Your Yard Is Your Masterpiece

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By Andrew Caxton

Landscaping your yard has often been compared to painting a beautiful picture. If you are an artist, then your teacher has probably told you that a good painting should have a focal point and the rest of the details should make the painting even more interesting and beautiful. In landscaping and gardening, this works in much the same way. You are creating a picture around a focal point to help make a cohesive, beautiful landscape that you can enjoy.

The lawn is a very important part of the landscaping design. Open, green lawn space is always beautiful and relaxing. It makes even a small space look larger and more open. If you plant trees here and there or plant flowers here and there, then the lawn quickly becomes less open and more cluttered and choppy. It is hard for the eye to concentrate on any one part of the landscape, which makes it seem more busy and cluttered. A small group of flowers or a tree or two is fine, but it is when you begin planting without taking into consideration how everything looks as a whole that you begin running into problems.

Consider the size of your lawn to make sure that you do not choose trees that may overpower your lawn. A tree should have good shape, with interesting fruit, flowers, bark, or leaves to draw your interest. A poplar tree is a good choice because it grows quickly, but it does have some drawbacks. It drops its leaves early in the season, which means that it sits there barren and ugly for quite a while. You need to take that into consideration before choosing poplar trees for your landscaping design. A catalpa is a lovely choice as well. It has broad leaves, beautiful flowers, and it has seed pods that stay on the tree for quite a while during the winter. Other trees that you may want to consider include an ash for its brightly colored berries, a tulip tree for its beautiful blossoms, a white birch tree for its interesting bark, and a copper beech tree for the beautiful leaves.

Where the tree is going to be located should be a major consideration in where you decide to place the tree. If you are locating the tree in an area that is moist and low, then you may want to consider a willow. Mixing different trees close together will not look quite right either. For example, a neat and tidy juniper tree would look very out of place when placed next to a chestnut tree that spreads. You must keep the features of the trees in mind to make sure that they are proportionally right together.

You will want to avoid planting evergreens near your home or in the front yard. Evergreens block the sun from getting to your home and yard and this can make your yard seem dark and gloomy if there are quite a few of them. You will find that you house looks more alive and it will be healthier if there is some sunlight allowed into it.

Just as trees are carefully considered due to certain things that you like, you should choose your shrubs in much the same way. In a group of shrubs, you will want to choose some that bloom early and some that bloom late, as well as some who color during the fall. You also want to take into consideration those that have beautiful bark or fruit. This will help you to have color in your landscaping all year around.

If you are looking for a shrub to use as a hedge, then you are most certainly in luck. A California privet is a great choice, as well as a buckthorn, Japan quince, Osage orange, or Van Houtte’s spirea.

You also need to choose your trees and shrubs based on your climate and locality as well. This will help them to thrive and flourish in your yard and climate.

You may find that landscape gardening can be formal or very casual. A formal garden would have straight lines, while a casual garden would have more curving and bends.

A formal landscaping design may look to stiff and boring, while a casual design may look too busy or fussy. If you are making a path, then keep this in mind. A path should always lead somewhere. If not, then it is not a path. Straight paths are easier to create on your own, so keep that in mind in your landscaping design.

Paths in your garden may be created by using grass, gravel, or dirt. Grass paths are used in some very beautiful garden areas, but they may not hold up well in smaller gardens, due to their high maintenance. A gravel path is a great look, but you may not have easy access to gravel to make your path. A dirt path is easier to create. All you need to do is dig out your path with a depth of two feet. Use six inches of stone to line the patch and then pack down dirt over the stone, rounding it slightly toward the center of your path. Make sure that there are no depressions in your path or you could find that you have a problem with standing water. The stone in the pathway makes a natural drainage system to help remove the water.

You may find that a building in your home may need some décor help in the form of vines or flowers to help make it a cohesive part of your home. A perennial vine is a great choice, including the clematis, trumpet vine, Virginia creeper, and wisteria. These vines will grow to make them a permanent part of your landscaping design.

Imagine a house that is a natural color with gray, weathered shingles. Now include a purple wisteria in front of the home. Do you see how much beauty that this vine can add? We had a very ugly corner in my childhood home where the dining room and kitchen met. A trellis was placed in this corner where a trumpet vine made a beautiful statement. It helped brighten up a dark, ugly corner with great beauty.

An annual vine is the morning glory, wild cucumber, and moon vine. These vines work great to help cover up an ugly spot. It is sometimes necessary to use a vine to help cover up something that does not look very appealing. These annual vines are perfect for this work.

If you have an old fence, then you may want to add a hop vine. This will give your fence more of a natural look, much as it is in the forest.

If you need a plant to border a walk or to go beside your home, then you may want to consider planting some flowers. You want to keep in mind, however, that you need to keep the front yard lawn space open. Daffodils in the spring can make your yard lovely. If you add hyacinths or tulips, you will be giving your landscaping a touch of beautiful color. They do not take much effort and they will bring spring to your yard. Planting some bulbs in your front lawn can net you a beautiful display of color. This is a rule that can be broken in the open lawn space. They blend in with the whole picture, rather than taking away from the picture. You can simply drop the bulbs as you walk through the yard and plant them where they land. You should plant them in groups of four to six to help make them more appealing to the eye.

Flower gardens are great for the side or rear of the home. You don’t want to have a beautiful front yard, only to have someone walk around the side and back to a dead, deserted yard. You can lay your yard out in straight, formal lines or you can choose to make it more casual. It is up to you and your personal preferences.

You need to consider all of the different colors together to make sure that they mesh and blend well. Even though this is not a huge consideration in nature, we have to keep it in mind in our yards because it is a smaller area. We need to be aware of the impact that color has upon our yard so that we can keep the yard neat and beautiful, rather than busy and cluttered. If you need to break up a large group of colors, you can use white flowers or something like mignonette, which is green in color.

This concludes our lesson in landscaping. Your grounds are the setting for your home and other buildings. Free, open lawn spaces, well-placed trees, groups of flowers that are well thought out, and shrubbery that is grouped together can make your home and landscape into the place that you are needing. By learning all of these lessons, your landscaping will help make your house into a home.

Andrew Caxton is the author of many articles on different web publications, with subjects like lawn care published online for A website with tips on landscaping.

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