As fall weather arrives, it’s time for a reevaluation of your landscape to take note of what is thriving after a hot summer and what needs refreshing or replacement. Are there gaps in the design that need filling in? Is there enough to keep it interesting in winter?
When starting a new landscape, or reviving an established one, a good place to begin in either situation is with the basics, sometimes called the “bones” of the garden. Trees need initial consideration as they will eventually become the largest elements, but shrubs provide a solid backbone to your design. Novice gardeners sometimes bypass the skeleton construction phase. Instead, they get carried away planting irresistible flowering plants that, while they shine in their season of bloom, they leave the landscape barren when winter dormancy hits. This situation calls for adding in structure in reverse order.
Evergreen shrubs and small trees anchor the landscape year round. These “workhorse” plants might seem a bit boring to some, but when chosen wisely, they act as the perfect, low maintenance backdrop so seasonal color and flowering perennials stand out. It’s the landscapes with nothing but evergreens that give these garden stalwarts a uninteresting reputation. ‘Spartan’ Juniper is an excellent choice when a vertical element is needed. It’s dense needle-like foliage contrasts with other leaf shapes. When you need some variation from basic green, the new growth of Nandina ‘Lemon Lime’ is bright chartreuse and adds an unexpected hue to the color palette. Have a gap to fill in a shady area? ‘Cleopatra’ Camellia not only has glossy evergreen foliage, but features rosy pink flowers in the fall.
If winters in your area have severe temperatures, you will need to wait until spring to plant, but it’s still a great time to assess areas that might need improvement. If you live in a warmer climate, planting in fall is a great choice because roots better establish themselves through a mild winter, instead of a scorching summer.
Every garden is a work in progress, whether it’s been around for years or has just begun. Taking time to appraise the overall garden plan can highlight significant improvements that elevate your garden style and bring more beauty to your life.