Faces, rooms, gardens... whatever! I am totally fascinated by "before and after."
Most of the gardens that I work with are small and challenged by poor soil, flat rectangular layouts, and too much concrete. Hey, its southern California, after all, and land ain't cheap! So my greatest challenge is to transform that boring rectangle into a beautiful, useable, interesting garden.
I have the great fortune to be making a living from working with gardens. It gives me joy to hear my clients say "I'm excited!" after we meet to talk about re-designing their outdoor space. Most clients want a fast transformation. I've got six tricks that really seem to work really well in going overnight from "boooring" to "wow, i love it!" and don't have to cost a lot of money.
- FEWER and BIGGER: Pick out three basic shrubs or perennials as the bones for your garden, get the biggest specimens you can afford, and repeat them throughout the garden.
- DEEPEN and RAISE THE PLANTING BEDS: Expand the depth of the planting beds to accomodate a minimum of two tiers of plants. Unless you want a formal garden, shape the beds into long swooping curves (no wiggles, please!) And if the garden is flat, raising the beds will make it a lot more interesting (plus you can bring in great soil.)
- ADD A FOCAL POINT: This could be anything from a birdbath, to a garden sculpture, to a seating area. Plan the rest of the garden around it.
- USE CONTRASTING FOLIAGE: Use the foundation shrubs to create color and shape contrast. Combine a burgundy flax with a rounded lime green 'Wheelers Dwarf' pittosporum, for example, or a lacy chartreuse Mother Fern with the massive dark leaves of an Acanthus.
- ADD A SPECIMEN TREE: Even small trees, such as a Crape Myrtle or Japanese Maple, will make a garden seem grander. And if you have even twelve square feet to spare, you can create a cluster of fruit trees, pruning them every winter to keep them from overgrowing the space.
- MULCH! Adding a layer of fresh mulch, whether it is shredded bark or stone or compost, will immediately make the garden look better. Plus, its crucial for reducing weeds and retaining water. Use the same mulch throughout the garden to tie it all together visually.