N – Native Plants
Ready to push the easy button in your low-maintenance garden this year? Good because native plants are in and easy.
By definition, native plants are indigenous to a given area in geologic time. Plants that have developed, occur naturally, or existed for many years in an area. Trees, flowers, and grasses.
Native plants do a better job providing food and shelter for native wild animals so they are the foundation of our ecosystems.
They require far less water which saves both time and money. We love native plants like milkweed for attracting monarch butterflies.
One of my neighbors planted orchids in her landscaping. I’m still wondering how she thought that fairy tale was going to end when the temps dipped to zero degrees. So. Not. Native. Plant.
O – Ornamental Grasses
It’s the year of non-fussy which is why ornamental grasses are a must. We’re not talking lawn grasses here which get mowed down, but rather a group of plants with varying heights, textures, shapes and colors. This is how you add beauty and interest to the garden with less work. No mowing required.
So manageable, they can be grown under many diverse soil conditions while few pests bother them. Drought tolerant too!
Ornamental grasses always seem to give the illusion of height and movement in the garden in that flashy, exotic way of theirs.
Here’s a few to think about with the zebragrass ranking at the top of our list.
P – Patterned Foliage
Plants whose foliage has been patterned with stripes, dashes, dots and slashes are being spotted everywhere. We are always bowled over by the purple and green Wandering Jew plant as shown to the left.
Pinterest searches for “plants with interesting foliage” is up +533% in 2017. You know what this means….it’s time to pot some today!
Variegated leaves are a hot spot right now. Choose various textures, shapes and colors for one unique and glamorous pot. In fact, you don’t even need “blooms” anymore with all the variation……the striking shades of greens blended with purples, pinks and browns offer a splendid roundup.
The time to acquire a Jewel Orchid is now as they are more famous for their stunning foliage than their flower!
Q – Quintessential cut flowers in unique vases
Stop feeling guilty about it. You know exactly of what I speak. Cutting flowers to put in an indoor vase. Honestly, I’ve felt the guilt too.
But when I realize that I’m going to enjoy these flowers even more inside than I would outside, I let it go.
Besides, this is why you intentionally grow specific flowers that make excellent cut flowers.
It’s time to indulge in a few fancy vases. How about a wall vase to add a little indoor glam?
R – Rainscaping – rain barrels – rain gardens
Rain gardens are landscape features designed to capture and naturally filter storm water. They use shallow depressions to collect, slow down, and spread water over a larger area. This allows it time to soak into the ground rather than flow into storm sewers and then into nearby waterways.
Rain barrels collect water from rooftops. They are attached to the downspouts on your home and also help keep groundwater and waterways clean.
Rain gardens, rainscaping and rain barrels capture runoff and slowly filter out common pollutants and sentiment.
We love using the water in our two rain barrels to cut down on our water bills. Our plants appreciate the minerals in this water too!
S – She-sheds
A room of her own. That’s what the she-shed is all about. Enough already with all that nonsense that the shed is just another man cave. Just a place for his leaf blower, weed wacker and lawn mower. Barf!
It’s time the lady of the house gets her own space – for her garden tools! And why shouldn’t it double as a potting shed and mini greenhouse? This is where your seeds are sown and transplanting is done.
Your favorite shovel and pair of pruners? Hide them here. It’s just to dang frustrating not to be able to find your tools when you need them.
Window box stuffed with flowers highly recommended but not required! Make it adorable because it’s all yours.
T- Terrariums for plants & animals
Terrariums range from the simple DIY variety fashioned from a glass jar to modern masterpieces of design and technology, equipped with air circulation fans, sensors and light displays. The latter allows for humidity loving plants to survive and thrive replicating the conditions found under the tropical forest canopy.
Think exotic plants like orchids, air plants, mosses, ferns and carnivorous plants such as Venus fly traps and Pitcher plants. Some terrariums even allow for poison dart frogs.
And with today’s technology, natural daylight isn’t needed so they can be placed in areas where other plants wouldn’t survive. LED lighting can emit the perfect light output for encouraging plant growth working on an automatic 24 hour cycle, simulating sunrise, daylight, sunset and nighttime.
