Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Gardening How To: Gardening Around Hardscapes

When we first moved into our home, it looked like a jungle with some serious hardscapes in need of gardening. The one good thing about the various garden areas, were the struggling and scattered perennials that were still fighting through the weeds. I was able to garden around the hardscapes in our yard, including a guardrail, a driveway and driveway landscaping. 

One reclaimed corner of the yard
If you have some hardscapes in your yard that could use a touch of gardening, it is not that hard. Here's what I did:

Work Back to Front
Whenever I start working a new or overgrown garden bed I work it back to front. First, its a lot easier to work your way out of a garden bed, but it also allows you to plan out the garden bed so that each plant is featured in the best way.

Use a Mix of Plant Types
One of the biggest design mistakes I see all over town, is homeowners sticking to a single type of plant, be it flowers, bushes or trees. Everything looks better, fits better and survives better when there is a healthy mix of plant types. Pick out plants that will add color, shape and texture to the hardscape you are trying to soften up. In the photo above I used a medium sized bush, low laying hostas, spiky lilies and succulent sedum plants. 

Mimic the Rest of Your Yard
Even if the area you are gardening in is away from the remainder of your yard and isolated from other garden beds, you should mimic the rest of your landscaping. When there is a continuity of color, texture or height at different points in your yard, the eye is attracted to the different areas and really pulls everything together. In this example I divided four hosta plants to create a row extending along the entire length of our driveway and eventually around a tree out of the picture. 

I added hosta and lily plants to other parts of the yard as well.
Plan for a 4 Season Garden
The pine trees were already growing in the yard when we bought our home, so there was year round interest built in. Still I like to add some interesting plants to our gardens that will make it through as many seasons as possible. Ornamental grasses, coneflower plants and sedum all leave behind beautiful and interesting stalks when the flowers are done blooming. 

Have you gardened around any hardscaping in your yard? In that first picture there is the end of a guardrail and a concrete block behind all those flowers (get clearance from your village before gardening in front of or around road structures).  Anyone have a favorite plant that they use to disguise brick walls?

  Linking up with Linda's Lunacy