The Basic Elements to Creating a Beautiful Landscape Garden

Gardens do not take up much space, yet they can add life and excitement to any yard.  A garden need not be museum-ready or qualify to accompany the Queen of England’s royal tea party to be enjoyed. A garden is an extension of a homeowner’s personality and a great backdrop fit for any yard.

Gardens keep us close to nature and lift our spirits. Whether a small, potted plant or a mélange of seasonal tulips, gardens bring a sense of calm and loveliness to any outdoor space.

Many homeowners and renters throw away the idea of a garden because of space and maintenance issues. If you love exotic plants and high-priced luxuries, go for it! But if you are living on a tight budget, you can still enjoy the ambience of a pleasing garden. Fortunately, you can find many low-maintenance plants that are inexpensive and require minimal care. And small spaces are the perfect backdrop for inexpensive window boxes, potted plants or self-contained raised garden beds.

Whether your yard is large, or a small plot fit for a family brunch, the basics of creating a garden remain the same. Consider these tips before you start so you can ensure the final product matches your thoughts, hopes and dreams.


Every element of your garden should complement each other. Consider the type of flower before adding new elements. Be careful not to mix two separate design styles like a Japanese water feature with a Victorian-inspired rose trellis. If you want to add several styles into one space, separate the areas to create boundaries so that each space receives it own measure of appreciation.

Color Choice

This is your chance to really make your personality shine! Use color to add an explosion of interest to your garden. Loud colors bring the eye forward while muted colors push the eye back. Use bright colors on features you want to stand out and darker colors on those you want to serve as a creative backdrop. Be careful not to overwhelm a more relaxed garden with too much color. Consider your overall theme first.

Scale and Proportion

If you have a small ledge, you wouldn’t add a bright spotlight to illuminate your small, potted plant. In the same manner, pay attention to the scale of your garden and avoid overpowering it with elements that are too large for the space. Consider the mature height of trees as well and unite the scale of each element so the overall appearance looks unified.

Walkways and Pathways

If you have a larger garden you may need to consider the paths leading to it and around it. Remove any obstructions to paths and make room for walkways so visitors can stroll through the garden without effort.

Any outdoor space can be injected with the life a garden brings. If you need more help coming up with ideas for your space, visit your local nursery and ask a knowledgeable salesperson for advice. Bring with you a sketch of your space as well as the general outdoor style you desire.

Landscaping Protection Tips for the Winter

Do you slave away in your front yard during the summer, pruning every bush and painstakingly manicuring every blade of grass three times a week? If you are deeply in love with your landscaping, then you are probably a little dismayed when winter rolls around.

Winter officially begins on December 21, but it’s best to begin planning for the cold weather while it’s still warm outside. If you take the proper measures, you can protect your lawn from the elements and shield your plants until the spring.

Salts and Oil Sprays

Salt is a common remedy for melting ice on driveways and sidewalks after a hard freeze. However, if salt falls anywhere near plants and shrubs, it can seriously damage the roots.

When you’re applying salt to your walkways and driveway, use it carefully and stay away from nearby plants and shrubs. If your plants exhibit yellow or brownish tones come spring, salt may be the culprit. Opt for sawdust or sand to melt ice instead to sidestep this potential catastrophe.

Deciduous shrubs and trees are susceptible to mites and other overwintering critters. Using a miscible oil spray during the colder months is a great way to protect your plants from such insects. Only apply miscible oil spray when temperatures are over 40 degrees F., and never spray the oil within a 24-hour window of a deep freeze.

Pruning during the Winter Months

Many people believe that plants don’t need pruning during the winter, but this is not entirely true. Some plants must be pruned during the colder months so they bloom when spring arrives. If you have summer-flowering bushes such as hydrangeas or hibiscus flowers, they still need intermittent pruning during the winter.

Leave deciduous trees alone for the majority of the winter months, but remember they will need a little TLC as the seasons change. Remove deadwood from the trunks to encourage growth and protect your trees against deadly fungal diseases.

Protecting New Plant Growth

Late winter is the best time to plant new flowers and add to your existing landscaping. In most areas, the month is mild enough to support plant growth. Take care to select the right flowers, however. Good choices are snapdragons, petunias, or other flowers called “annuals” that start their life cycle in cooler months.

The trick is to plant the annuals in highly enriched soil. Ensure there is adequate room for drainage to keep the flowers protected from overwatering. Also, pat on an extra layer of mulch to protect your flowers from the elements until spring arrives, and stake new plants to keep them shielded from wind damage.

It’s also wise to check your sprinkler system often during the winter season. Cold weather can wreak havoc on water lines, so it is vital to run your sprinklers and check each sprinkler head for proper water output.

If you take a few simple steps to protect your landscaping during the winter, your yard will be healthy, happy, and ready to bloom when spring finally rolls around.


Landscape Lighting for Smaller Spaces

We often dream of expansive backyards filled with lavish greenery, ornate fountains, koi ponds and babbling brooks. But, some of us barely have enough yard space to hold a garage-store BBQ and a hand-me-down patio set. Should you abandon your dreams of a beautifully lit landscape if your space and your wallet won’t allow it? Never!

Your backyard may not look like it was designed by Rockefeller, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add a few elements to make you feel like a king—even if your castle is far from reality. Outdoor lighting at any scale gives an outdoor area much-needed attention and can make you feel cozy and comfortable as well.

Small Houses and Small Yards

If you own a small house, add some lighting to your outdoor area to make it feel like an additional room of the house. Do you entertain in the space? Guests will appreciate the space and consider it an extension of your home if it is properly lit. Solar-powered lights are inexpensive and work well to light pathways or steps leading to a patch of grass where guests congregate. Additionally, if you have any special features, even if it is a cute bird feeder, consider lighting it to add interest.


If your patio is your only oasis, you are not out of luck. Low voltage or solar lighting provides an adequate amount of illumination without overpowering the area or hedging into your neighbor’s property. Avoid strong spotlights or harsh beams. Install lighting on railing posts or on post caps lining your patio stairs.

Globe patio lights are a beautiful design element for any patio. If your patio is on the large side, consider a single globe light that stands on its own or can be floated in a pool for an extra effect. If space is a concern, use smaller globe lights strung together and extend them in different directions above the patio to create a beautiful ambiance at night.

Porch Light

For all the homeowners or renters out there with miniscule backyard space, there is still hope. Most people have porch lights which help to illuminate the outdoors whether they own a balcony or a one-acre yard. Consider a light that provides maximum illumination for guests and for safety, but also unites the outdoors with the indoor decor to further exemplify your design style. Install the light high enough to illuminate the area but not low enough to glare in people’s faces. Look for lights that cater to your design style like modern, contemporary, mission-style, or Southwestern. Even something as insignificant as a porch light can uplift your outdoor space regardless of how small it is.

You may not own a 10,000 acre estate, ripe with well-landscaped grass and prize rose beds, but you can still make your small space your own with a little effort. Get creative and think outside of the box when it comes to your landscape lighting. Sometimes good things really do come in small packages.