Walking through the garden center at any major home improvement store can provide the backyard gardener with a virtual overload of ideas for both permanent landscaping and garden design, but integrating plants with non-living materials can be challenging. Landscape gardening unites hardscape features with plantings to create permanent, low maintenance gardens.
Features of landscape gardening are often both attractive and functional. Retaining walls make planting even the steepest hills possible. Trellises and pergolas provide shade or conceal unattractive fixtures in the yard, such as an air conditioner unit or the place where the garbage cans are kept. Raised beds make planting and weeding easier, and container gardens shield sensitive plants from weather and pests.
Taking Gardens off the Ground
One of the common elements in landscape gardening is the expanding definition of how a garden is designed. Along with on the ground plantings, a number of vertical options create interest and draw the eye away from the ground to admire flowers at a variety of heights.
Raised gardens are a familiar example of landscape gardening. Framed by decorative stone, wood, or brick borders, raised gardens are traditional flat garden beds that sit 6” or more above ground level. This technique allows for the incorporation of decorative elements like paver blocks, and provides an easier to maintain garden design. It also provides an ideal solution for areas where the soil is poor, since raised bed are filled with top soil that can be amended as needed to support healthy plant growth.
An increasingly popular structure used in landscape gardening is the trellis or pergola. These vertical structures allow vine plants to be trained along their support, creating a canopy of flowers or leaves that can provide shade as well as beauty. Flowers are not the only plants that can adorn these structures, however. Edible plants can add a whimsical and delicious touch to a pergola.
Container plantings can also be a key element of landscape gardening. Planter boxes and urns, from the simple to the elaborately designed, can be distributed along walkways, on porches, decks and patios, and beside stairs or doorways to provide a decorative element in corners that could not otherwise support plants. Hanging containers and deck rail baskets can also add a touch of beauty in an unexpected location.
Utilizing the many techniques that blend landscaping with traditional gardening can simplify and beautify your backyard. Landscape gardening can provide a wealth of ideas on how to combine elements of both to achieve your perfect outdoor oasis.