06 Dec

How to Use Best Ground Covers in Your Landscape Design

Ground covers are excellent landscape design elements. When used effectively, ground covers not only protect the ground from drought and erosion but also supplement your design scheme by supplementing additional colors, forms and texture.

Besides the type of soil and climate, selecting the best ground covers for your landscape design depends on a number of factors:

Growing Conditions: You can find ground covers for almost any purpose and for all spots in your landscapes. Some ground covers grow in shady spots where very few plants can survive. Some are drought-tolerant and they make best ground covers when you want to design low-maintenance landscapes.

Formation: Ground covers have different growing habits. Some ground covers produce lateral branches, some form small mounds, some miniature ground covers stick to the ground whereas some develop upright branches.

Color and Texture: Besides their formation and growing conditions, ground covers offer interesting colors and textures. Some ground covers are evergreen and provide excellent ground coverage, some are used for their interesting colors. Depending on your landscape design, you can pick best ground covers in many different texture: soft and evergreen foliage, woody and deciduous, and so on.

Best Ground Covers for Your Landscape Design

The following is a selection of the best ground covers that you can use in your landscape design.

Kennedia prostrata

Kennedia prostrate is a low-growing plant from tropical and summer rainfall regions. It is hardy to heat and spells of drought and makes the best ground cover for low-maintenance landscapes. (Zone 9a – 10b)
Sedum album

Sedum album or Coral Carpet spreads horizontally and effectively covers empty areas with its succulent growth and tiny, star-shaped flowers of white or pinkish color. Flowers usually appear in midsummer. Sedum album can be propagated from cuttings. It requires bright sunlight and moist but well-drained soil. (Zone 3a – 9b)

Callisia elegans
Callisia or Inch Plant is a genus of low growing plants with delicate and lovely foliage. Native to dry climate of Mexico,these sprawling plants server as best ground covers for dry as well as moderate climates where they are protected from long spells of freeze and frost. (Zone 8a – 10b)

Soleirolia soleirolii
Soleirolia soleirolii or Baby’s Tears is an evergreen and low growing ground cover known for its round cascading leaves. It is the best ground cover for rock gardens and landscapes where it can easily take up empty spaces and form thick mounds of attractive foliage. It can also be used as alternate of grass because it would survive cold and shady spots easily and serve as nice ground cover throughout the year. (Zone 9a – 11)

Convolvulus cneorum
Convolvulus cneorum which is commonly known as Silver Bush grows as low growing plant and usually forms a think carpet of evergreen foliage. Because of its capacity to withstand drought and grow in poor soil, Convolvulus cneorum is a best ground cover for sandy or poor landscapes. (Zone 6a – 9b)

Using Ground Covers in Your Landscape

Browse these beautiful examples of best ground covers used in landscape designs.

15 Nov

How to Use Ferns in Your Garden Landscape

Ferns make excellent landscape plants because of their attractive fronds and their ability to thrive where many plants fail. You can plant them under shady trees, use them as border plants, grow them as ground covers or line garden pathways, and fill empty landscapes with low-maintenance ferns.

Most ferns are easy to maintain. They grow under fully or partially shaded parts of gardens where they benefit from moist but well-drained and loamy soil and moderate watering at regular intervals. When provided with these conditions ferns will produce abundance of lush fronds.

Ferns come in large and small sizes. Some are dwarf and some grow taller. Some form small clusters and some sprawl to cover the landscape. Depending on the size and layout of your garden, you can use ferns in your landscapes for many purposes. They can be used as companion plants with other flowering plants. You can use ferns to provide a lush-green background to your flower beds. You can also incorporate them in your landscapes as specimen plants grown in containers or hanging baskets.

Ferns in Garden Landscape

Here are a few examples of ferns beautifully used in garden landscapes.

