This simple planting design covers a number of key considerations when planning a landscape.

  • What is the main purpose of the planting design?
  • How much and what “level” of care will be given to this landscape?
  • How will the gardens look throughout the year?

What’s the purpose for this planting design?

Sometimes there is an absolute functional reason to design the landscape, such as a slope with erosion or a nasty view that needs screening.

Other times it could be purely aesthetics where you just want to create something beautiful for enjoyment.  More often than not the two goals work side by side.

From a functional and practical sense, the sign in this landscape needed a “setting” — and one where lawn mowers and other equipment would not come near it.  In addition, future lighting will need a safe area for the fixtures to sit.

Who’s going to take care of this planting design and what’s that care going to cost?

Every aspect of your design should be considered from a maintenance and longevity standpoint.

“Every time you establish a planned landscape there is care and on-going cost associated with it.”

Line design, plant selection & spacing, hardscape choices, groundcovers, mulch – you name it and it will have an affect on care and on-going cost.

Homeowners need to be aware of this fact and consider it in their decision making.  Yes, climbing wisteria is a beautiful thing, but realize what goes along with it.

If you’ll look at the plan pictured below, the shape of the bed is a simple oval; making it a snap to cut the grass and line trim the edge.

The two evergreens used are Cherry Laurel and Blue Star Juniper.  For the most part these plants can mature on their own with little pruning and intervention.

Most problematic and maintenance-heavy landscapes are due to poor plant selection and arrangement.

How will the garden look throughout the year?

A main request for this planting design was to have seasonal color.  For this relatively small garden, I decided on 2 symmetrical areas dedicated to seasonal color.

Yes, we discussed the work and cost to maintain this feature — and it was acceptable.  What you’re seeing now (summer) is New Guinea Impatiens and “Wave” Petunias.

The seasonal color plantings cover April to November.  In the off-season the evergreen Laurel and Juniper carry the garden with balance and interest.

This design is so simple, yet it functions as it should.

  • Kim
    10:23 PM, 19 September 2010

    I love simplicity. This is a nice example. Thank you.

    • Roger
      9:09 PM, 2 October 2010

      Hey, Kim. Yeah, you can’t go wrong with simplicity. It’s classic and elegant, and doesn’t distract from the features you’re trying to complement.

      I see so many landscapes filled with all sorts of plants. I’d say spend less time selecting all these different plants and more time choosing, arranging and spacing the few “right” plants.
      Take care,

  • Fred
    11:46 AM, 24 September 2010

    I’m curious, what comes next in the seasonal spots?

    • Roger
      9:07 PM, 2 October 2010

      I don’t know for sure. This is a school and there is a parent’s association that will now take over the seasonal “change-outs”. I would expect a phone call if they are unsure, but based on some of the other gardening I’ve seen them do…they should be fine on their own.

      To answer your question hypothetically, I would say they would remove the summer flowers, install a balanced arrangement of spring flowering bulbs (i.e. keep that symmetry thing going), and if they wish they could do a fall planting of mums and decorative kale on top (i.e. over the bulbs). They would have to remove the mums and kale when that “show” was done so that the spring bulbs could come up easily in April & May.

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