There’s a garden type to suit every need and whim described below. Note the suggested plants, and supplement or substitute plants to suit your purposes.
Renowned for their geometric shapes, large sculptures and fountains, angular look and manicured perfection, formal gardens are most at home on formal, gated estates. They need almost daily maintenance, and they’re the most expensive gardens to build and maintain. Unless you can afford a gardener or you live a life of leisure, you’ll probably want something less formal for your yard.
Foundation planting consists of trees, plants and shrubs that surround the front of the house. A house without foundation plants looks bare and unkempt, and a foundation garden is a quick and easy way to add to the value of your property with a minimum of expense. It’s also the most important planting in the yard. Foundation gardens, once established, need little upkeep with the right combination of plants. The object is to complement, not compete with, the house. Plant shrubs and small, slow-growing trees such as a Japanese maples rather than a profusion of flowers surrounding the front of your home. Plant taller trees and shrubs at the end of the house, with smaller shrubs
occupying the center. Dogwoods and azaleas add color in the spring, nandinas add a fiery red during fall and early winter, hydrangeas add color during the summer.
Rhododendrons add year-round interest with their evergreen, waxy leaves. Dot the foundation with a minimum of flowers to add a spot of color here and there when the shrubs have lost their blooms.
A border garden can disguise an ugly chain-link fence or provide privacy at the property line. It can also add low color to a stone fence. Use tall flowers or flowering shrubs in the back of the garden. Vines that grow like weeds provide seasonal disguise for a fence. Morning glory and moonflowers, both annual vines, need little care and
provide a profusion of blooms throughout the summer.
A cottage garden is an informal garden, full of surprise. Often called a country garden, you’ll find color up upon color of old favorites seeming to grow on top of one another. If you plan the cottage garden right, you won’t be bothered with weeding. The flowers will choke out the weeds, not the other way around.
Formal or informal gardens built around a sidewalk or natural walkway add allure and draw the visitor in. You can simply rim a sidewalk with monkey grass or you can design a more elaborate walkway garden, combining several low-growing plants into a more freeform design.
Lamp Post and Mailbox Gardens (Fixture Gardens)
If you have one of those new, gargantuan mailboxes to hold your ever-increasing daily allotment of junk mail, you might want to spruce it up a bit. Large mailboxes and lamp posts look lost when plopped in the ground without any thought to design. A few plants can work wonders for curb appeal. Use low plants such as miniature day lilies around
the base, and allow flowering vines to wind their way up the posts from the foundation. Be kind to your mail deliverer. If you must plant roses around the mailbox, make sure they’re miniature rosebushes.