Contemporary Landscape with Ferns by New York Architects & Building Designers Princeton Design Collaborative
Tropical Landscape by Sydney Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Secret Gardens
Mediterranean Landscape by Miami Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers orlando comas, landscape architect.
Traditional Pool by Thetford Center Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Shepard Butler Landscape Architecture
Rustic Landscape by Winchester Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design LLC
Contemporary Landscape by Pasadena Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers EPT DESIGN
Traditional Landscape by Greenville Garden & Landscape Supplies Roots - An Urban Gardener's Oasis
Traditional Porch by Mill Valley Architects & Building Designers Sutton Suzuki Architects
Contemporary Landscape by Sausalito Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Shades Of Green Landscape Architecture
Mediterranean Landscape by The Woodlands Architects & Building Designers JAUREGUI Architecture Interiors Construction
Contemporary Deck by Sydney Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Harrison's Landscaping
Modern Landscape by Winters Photographers Dave Adams Photography

 

Some of the ferns suitable for garden landscape include:

  • Adiantum pedatum, Maidenhair fern
  • Athyrium vidalii, Japanese lady fern
  • Blechnum spicant, Deer Fern
  • Cyrtomium falcatum, Japanese holly fern
  • Dennstaedtia punctilobula, Hay-scented fern
  • Dryopteris clintoniana, Clinton’s wood fern
  • Dryopteris tokyoensis, Tokyo wood fern
  • Matteuccia struthiopteris, Ostrich fern
  • Cyrtomium Falcatum, Holly fern
  • Nephrolepis exaltala, Boston fern
07 Nov

15 Ideas for a Beautiful Stone Pathway for Your Garden

Pathways provide a nice solution when you want to control the flow of traffic in your garden. They are also useful when you want to replace uneven and muddy paths with a neat, even and functional pathway.

There are a number of natural and manufactured materials available for laying out garden pathways. My favorite material is stone. It is cost-effective, durable and easy available. Stone is also available in many colors and sizes. Depending on the size and layout of your garden, you can carve out neat and attractive garden pathways using stone. Be creative with you designs but make sure that your design in practical. Do not add unnecessary curves because mowing around curved path is a bit difficult. Also make sure that the surface is even and provides smooth flow of rainwater.

Ideas for a Beautiful Garden Pathway

The following is a collection of 15 impressive ideas for beautiful pathways built with stone.

Mosaic pathway built with stone:

Mediterranean Landscape by San Diego Landscape Contractors DeMaria Landtech, Inc.
Large rectangular stepping stones in this garden look nice and form a symmetrical design.
Traditional Landscape by Atlanta Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Howard Design Studio
A simple and cost-effective design made with gravel and stone.
Southwestern Landscape by Bryn Mawr Interior Designers & Decorators Fred Albert Design
Another simple and attractive pathway made with small rectangular pieces of stone.
Mediterranean Patio by Newport Beach Architects & Building Designers Homer Oatman, AIA
Nicely trimmed and cemented pathway made of stone.
Traditional Landscape by Upland General Contractors Rob Clark Construction Inc.
A modern pathway design made of gravel and stone slabs.
Contemporary Pool by Sydney Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Dean Herald-Rolling Stone Landscapes
Another simple and cost-effective for smaller gardens.
Tropical Landscape by Key West Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Craig Reynolds Landscape Architecture
Another modern and attractive design.
Contemporary Landscape by Coral Gables Architects & Building Designers OBM International
A simple yet beautiful pathway leading from the front door right into the garden.
 Traditional Landscape by Scottsdale Architects & Building Designers Matthew Thomas Architecture, LLC
Beautiful pathway design with two columns of stepping stones.
Traditional Landscape by Wilmington Building Supplies Chadsworth Columns
Gravel and stone used to form a nice, durable pathway.
Industrial Landscape
Attractive side walks made with tiles of stone.
Traditional Pool by Franklin Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers The Office of Joel Tomlin III, LLC.
Mosaic pathway made of stone.
Traditional Landscape by Seattle Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Studio AB
A beautiful example of pathway made with stone.
Contemporary Patio Pathway by Lake Forest Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Architectural Gardens, Inc
A traditional designed with stone.
Victorian Landscape by Minneapolis Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Heidi's Lifestyle Gardens
30 Oct

Landscaping with Ornamental Japanese Blood Grass

Ornamental grasses add a nice texture, unique formation and stunning colors to landscapes. Take the example of Japanese Blood Grass. Known for its fiery red color, this beautiful grass offers great ornamental value especially in the fall.