Space saving in size their sheer fascinating beauty will have you staring all day at the 360 degree micro-climate world you’ve created.
I get goosebumps just thinking about it!
U – Upcycled water features
Long gone are the days when you had to spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on a water feature for your garden.
Now a DIY one will do. Not only for those feathered friends who’d love a drink but also for the bees and butterflies who are now drawn to your yard because of the native plants.
Tom made me the bird bath shown to the left out of rock from Lake Ontario. He used a copper basin that we decided not to use on our rain chain as the water container.
We love how it personalizes our garden, is custom made, was cheap to do and is a one-of-a-kind showpiece.
So take what you have and re-purpose it for your pleasure and use. Could be an old container or tub, musical instrument, or antique sink. The sky is the limit.
Trickling water is soothing and relaxing!
V- Vining Plants
Vining plants cover a multitude of sins. Those eyesores in your yard? Just grow a plant over them and suddenly the space looks shabby chic. Think of the Japanese art form of Wabi-Sabi. Laid-back and non-fussy gardening.
I even saw a morning glory growing up a telephone poll and I’ll admit it almost looked cute!
Big and bushy vining plants can also help block noise and create a sort of privacy fence.
Consider sweet peas, morning glory, black-eyed Susan, nasturtiums and a canary creeper to add bold, bright color and tangled interest to your landscape.
W – Weathered copper patina
Did you hear? Brass is out but weathered copper patina is in. So is aging! Phew. Now that I’m pushing 40.
It’s the richness factor that’s so charming. Copper aging to a lovely, minty green.
Both my copper rain chain and copper weathervane are aging to a sophisticated patina and I couldn’t be more pleased.
The blueish/greenish shades against the bright copper create a worn and trodden look to my landscape that I wouldn’t otherwise have.
Oxidation and exposure to the elements lay at the root of this antique design feature.
X – Xeriscape
Xeriscaping refers to the conservation of water through creative landscaping.
Not only will you save water with less maintenance but this pollution free landscaping alternative improves property value by drought-proofing it.
This is where drip irrigation and rain barrels are big. And don’t underestimate natural precipitation.
You’ll also be providing familiar habitat to the local wildlife by planting native plants, shrubs and trees. Just say no to fertilizers and pesticides.
A water-wise xeriscape is tough, durable, self-sustaining, beautiful, and lush.
Xeriscape can reduce landscape water use by 50-75%.
Y – Yucca
Can you blame me? I was struggling with a “Y” and finally settled on yucca.
Typically, yucca grows in naturally, hot, dry desert climates, open plains, and dunes in the southwestern and southeastern portions of the U.S.
But I grew up with a yucca in our front landscaping so anything is possible. It thrived on top of a magnificent rock and looked great!
Famous for their foliage, long and lance-like green spikes with dynamic white/yellow flowers drawing the eye upwards, how can you resist a yucca?
Use in your succulent or rock garden or even desertscape as a background screen. The yucca can also be your new accent plant…the new focal point of your garden. Grow in a pot if you must to overwinter. But choose a small yucca if you do!
Mulch with gravel, rock, sand. Grows from 3- 30 feet tall to 3-10 feet wide. Oh….the drama!
Z – Zonal plantings
Zonal plantings is one of the new buzzwords for gardening 2018. It’s a term that addresses the age-old practice of companion gardening, forcing you to intelligently create zones for water use.
By grouping plants with similar water requirements together, you create a landscape that is both stunning to look at and water-efficient.
Begin with the water zone closest to your house. These are the plants that require the most water – a mini-oasis. Those shady areas east and north of your home are ideal spots for foundation plantings.
Also include the areas shaded by adjacent structures, such as carports and patio roofs in this zone that use run-off from the roof and the downspouts. Zone one is the smallest zone square footage-wise because planter beds, pots and patios interrupt the planting area of this zone.
The second zone serves as the transition zone, blending the lush area with the dry area of the landscape. We’re looking at moderate to low water plants for this spot.
The third zone is the arid, dry zone that’s farthest from the house and gets less traffic. This is where those native plants go! These plants should require zero extra water once established.