From picking the right flowers to decorating your garden shed, here’s everything you need to know to create a beautiful backyard.
Make a Small Yard Look Larger
To make a shallow yard seem larger, use horizontal layers of different heights to create the illusion of depth, such as low shrubs before a slightly higher fence, flower beds and an arbor beyond, and taller shrubs near the house.
Fill a Basket or Caddy With All Your Tools
This way, you won’t have to keep going back and forth and search for the trowel or rake you just know is in the garage somewhere.
Give Plants a Good Soaking
It’s better to give your lawn and plants and good soaking less frequently than several sprinklings more often. The reason is that the roots, the only part of the plant that can really absorb the water, lie underneath the soil. Small waterings are quickly absorbed by the topsoil, or even the matting of the pant material the covers it, and the roots remain dry and thirsty. For them to drink, the water really has to penetrate—about four to six inches down for most lawns and plants, and more for larger plants and shrubs.
Keep Garden Tools Sharp
Garden tool can get dull easily—especially the ones that prune bark-covered branches and hack through tough, fibrous roots—so sharpen the blades from time to time. An ordinary mill file, available at any hardware or home improvement store, is all you need.
Perk Up Your Garden Shed
Glam up your backyard workspace by adding plenty of surfaces for cutting flowers and a sink for washing muddy hands. You can also utilize the walls to hang brooms, rakes, or other gardening tools.
To attract butterflies to your garden, concentrate on plants with long blooming cycles, such as hollyhocks, coneflowers, nasturtiums, sunflowers, and even blossoming weeds. Blooming herbs are a special treat, as irresistible to butterflies as apple pit is to humans.
Fill Your Garden With a Wide Variety of Plants
The greater variety of plants your yard harbors, the greater your chances are of maintaining year-round appeal. Evergreens may go unnoticed in spring and summer, but in winter the shelter and berries they provide will keep visitors interested. In addition to plants that flourish in different seasons, choose plants that create different levels and different mini-habitats. If possible, offer some woods-like patches, some sunny open areas, and some meadow-like border areas between.
Don’t Be Afraid to Mix Greenery
By combining flowers and plants of different shapes, you can add interest to a backyard border—even when little is blooming.
These otherworldly flowers open as early as December and often stick around well into April. Get the plants in the ground in the spring and you just might find yourself looking forward to next winter.
Don’t Throw Away Broken Terra-cotta Pots!
Just a few things on the long list of ways to repurpose a chipped terra-cotta pot? Turning the rims into garden markers, using the shards to top off soil and keep critters at bay, or even designing a fairy garden.
Grow a Romantic Rose Garden
Creating a lush rose garden is an easy way to up your home’s curb appeal. Choose a material like wood or wire as a base for your trellis, and let your roses start to bloom.
Check If Seeds Are Still Viable
If you have trouble figuring out whether old seeds are still good to plant, the “paper towel test” is an easy way to get your answer. Follow these four easy steps, and you’ll never have to worry about tossing still-good-to-plant seeds ever again.
Allow for Creativity
Keep ground plans, notes, and inspiration pictures together in a garden workbook. Note your plantings for each season, how well they produced, and and problems you had along the way. Over just a few years, you’ll build a remarkably rich resource—and you’ll have your own personal gardening wish book to get you through those long winter nights.
Make Your Plants Work for You
If you’re strategic with plant placement, you can create beautiful designs in your backyard. In this garden, for example, twenty varieties of hosta create a lush patchwork.
Keep a Garden Calendar
If you plant from seed, it’s especially useful to note your planting day and the day seedlings first appeared. It’s also helpful to note which days it rained and the amount of rainfall, so you don’t need water unless you really need to. Saving your calendars from year to year can give you a good record of conditions in your area, so note once-a-season events such as the first killing frost, winter precipitation, and spring warming.
Utilize Red Mulch
If the shade at the base of a tree is too heavy to grow there, try filling the bare ring with red mulch. It looks tidy and adds a bit of natural color.
Be Careful with Soil Selection
Lawn not living up to its potential as an emerald beauty? Have your soil tested to make sure it’s sufficient in iron and magnesium, the nutrients chiefly responsible for grass’s rich green color.
Don’t Use the Wrong Cutting
If your lawn still isn’t looking great after you’ve checked the soil, chances are you’re cutting your lawn too short and too often. Grass should not be cut shorter than two inches, which means you’ve got some time to kick back and have an iced tea on the deck.
Pick Perennials That Will Bloom Multiple Times Throughout Summer
Climbing rose and woodland sage are just some of several perennials that will bloom multiple times throughout the summer months.
Lawns Need About an Inch of Water a Week
Although the amount of water can vary depending on factors such as cloud cover, air temperature, and humidity. A rain gauge helps you keep track of annual rainfall, but how do you know how much water your sprinklers put out? The answer is to do a test using a rain-gauge model. Mark an empty tin can one inch from the bottom and set it in a level, stable place in the sprinkler’s range. Make note of the time and turn on the sprinkler. Keep watch on the can, and when the water reaches the one-inch marker, note the time again. The difference is how long you need to water each section of lawn a week.
When starting seedlings in flats, add a little fertilizer to their water when the plants begin to appear. This will strengthen them and fortify them from transplanting.
Save Your Small Plastic Yogurt Containers
Cut the bottoms of your leftover yogurt containers—they’re perfect for protecting seedlings from spring weather.
Don’t Transplant on a Sunny Day
Wait for early dusk or a cloudy day, so the plants won’t dry out. Since moisture is a key to successful transplanting, do it when the soil is still damp from rain. Even when that’s the case, new transplants need to be watered immediately, to keep the roots from drying and withering. To be safe, water each plant as you go along.
Be Careful Not to Purchase Unhealthy or Diseased Plants
At the nursery, look at the leaves of a plant to figure out how healthy it is. Avoid picking plants with brown, yellow, or wilted leaves, which could signify poor health or neglect.