Imprata cylindrica’Rubra’ or Japanese Blood Grass grows up to 2 feet and forms tight clumps of green and red leaves this making a good choice for filling landscapes. 

Japanese Blood Grass can be planted along pathways where it grows as a low-maintenance ornamental grass.
Japanese Blood Grass can be grown in large containers and used as accent plant. When grown in containers, it is easier to control its otherwise aggressive growth.
The contrasting colors of Japanese Blood Grass make it a nice border plant. The colors depend on light conditions. Bright sunny exposure result in sharp and deep red color.
Japanese Blood Grass makes a nice accent plant.
Japanese Blood Grass can be grown as ornamental plant along ponds and pools.
There are so many ways you can use Japanese Blood Grass in your garden and landscape.
18 Aug

Interlocking Brick Designs for Backyards and Patios

I recently paved my backyard with interlocking bricks. Yes, I do not have my not-so-lush lawn now but the backyard looks neat and still gives me plenty of room to plant my favorites in the bordering raised beds. As I have observed and experienced, interlocking brick designs dramatically improve the landscape. They are durable and easily withstand long spells of freeze and thaw.

As opposed to concrete or brick and mortar floors, interlocking bricks can be installed in various patterns and offer a variety of material (clay, concrete, stone etc.) texture and color.

If you are considering interlocking bricks in your patio or backyard, this is a useful article on cost, material, pros and cons of installing interlocking bricks. If you want to do it yourself, follow this link for step-by-step DIY instructions on installing an interlocking brick pattern in your backyard or patio.

Examples of Interlocking Brick Design

Browse these beautiful examples of interlocking brick designs for your inspiration.

31 May

Design Ideas for Kids Friendly Backyards

Why the big boys have all the fun. These practical and kids friendly backyards show a lot of potential for turning your backyard into a fun house for the little ones. No, you do not have to compromise on your favorite plants, landscape design or barbecue spot. There are plenty of opportunities for integrating a small swing, a little fun house, a sandbox and a dedicated area for kids to play.

Browse these simple and practical examples of kids friendly backyards for your inspiration.

24 May

15 Ideas for Beautiful Fence Wall Designs

Fences serve many purposes. They can be used to: define borders of your property, keep invading animals away, and serve as privacy screen, architectural element or an extension of your landscape design.

Today we are exploring some interesting experiments with fencing wall designs. These experimental designs reflect potential of using various materials, styles and sizes to turn otherwise ordinary fences  into beautiful design elements.

1. Beautiful use of steel blades to form a nicely patterned, secure and durable fencing wall.

 

2. Very unusual and creative use of acrylic bars to form a nice fence. It does not provide privacy but it surely looks neat and attractive.

 

3. A practical use of bamboos to form a defensive fencing wall that serves it purpose and still looks elegant.

 

4. Use of steel wires and wood to create a beautiful living fence. You can grow your favourite plants along this beautiful and low-cost fence.

 

5. Another creative idea for putting a low-cost yet elegant fence that can be modified to adjust to different heights.

 

6. When security is a concerns, use a taller and sturdy fence wall like this one. It also features a lockable entrance.

 

7. A modern and practical kids-friendly fence wall with a chalkboard.

 

8. A plain yet fence wall design idea for modern urban homes.

 

9. A nice fence design made of birch tree sticks, and recycled metal wires and panels.

 

10. Creative use of steel bars to design an architectural element out of a practical fence.

 

11. Panels of steel sheet also give a simple and rustic design element to fencing wall that nicely integrates with the landscape.

 

12. Another use of metal sheets to design a unique and lovely fence wall that supplements the landscape.

 

13. Consider this ‘peekaboo’ fence that breaks up the monotony and unfriendly looks of a long, boring wooden fence.

 

14. Practical use of metal posts fencing that serves it purpose well and yet confirms with visual continuity between the private property and the open landscape beyond.

15. Even a traditional wooden fence can be made beautiful with sensible use of plantation.

22 May

Top Tips for Gardening in a Small Backyard / Patio

Gardening in a small backyard or patio can be challenging – what plants should you select for all-seasons interest, how should you arrange your plants for best display, and how should you integrate your favorite plants with your day-to-day family activities – this article answers all of these questions.

