Lawn and Garden

Landscaping tips for eye-catching curb appeal

Transforming your property into an eye-catching landscape doesn't have to be expensive, nor does it have to be stressful. Here are a few tips to get the ball rolling:

Consult books and visit nursery centers

Familiarize yourself with available trees, shrubs and perennials in your area. Observe color, texture, fragrance and bloom time. This will help you decide what you like and develop a garden style. Knowledge and insight will reward you with an attractive result.

Plant a tree

A tree will be an invaluable asset to your landscape since, as a rule of thumb, the older a tree gets, the more beautiful it becomes. Be sure to keep in mind height, width and distance from your house to prevent any future problems. No pun intended, the sky is virtually the limit for choosing a tree!

Mulch

Depending on your style, there is a broad selection of mulch to choose from that will give your garden a more completed look. Cocoa shell is a nice choice for gardens with delicate plants. Bark mulch, is a great option for large garden areas. Consider mulching under already-existing trees - this will make a place for a new palate of shade-loving plants, keep the lawn mower away from the tree's trunk and help retain water.

Carve out new garden spaces

Eliminate some of that water-consuming lawn by planting a mixed border or an island bed. A mixed border can be planted along a fence to add color, character and depth, while an island bed can be any shape and centrally situated to break up the monotony of a vast stretch of lawn.

For the former, plant tall selections toward the back descending to shorter ones in the front. For the latter, taller plants in the center with shorter ones radiating forward. Combinations of shrubs, sub-shrubs, perennials, annuals and herbs can be planted in either of these gardens.

Think about the possibility of a hummingbird garden or a butterfly garden. This will add an interactive and eye-catching feature to your landscape.

Vines

Plant vines to conceal chain-link fences or to compliment already attractive ones. Consider planting vines on a blank wall of an old barn or shed. In this case, you will most likely need a support structure, such as lattice.

Vines planted in small courtyard spaces can also be nice, since typically they will add visual depth to the small space.

Cobble stone or brick edging

Add either stone or brick to the perimeter of any garden to separate plants from grass. This will provide a nice visual contrast and outline, as well as being a deterrent for grass creeping into cultivated areas.

Planters

Hang colorful planter baskets filled with an assortment of cascading annuals on a porch, or place an ornate stone planter (or two) filled with herbs or topiary at the beginning of a pathway.

Trailing plants for the facade of a stone wall

Creeping Phlox, Candy Tuft and Alyssum are a few examples of plants that will add vibrancy to any naturally creviced stone wall.

A bird bath

A bird bath will compliment your mixed border or island bed, and will be appreciated by your feathered friends.

A fire pit

Backyard fire pits can be a great addition to open property. They provide a beautiful focal point and a little extra warmth and light on summer evenings, and family and friends will love to gather round and roast marshmellows, sing campfire songs or just watch the flames while chatting together. Just make sure you follow the fire safety guidelines in your area and maintain a clean, safe fire pit.

Garden lighting

Lighting will enhance the enjoyment of your landscape at night. Tiki torches are nice (if someone is present when they are lit). They will also deter mosquitoes. There are many types of garden lighting available on the market at varying costs - solar lights, for example, are often moderately priced and easy to install.

Privacy fences

Even the most beautiful yards shouldn't be subjected to constant scrutiny. If you like to use your yard or garden as additional living space, a privacy fence may be in order. Though not as visually appealing as split-rail, wrought-iron or other decorative fences, privacy fences need not be ugly. Good-quality wood in an attractive finish or stain can present a nice facade to the outside world while keeping your yard nicely hidden from prying eyes.

These are just a few tips for creating a visually appealing landscape. Whether you chose to do one thing or many to your property, keep in mind that each element builds on the next, and eventually you and your neighbors will be saying "Wow!" to the improvements that you've made.

By Kaiti O'Donnell