10 easy ideas to transform your yard and garden
An easy-to-grow tree that is sized-right for your yard and garden is one of the best investments you can make in your landscape. Long-lived and rich in color, texture, and fragrance, trees give back to the landscape for decades. Scientific research has proven that they increase home value and they also contribute to home energy conservation by blocking summer sun and winter wind.
The best trees for your yard and garden are likely native species. Native species thrive in the dominant growing conditions of your area and are likely to stand up to harsh climate. Visit with professionals at your local garden center about improved hybrids of native species. Search both large shade trees, if your property has space, and small flowering understory trees for a diverse landscape.
Dedicate a few minutes or an hour or two -- depending on the size of your yard and garden -- to maintenance each week and you will not be strapped with a weekend-long list of garden chores. Prune spent flowers for a few minutes before you take off for work in the morning. Water container plants after supper and take in the beauty at twilight. Yards and gardens are work, but that work is joyful when accomplished in small doses.
Every garden has space for a bench. A place to sit will encourage you to stop for a moment and take in the wonders of nature around you. Too often the yard and garden are viewed as places to maintain. It's easy to forget they are full of beauty. A bench is a reminder to sit down and take it all in. A bench does not need to be fancy. An old log works well as does a cast-off plank supported by a couple of tree stumps.
A great yard includes more than flowering plants and shade-giving trees. Birds, butterflies, and a diverse ecosystem of wildlife also call the yard home. Enjoy the antics of winged visitors by planting nectar-rich plants, providing undisturbed space for nesting, and supplying fresh water. A birdbath is wonderful but a shallow saucer will work well, too. Refresh the water every day or two and soon birds will take up residence.
Expand your living space by transforming your porch, patio, or deck into an outdoor room. Add chairs and benches. Pillows and rugs made of all-weather material add instant and easy-care comfort. Plant trees to provide shade overhead or invest in a pergola or umbrella to shelter you and your friends from the sun.
While the growing season might consist of just six months or so each year, your yard and garden are part of your home all 12 months. Add plants that have outstanding good looks in the off-season as well as in the peak of summer. Evergreens are always a good choice. From neat and tidy boxwood to tough-as-nails junipers, evergreens carry the garden through winter.