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If you want a well-kept and eye-catching yard, but you are short on time and your landscaping skills are minuscule, this article was written for you
You don’t need a four-year degree in landscape architecture to create an appealing outdoor space. You don’t even really need an overall vision—just the desire to learn and the willingness to get your hands in the dirt.
To help get you started, we’re sharing some of our favorite simple and easy landscaping ideas.
Planting flowers, greenery and fruits and vegetables in containers is perhaps one of the easiest ways to spruce up a landscape, says Nicole Forbes, education and events coordinator for Dennis’ Seven Dees Garden Center in Portland, Oregon.
The containers themselves are an easy way to spruce up the look of your yard, as they come in a variety of materials, colors and sizes. “[Containers] are like art or a sculpture in the garden,” N. Forbes says. Not only can they look beautiful, but they’re functional as well. Think strategically while placing them, and use them to help hide problem spots, frame doors and line pathways.
Vines provide privacy, and many of them grow very quickly (hops vines, for example, can grow more than a foot a day during peak season, says N. Forbes), so there isn’t as much waiting around as there might be for some other types of foliage. They also fit into small spaces and can provide vertical coverage without taking up a lot of space.
While many varieties of vines are evergreen, some—like clematis—bloom annually, so if you are looking for some seasonal differentiation, you’ve got it. In short, vines are both low-commitment and fun, says N. Forbes.
When researching garden layering, you may initially be intimidated and find yourself down a rabbit hole of puzzling terminologies such as repetition, flow, depth and scale, but it doesn’t have to be that complicated.
The simplest way to layer in landscaping is by including low-maintenance ground covers, suggests N. Forbes. The ground cover, she continues, “works like a living mulch, and it helps compete with weeds so you don’t have to do as much weeding.” So consider planting some creeping thyme, juniper or heuchera.
When you are starting from scratch with a landscaping project (whether it is a revamp of an existing yard or a whole new space altogether), the blank spaces between young trees and shrubs—that space is needed between each plant so they can take root and mature properly—might leave your yard looking a little emptier than you expected. N. Forbes suggests filling that space with annuals—at least for the first year or two—to help your yard look lush and finished while you wait for trees and shrubs to grow.
If you see a flower that you like at a garden center, buy several (rather than just one). Planting like flowers in groupings creates a lot of visual impacts, N. Forbes explains. Individuals, on the other hand, have the opposite effect—planting one kind of each plant leaves things looking way too sparse.
The amount that you should plant all depends on the allotted space, so grab a tape measure and report your findings to the expert at your favorite nursery, who can likely advise you on how many to take home.
No, we’re not suggesting you literally bring a working horse into your backyard to help you with your simple and easy landscaping projects (especially since your city’s zoning officials might have something to say about that). Rather, we’re referring to using plants that really get the job done—in other words, minimal effort, maximum effect.
These high-impact plants include roses and hydrangeas, which are very hearty, says N. Forbes. “They live for years, and they give you lots of flowers for a very long [blooming season]” she says. She suggests planting them in a space that you look at frequently, like right outside a high-visibility window, so you can fully enjoy them.
Clipping and trimming dead or unwanted sections of shrubs, flowers and plants is a very simple and easy way to quickly spruce up your landscape (it is also great for the health of your plants).
“With a well-pruned landscape, you can get away with a lot of crummy choices,” N. Forbes says, explaining that pruning is an easy thing to learn by simply reading a book or taking an online class.
If you’re only visiting your local garden center once or twice a year, consider switching that up. If you only stop in to get flowers on the first Sunday of May, for example, your landscape will reach its peak soon after—leaving you without much to look at the rest of the time.
N. Forbes suggests making multiple trips each season instead, looking for things that are in bloom at that very moment. In time, you’ll have a full, rich-looking landscape with a variety of plants that flower all year long.
Plants are not necessarily cheap, though, so be sure to consider how much you want to spend in advance. “Set a budget, and don’t go crazy,” N. Forbes says. “You don’t need to spend $100 each time.”