Simple design steps can take your garden to the next level

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The flower beds are ready, the vegetables are growing and yet something could be missing in the backyard landscape: this "wow" factor.
Adding a personal touch to the lawn and garden doesn't have to be complicated or exceed the family budget. Homeowners can transform a common-looking landscape with some imagination, design, and perhaps the help of a local agricultural expansion service, landscape specialist, or private nursery.
"A garden is never really finished," said Jonathan M. Lehrer, chairman of the Department of Urban Horticulture and Design at Farmingdale State College, Long Island, New York. "Sometimes it is the most difficult to take the plunge and decide whether to develop an area or start a project."
Some ideas that gardeners can take their farms to another level:
An arbor, pergola, grate - even posts with a net - will attract attention, especially at the entrance to a courtyard. It also adds height where homeowners usually only think about length and width, said teacher.
Adding clematis, climbing roses or honeysuckle leads to long flowering periods.
Arbours decorated with lights can also define garden rooms and provide a view of the space beyond, which invites exploration, said Katharine Pinney, a landscape architect and designer in Los Angeles.
"Use them to guide your visitor through the garden," said Pinney.
A path with mulch, gravel, bricks, paving stones or stone slabs with edges invites you to stroll.
Pinney said the easier the route's route, the better. However, teacher suggests avoiding a straight, linear path.
"Trying to use more curves, twists, and turns adds the illusion of a longer length than it could be, this secret of what might be around the next corner," he said.
Pinney said the choice of paving slabs should reflect the architectural style of the house. However, mixing materials such as bricks and stone slabs increases visual interest.
"In short, use your imagination!" Said Pinney.
Placing decorative pots of flowers along the way creates a focus and adds color.
Benches and tables are a must for homeowners who want to make their yards a meeting point. A limited space should not have a deterrent effect.
Pinney said she designed numerous small gardens because the old bungalow quarters in their area have narrow but deep lots.
"By dividing this narrow space into spaces, the garden looks bigger," she said.
Pinney and teachers suggest building a fire pit, a cooking area, or a place to eat or simply enjoy morning coffee.
Pinney suggests taking items that reflect the homeowner's personality. One of her customers loved wine and held tastings with friends. Pinney said that she planted grapes for the customer and used old wine bottles from restaurants to limit a route.
Old bricks from another customer's bungalow from the 1920s were incorporated into the border of a ground cover rug.
"A homeowner should think about what would make the garden a reflection of his personality and interests," said Pinney.
Due to the corona virus pandemic, Teacher added, "I've seen people who won't go to the beach." So they create pool areas, add inexpensive Christmas lights and lanterns, and bring music outside. "
The landscaping of woods allows graded walls and stairs to be created to bridge the heights in the back yard and create more planting beds in between. They are also ideal for creating individual planters. Woods are available in both natural and synthetic designs.
According to Pinney, treated wood that is secured with wood screws is best for patios, but not for vegetable gardens.
Agree to the tree
Depending on the climate and sun exposure, you should plant small trees along the edges.
Japanese tree lilac and crepe myrtle provide vibrant summer colors. The trees with spring blossoms include red buds, white and pink dogwood, blooming crab apple, ornamental pears and star magnolia. To get the earliest spring blossoms, plant forsythia.
For the northern climate, Lehrer strongly recommends the dogwood dogwood. It has yellow flowers in spring and red cherry-like fruits in late summer and early autumn. The leaves turn red and orange in autumn, and when the tree ages, the outer bark peels off and shows an orange-brown color.
"It's a four-season facility that is extremely tough," he said.
A big garden bonus is a visit to a butterfly or hummingbird. Plants that produce nectar and pollen can attract them.
The 4-H kindergarten at Michigan State University includes a butterfly house that is open in the spring. Education coordinator Jessica Wright said attracting butterflies means having compatible plants for the caterpillars that they begin with. These can be fennel, dill and milkweed. Other flowering plants can act as butterfly magnets.
The plants that attract hummingbirds include bleeding hearts, cardinal flowers, impatiens, and petunias. Both butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to bee balm, butterfly bushes and zinnias. Birds and butterflies need water. Therefore, add bird feeders or a bird bath.
"Interacting with nature is the next level," said Wright. "It's great to see how they enjoy your garden too."

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