Also see: Simple & Beautiful Deck Design Projects

What plants should you grow in your small backyard/ patio?

Plants come in many sizes, colors, and textures. And they all have their specific requirements. Because you cannot make major changes to your backyard or patio, you should select plants that can easily integrate in your existing settings – soil type, space, sunlight, and effects of changing seasons.

Small and enclosed spaces tend develop their own microclimate with higher level of moisture and retained heat. Therefore it is important to select plants that are hardy and require less maintenance.

Plants in enclosed backyard or patios are more likely to transfer insects and diseases to other plants. Therefore, it is recommended that you keep a vigilant eye on insects and immediately isolate infected plants.

When buying a plant for your small backyard or patio, carefully consider its growing habits and the room that it would require in coming years. Some plants have columnar growth and do not spread much, some remain solitary but produce heavy foliage, some plants develop clumps and require more space than others, some plants do not attain much height, some shed their leaves in fall, and some are evergreen. Make sure that you plant them in the right place in your backyard or patio. Plants with columnar growth can be used to form a background for plants that attain medium to low height.

Usually low-growing shrubs and bushes make nice plants for small backyards. There are a plenty of flowering shrubs that do not need regular pruning and produce attractive foliage and flowers. Small empty spaces can be cultivated with ground covers.

Mix and match plants for all-season interest. Combine annuals, perennials, small trees, and flowering shrubs. Visit your local garden center and you will find many species with foliage that change colors throughout the year. You can also find interesting accent plants that add architectural interest to your garden.

Top Plants for Growing in a Small Backyard or Patio

  1. Cycas revoluta for interesting and evergreen foliage.
  2. Plumeria, when you need a small tree with lovely and fragrant flowers.
  3. Angel’s Trumpet for stunning and fragrant flowers.
  4. Agaves and Euphorbias for year-round interest.
  5. Bamboos for evergreen foliage.
  6. Canna for nice and colorful foliage.
  7. Mandevilla for nice trailing branches and attractive flowers.
  8. Boxwood for evergreen and hardy foliage.

Top Examples of Small Space Backyard / Patio Gardens

03 May

Gardening by the Poolside – Practical Tips

Gardening by the side of an outdoor pool not only adds life and serenity to the environment but also gives you many option to introduce privacy, shade, and seasonal interest to the landscape. Today’s posts gives some handy tips on gardening by the poolside.

  1. Select low-maintenance, evergreen plants. They do not shed a lot of leaves. Deciduous plants shed a lot of leaves that clog filters.
  2. When space is not an issue, grow plants at least 4 to 5 feet from the pool to keep debris and soil from contaminating the pool.
  3. Pools create a micro environment – moist and humid. Carefully consider plants that can easily adjust to this type of climate.
  4. Mix and match small trees, shrubs, ground covers, and seasonal bloomers to design a balanced landscape by the poolside.
  5. Small trees are best for creating some shady spots where as shrubs and bushes can be planted for introducing interesting foliage and texture.
  6. Use bushes or small trees to create privacy screens.
  7. Creepers and ground covers are helpful in filling empty spaces and keeping debris and soil from washing away with rainwater.
  8. Some succulents make nice accent plants and can be easily incorporated in your landscape design. Most of them are low on maintenance and last long.
  9. Use ornamental grasses. There are many ornamental grasses that can grow to short and medium height and add delicate, feathery texture to the landscape. See examples of landscaping with ornamental grasses.
  10. Use pergolas, and trellises, oversized planters to introduce artistic element and structural depth to the environment. See examples of modern trellis designs.

Besides a long list of plants to grow by the poolside, here is a list of some unusual and interesting plants that you should consider:

Shrubs & Bushes to grow along the poolside

  • Kalanchoe beharensis – hardy and evergreen bush known for its distinct looks and unusual foliage
  • Loropetalum chinense – evergreen shrub with fringe-like flowers that appear in spring and summer.
  • Pelargonium trifidum – low-growing shrub with sprawling branches and brittle stems. The leaves are succulent and aromatic. When provided with proper support of a tree or fence, the plant can grow up to 1 meter.
  • Alluaudia procera – a really striking succulent shrub grown for its ornamental value.
  • Breynia disticha – makes an excellent plant for borders where it grows as a small shrub (up to 4 feet) and produces beautiful foliage of green, white and pink colors.

