The key to beauty at any time of the year is a wide variety of leaf and flower colors. Here, lush flowers like Pia hydrangea, burgundy leaves from Summer Wine Ninebark, and low-maintenance ornamental grasses intersperse with a range of evergreens. Grace Smokebush provides a pop of bright pink.
A firepit on a bluestone patio is perfect for intimate evenings. Containers help integrate the living space with the surrounding garden.
Dress up hardscapes with containers to soften lines and brighten the scenery. Keep anchor plants in pots all season, and bolster with seasonal appeal.
Japanese maples turn an eye-popping, fiery hue in fall. Great as container trees, they can be moved where you want.
Select planter combinations that provide a contrast to the surrounding area. Here, a dark grey house and shaded yard make oranges, reds, and greens stand out.
This urban backyard measures just 45 feet wide, but by careful placement of outdoor living spaces and strategic use of plants, the homeowners created a private paradise. This stone path invites visitors to the structure in the back.
Looking to perk up your fall garden? See our editor's top annuals for instant late-season color.
Providing privacy from tall surrounding buildings, this gazebo gives the owners a spot to relax and entertain. Gazebos also let you to enjoy the outdoors even during stormy weather. And they're not just for large gardens; the example shown here is tucked in a tight space between a garage and a privacy fence.
Draw guests into the garden by locating seating areas away from the house. Use small trees or large shrubs to block the view of your home, and your outdoor room can feel like it's a million miles away.
Sink your patio to make it feel intimate and easier to screen. The homeowners dug the patio shown here 2 feet below the surrounding grade to encourage the feeling of privacy.
Mask the sounds of the surrounding city with a trickling stream or babbling brook. Water features such as this pond look and sound great, plus attract birds and other wildlife to the garden.
Keep unpleasant views out of sight with fences, trellises, and tall plantings. Add interest by breaking up solid expanses of screen. For example, use a few different plants for your hedges or add garden art (such as the wrought-iron metalwork on this gate).
Test Garden Tip: Think about other qualities as well. Dense evergreens are particularly good at blocking unwanted sounds, for example.
Tuck away garden art, a birdbath, a birdhouse, or other found object to create visual appeal throughout the landscape. Place them so they can be viewed only from certain vantage points to entice visitors to stroll through the garden.
Choose large trees or quick-growing shrubs to create drama fast. The tricolor beech shown here, for example, looks much older than five years because it was large when planted. And the hydrangea in the foreground is a quick grower.
Use colorful annual flowers, such as purple globe amaranth, white bacopa, and frilly scented geranium, to fill spaces between trees and shrubs and while large plants get established. Small-scale annuals bring intimacy to the garden.
Incorporate large stones and boulders into the landscape to create an instant sense of permanence and age. Bury a portion of some stones to achieve a more natural look as you position the boulders in a grouping.
Cannas, ornamental grasses, and large annuals such as cleome make an impact late in the season when many other flowers have faded. These plants may grow 5 feet tall or more in one year, providing a quick fix for filling barren spaces and increasing the sense of privacy.