Springtime Landscape Trait is Freshness

04/02/2011 | Ken Lain, mountain gardener Landscaping

Our spring yards should appear touched by the freshness associated with the season. They should boast fresh new foliage gracing the garden, fresh new bulbs emerging from the earth, and/or fresh new flowers accenting the vitality of spring.

Each year every landscape should have strategic new plants added to it. This will bring a fresh look to the yard and spruce up our neighborhoods. Each of us has neighbors that haven’t added a new plant to their yards since moving in . . . maybe 10 years ago. Now their junipers are barky and splayed open, their roses haven’t bloomed in five years, and their lawns were rocked over after the kids moved away. I actually can drive through many neighborhoods and date the homes simply by the old and tired landscapes in the front yards. I won’t even go into the unfinished back yards.

A landscape should be remodeled for the same reasons a bathroom or a kitchen occasionally is remodeled, to bring a pick-me-up to its surroundings. Without the occasional “facelift”, a yard or garden quickly becomes overgrown and woody without that invigorating show of vibrant new plants.

This is especially true for business and commercial properties; most owners don’t have a clue how run down their businesses look from a customer’s perspective. McDonald’s restaurants made famous the routinely spiffed-up commercial landscape. McD’s thinking is: “If our landscapes are fresh and clean as customers approach our drive-through windows, then they are more likely to consider our food as fresher then our competitors”. This holds true not only for businesses but also for all of us who entertain family and friends on our back porches and patios.

Even in my garden center landscape I plant with a running time in mind of no more than 4 years. For instance, at the parking lot entrance I plant with the expectation that in 3 or 4 years I will cut down a tree or two, dig out shrubs and over-grown grasses and replace them with fresh new plants. This presents a consistently “fresh face” to our customers.

Whether you are new to a home or old to a home, consider adding fresh new plants to spruce up the landscape. It will make you feel better, show off your home, update your part of the neighborhood, and show you care about how the yard looks.

Many examples of tremendously damaged plants have been brought to the garden center; they are evidence of the burning and killing power of a harsh winter. Whether you replace or add one or more new plants, at the very least feed everything in the yard. In spring evergreens should be robust, rich colors. If those in your landscape have lost their vitality and color, and just look sick, they need a good feeding. My mountain specific “All Purpose Plant Food” is just what evergreens need. Although yellow evergreens are hungry to flush vivid new spring growth, everything in our yards is hungry right now and will benefit from a spring feeding.

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This week’s featured plant is the Purple Twist Plum. It is in bloom around town, with profuse pink flowers preceding its deep purple foliage. A really showy landscape plant, this small purple-colored tree is ideal to plant between evergreens. It is large enough to use as a front yard tree in city lots or as a well-behaved street tree. Other effective design uses for these blooming beauties are as matched pairs to flank gateways and driveways or in orchard-like rows to screen out unsightly views. They are available in three different sizes, all good for planting now.

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Mothers, daughters, and gardens seem to go together. So, with those components as the theme, Watters Garden Center and The Daily Courier are sponsoring a photo contest. Submit your favorite mother-daughter garden photo and if your picture is chosen you will win one of many prizes, the top award being a $150 Watters gift card to use for anything you like at the garden center.

Earlier in the week I let my 630 Facebook fans know about the contest, and while I must confess that I love these first entries, I can hardly wait to see what the notice in today’s article brings! It really would be nice if one of the readers of this column were to be the winner. Enter electronically by looking for Watters the next time you are in Facebook. I also posted the entry form on the front page of my web site at www.wattersonline.com .

Until next week, I’ll see you at the garden center.