Landscaping Ideas from the Missouri Botanic Garden

Missouri Botanic Garden
The Missouri Botanic Garden is an ideal spot for learning about garden design.

St. Louis is home of the United States' oldest continuous-running botanical garden, a 79-acre paradise of plants including more than 1,000 types of bulbs, 265 varieties of roses, and 8,000 orchid plants. That makes the Missouri Botanical Garden a perfect place to visit in any season.

Celebrate Formal Style

Well-done formal landscapes rarely fail to impress. Low hedges planted in a symmetrical pattern are a particularly striking way to add elegance in your landscape. Boost color by flanking the hedges with masses of annuals, bulbs, or herbs.

Leave Something to the Imagination

Your garden will seem more intriguing and interesting if you can't see the entire thing at once. So use walls, shrubs, trees, or garden structures to entice visitors to explore more.

Plant En Masse

One of the surest ways to put on a big show in the landscape is to plant as many of a kind of plant together as you have room for. This design trick works just as well with planting several varieties as it does if you choose a single species.

Consider the Backdrop

Backgrounds can make or break a photograph -- and it's the same in the garden. Look for backdrops that accent your plantings. For example, a simple white fence covered with climbing roses is a lovely way to highlight a bed of spring-blooming bulbs.

Put a Bend in It

Long straight lines tend to be visually dull. So create some excitement by adding curves. A round water feature edged in colorful tulips, for example, is a wonderful contrast to linear sidewalks and hedges.

Go Back to Nature

The Japanese Garden at the Missouri Botanic Garden is a great place to get inspiration for creating a soothing Asian or naturalistic garden that looks good all year long.

Plan for All Seasons

It's easy to create a garden that looks great in spring and summer, but it takes a more planning to pull off a great fall and winter presentation. Look for perennials, shrubs, and trees that offer good fall color or flowers. Select evergreens or plants with interesting branching structure or bark for winter interest.

Add the Sound of Water

You'll see a number of wonderful water features in the garden, including this waterfall flanked by flowering azaleas and Japanese maples. Find ways to add water to your landscape to get the same wonderful sound, eye appeal, and cooling effect.

Make Pathways Special

A pathway's main function is to lead from one place to another. But you can also make it a garden-design element by giving it a special shape or building it from an interesting material or combination of materials.

Plant for Fragrance

Choose fragrant plants to give your garden extra sensory appeal. When planting, think about where you'll enjoy different fragrances the most. For example, soothing lavender and jasmine would be perfect for around a relaxing patio, but zesty citrus might be better outside your kitchen window.

Grow Indoors

A burst of warm, humid air is just what the doctor ordered to get you through a long winter. So give your home a touch of the tropics by including a few indoor plants. They clean pollutants from the air, increase humidity, and improve moods.

Enjoy Flowering Vines

Flowering vines add color to a garden without taking up extra space. Grow them on structures such as arbors or pergolas, or train them up a trellis along the wall of your home, garage, or garden shed.

Go Bold with Foliage

One of the hottest trends is selecting plants with beautiful foliage to imbue the garden with color and interest. You'll see many great examples at the Missouri Botanical Garden, including annuals (such as coleus), perennials (such as lungwort), shrubs (such as ninebark), and even trees (such as purple-leaf maple).

Break Up Your Lawn

If you don't need large expanses of grass, add island plantings for interest. The round beds that flank the brick path in this photo create visual appeal.

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