September is a great time to redesign your landscape. Your past gardening mistakes might be blocking windows, drooping from the summer drought or overtaking other plants in a hostile take over.
This month I’ll be hosting a workshop about garden design to benefit Metro Parks. The workshop will be Sept. 17 at Point Defiance Park inside the Pagoda. (See box for details.)
Here are five ways to rethink, redesign and revitalize the garden:
1. Look for ugly plants in your yard. The evergreen with yellow branches, the droopy rhododendron or the azalea that has been hacked to death to keep it small. Now is the time to dig in and dig out the plants that don’t appreciate growing in your garden. You will be surprised at how happy your other plants will look when one sickly plant gets the shovel solution.
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2. Next, consider moving lazy plants that refuse to bloom. Lilacs and hydrangeas are the two shrubs that generate the most mail about failure to flower. Lilacs usually need more sun and better air circulation, hydrangeas are picky about the timing of pruning and late spring frosts. Move them or lose them. The best hydrangeas for smaller gardens or for those that can never remember the best time for pruning are the variety called “Endless Summer” hydrangea. This hydrangea flowers on both old and new wood so you’ll get blooms no matter when you prune or no matter how cold the winter.
3. Consider your curb appeal. Is there a wide pathway, some color and a repetition of style or plant material that leads the eye to the front door? Do you have container gardens near the door to welcome visitors? You can increase your home’s value by adding curb appeal without buying a single new plant. Pruning, edging the lawn, repainting the house trim, adding new house numbers and even a new door mat can amp up the front yard appeal.
4. Create some focal points in your landscape. A focal point is someplace for the eye to rest or something lovely that catches and holds the viewer’s attention. A beautiful tree or shrub or a large container filled with blooming plants are lovely focal points, but you can get the same effect by using focal points that you cannot kill. A bench, bird bath or sundial are all examples of traditional garden focal points. Other types of garden art can grab the eye and anchor the landscape.
5. Settle on a style for your landscape. Usually the style of your house will suggest a landscape style, so that a traditional home will showcase a green lawn and clipped boxwood, a craftsman home looks settled among blooming shrubs, and a cottage-style home with shutters and a picket fence seems made for an overflowing flower garden with roses and blooming clematis vines climbing up arbors and over arches. Contemporary homes with angles are good backdrops for the clean lines of spiky yucca and succulents and waves of ornamental grasses. Learn more about choosing a landscape style and mixing different styles at the “Landscape Redesign” workshop.
Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and is the author of several books. Reach her at binettigarden.com.
If you go
Step-by-Step Landscape Redesign with Marianne Binetti
What: You will take home a plan for your garden. Bring a photo or diagram of your landscape to help Marianne make specific recommendations for your garden. Enter to win door prizes. Seating is limited.
When: 10 a.m.-noon Sept. 17.
Where: Point Defiance Pagoda, 5400 N. Pearl St., Tacoma.
Admission: $20, includes light refreshments.
Supporting: The Point Defiance Flower & Garden Show.
Information: metroparkstacoma.org/fallgardenfest or 253-305-1000.