This is where I’ve been spending all my spare time, weather permitting, over the last ten days. We added the fence to create privacy for our backyard patio area last year, but it was too late in the year to start landscaping. Which is probably a good thing. When you have a larger area to plant, it’s good to have some time to think about what you want, to dream a little, and then get fresh, robust plants in the spring or early summer. Some plants do okay from the bargain bin, but I’ve learned most plants do far better the earlier you buy them in the season.
Number one on my wish list was breaking up the long, boring expanse of boards. Making use of the vertical space in a garden is always a good idea, but in this case it was the main idea. I chose clematis to grow on the trellises that I spray painted, and while they’ll be small this year, next year they should be full of blooms. The one below is Abilene.
As you can see, I have a ways to go yet before everything is planted and mulched! And at this early stage, scale is often off. For example, the Japanese Maple( directly in front of that purple blob) that is the intended focal point of this bed is now smaller than the row of day lilies. So you have to be able to use a bit of imagination and patience when planning new beds. (The tall wire trellis you see in the far background is the support for my husband’s hops. Hops will get super tall and it’s easier to harvest them if they’re not all tangled, hence the enormous trellis.)
I don’t have great light in this side yard. Plants that can take afternoon sun and morning shade−a harsh combination−are few. Day lilies are one of them. So I moved and divided day lilies from the front beds and I think they’ll do pretty well here. Here’s another view of the beds, looking back toward the gate.In the bed against the garage, I’d already planted hostas and Lady’s Mantle, mostly because I had extras from other beds. So this bed is fairly well established. In front of the daylilies I am planning a row of boxwoods to add structure and stability to the bed.
But the focal point will be, at least eventually, that Japanese Maple. Only a few Japanese Maples are hardy in zone 4b, unfortunately. This one, Burgundy Lace, is zone 5. I’ll have to mulch heavily and consider other winter protection, but it’s in a pretty protected spot, so I have high hopes that it will survive our winters. Japanese Maples are delicate-looking and their fall color is so spectacular that they’re worth some fussing, I think.I like a touch of whimsy, but it’s easy to go overboard with garden ornaments, especially when a new bed looks kind of bare and lonely. In this bed, I added a few painted bird houses on poles. I’ve surrounded them with Centuara and delphiniums. Once the plants begin to fill in, the bird houses will nestle right in. But I’ve had to resist the urge to add a gazing ball or anything else to bare spots because I want the focus to be on the plants.While waiting for perennials to fill in, annuals are also a great way to add color and fullness. I have several pots with New Guinea Impatiens and some tropical plants so that the space doesn’t look too bare.And finally, a water feature creates a soothing backdrop while I’m digging away and is something to consider, no matter how small the side yard.
Which reminds me, I think I have a few plants left to get into the ground before the mosquitos descend. But I hope this tour has given you a few ideas to consider if you’re in the market for planning some new garden beds this summer.