Small trees to grow by the poolside

  • Schotia brachypetala – low-maintenance small tree with attractive evergreen foliage and large clusters of spring flowers.
  • Amherstia nobilis – though hard to find, this low-maintenance tree produces very attractive and unusual flowers.
  • Brownea coccinea – evergreen plant that grows into a small spreading tree and produces nice foliage and flowers.
  • Nymania capensis – Evergreen shrubby tree known for its beautiful, rose-pink and papery seed pods that look like Chinese paper lantern.

Ornamental grasses to grow by the poolside

Accent plants to grow by the poolside:

Examples of Gardening by the Poolside

28 Apr

The Ultimate Guide to Designing Beautiful Xeriscapes

Though the word sounds complicated, Xeriscaping is a simple and practical technique of designing water-efficient landscapes. Xeriscaping involves preparation of soil, selection of plants and design of landscape layout to minimize the use of water.

In a nutshell, an efficient xeriscape is a low-maintenance, high impact and water-wise landscape.

Useful Tips for Designing Efficient Xeriscapes

Following are some basic pointers to designing an effective xeriscape:

Improve Soil

Soil is the first thing you should analyze when planning a xeriscape. Make sure that the soil is able to retain moisture by adding organic matter to the soil. See: Tips to improve sandy soil organically

Select the right plants

Select native plants; they are low on maintenance and do not usually need frequent watering. There is a wide variety of drought-tolerant plants that can be used in xeriscapes. See: 100+ xeriscape plants.

Design effective layouts

Design your xeriscape layout to ensure minimum waste of water. You can use terraced layout, pathways, and slopes to ensure that water can easily flow through your garden and irrigate most parts of the xeriscape.

Use planting techniques

Be creative when planting. Plants with similar requirements can be grouped together to ensure efficient use of water. Plant xerophytes on slopes.

Irrigate efficiently

Irrigate in evening or early morning to reduce evaporation. Contain rainwater for irrigating your xeriscape. Replace sprinkler system with drip irrigation system.

Mulch the bare soil

Use a lot of mulch. Topping up the bare soil with two to four inches of mulch prevents water evaporation, maintains an even, cool soil temperature and prevents the germination of weed seeds. The best time to apply mulch is in late spring after the soil has warmed, but before summer’s heat begins. A late autumn mulching helps avoid the alternate freezing and thawing of soil.

Suitable Plants for Xeriscapes

Selection of plants greatly depends on your climate. I have listed about 100 drought-tolerant plants along with their culture, growth requirements and USD zones here. You can also browse the following list of popular plants that can be used in most xeriscapes.

Perennials

  • Artemisias
  • Asters
  • Columbine
  • Coreopsis
  • Delphinium
  • Echinacea
  • Gaillardia
  • Iris
  • Lavender
  • Pansy
  • Sages
  • Sedums
  • Tulips and crocuses
  • Yucca

Annuals

  • Cosmos
  • Ganzania
  • Marigold
  • Mexican Sunflower
  • Phlox
  • Portulaca
  • Vinca
  • Zinnias

Succulents 

  • Cotyledon
  • Crassula
  • Dudleya
  • Kalanchoe
  • Sedum
  • Aloe
  • Agave
  • Bulbine

Ornamental Grasses

Useful Xeriscape Resources

xeriscape

How to determine cost of your xeriscape project

Do’s and Don’ts of Xeriscaping

[Pocket Guide] Xeriscaping at Home

[Book] Creating the Prairie Xeriscape by Sara Williams

Step-by-Step Guide to Practical Xeriscaping

[Photos] 15 examples of xeriscaping with succulents

[Photos] 9 examples of xeriscaping with cacti

[Free PDF Guide] Basics of Xeriscaping

Examples of Beautiful Xeriscape Design