Landscaping Ideas from the Morris Arboretum

Learn everything you need to know about designing your garden from the experts at the Morris Arboretum.

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    The Morris Arboretum is a historic garden in Philadelphia that boasts more than 13,000 labeled plants that thrive in the area's climate. There's a delightful array of flowering trees and shrubs, including dogwoods, cherries, witch hazels, crabapples, rhododendrons, and more.

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    Add Depth

    Morris Arboretum provides many landscaping lessons. One great garden-design trick to make your yard feel larger is to plant bold, bright colors up front and soft, light colors farther back. Because intense colors catch our attention and soft colors seem to recede, your yard will seem larger.

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    Make the Most of Your Space

    Soften retaining walls by planting creeping or rock garden perennials between the stones. This section of the garden shows how you can add color in a space that would otherwise be barren.

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    Create Great Containers

    Amazing container gardens are simple and easy, and the Morris Arboretum features wonderful examples. In this photo, magenta petunias look smashing spilling out of terra-cotta pots holding upright purple-leaf New Zealand flax.

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    Plant Roses with Partners

    It's common to limit a rose garden to roses. But add color and interest by interplanting annuals, biennials, and perennials such as lavender, geraniums, and foxgloves. These plants cover any bare, unattractive stems at the rose plant base.

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    Grow in Groups

    Most plants strut their stuff best in groups; that's especially true for spring bulbs. A dozen daffodils looks fine, but three clusters of a dozen daffs each has even more appeal.

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    Include Focal Points

    Professional garden designers know how much impact a focal point creates. Whether it's a particularly stunning plant or piece of garden art, include a few spots in your yard that stand dramatically on their own.

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    Add Flowering Shrubs

    You'll see a wide variety of flowering shrubs at the Morris Arboretum. Flowering shrubs are a great way to add masses of color to your landscape. Azaleas, such as the ones shown in this photo, are particularly popular, but don't miss the arboretum's collection of fall-, winter-, and spring-blooming witch hazels.

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    Encourage Wildlife

    Gardens aren't meant to be sterile. Add life by attracting birds, butterflies, and other critters. Water features are a sure way to welcome birds; nectar plants are almost certain to attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

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    Enjoy Water

    Wildlife love water, and you surely will, too, if you include it in your garden. It is simple to create a small water feature. If you use a container and fountain pump, you may not even need to dig a hole.

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    Embrace Whimsy

    Don't have a spot for a giant twig shelter like the one shown here? No worries -- there are many other ways to fill your garden with personality. Find pieces of art that fit your personality, or make your own and showcase them.

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    Incorporate Structures

    The arched bridge at the Morris Arboretum looks great all year and is a great example of what structures add to your landscape. Consider putting in a small stone wall to separate areas of your garden; get a pergola or arbor; or dress up a garden shed for year-round appeal.

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    Make an Entrance

    Ensure your garden makes a good first impression with an attractive garden gate. The example at the Pennock Flower Walk looks good all year long with its intricate curves and shapes.

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    Grow Understory Plants

    There's a wide variety of understory plants -- woodland plants that naturally grow under the canopy of large trees and thrive in dappled shade. Enjoy bulbs, annuals, perennials, and even shrubs and small trees such as this red-orange Japanese maple.


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