By Debbie Roland and
Have you ever found yourself in your garden thinking “I have to do something here”. Well, you can!
When considering designing or modifying your landscape or garden, it helps to think about the rooms in your home. Just as in a house there is a room to eat, a room to store cleaning products, a room to play and a room to take refuge, the same goes for the yard! What do you need from your garden? A place to play for your children or grandchildren? A place for your dogs? Flowers and vegetables? How about a barbecue area or a place to eat outside?
Your garden should be a magical place and it should have at least a small escape zone. A table with a comfortable chair or bench will invite you and your guests to sit and listen to the birds and watch the plants grow. Once you know what you want, you can move on. Don’t make your landscape too difficult. There is elegance in simplicity.
In the best of all possible worlds, draw your thoughts or designs on paper, a landscape plan. Think about where you want to place your “rooms”, what you already have in your yard, and where the sunny and shady areas of your yard are. This will help you decide on the shape and location of your beds or where you might want to sit.
Hardscape, the non-veg features, are just as important as the plants you want to grow. And don’t forget to schedule irrigation so your plants can thrive! Fencing is for both privacy and aesthetics. If you have a 6 foot fence, putting tall plants against it will brighten it up. You can always give your landscape a boost by adding a large hard landscape. The idea is to look up. Tall metal sculptures or pillars create a striking element of surprise.
In West Texas we usually have access to rocks. A short curved stacked stone wall that delimits beds or walkways is an eye-catcher. Plan a width of 4′ for your walkways. There should be enough room for two people to walk side by side. Always have curves in your garden. This builds intrigue and will make people wonder what happens next. You don’t need a lot of space to do this!
Night lighting creates ambiance and helps to move around. You can use solar lights, electric lights, or even battery-operated lights in your garden. Some irrigation controllers can be paired with lights so they are also on a timer. Whatever type of light you use, remember that light interferes with insect life cycles, so put lights on timers or use yellow bulbs.
Finally, the plants…. When planning, keep in mind that we are in a stage 5 drought. There are a multitude of native plants that will help with texture and color. Installing flower boxes and tubs is perfect for growing herbs. Large containers near your grill provide you with fresh herbs to add to meat and vegetables. It will be a feast for your eyes and your palate. If you like wreaths on your portals, buy them or make them with plants that will grow in our climate. Using herbs and flowers that grow here will blend in better and be more pleasing to the eye.
In the words of Scott Ogden and Lauren Springer Ogden in their book, Plant Driven Design: Creating Gardens that Honor Plants, Place, and Spirit, “The most essential element of any garden is not an object, a plant or a particular tool. What is vital is a gardener who enjoys it. Unfortunately, much of what is promoted or called a garden in North America is nothing more than a landscape installation. love has nothing to do with it.”
—Scot Ogden and Laura Springer Ogden, Plant Driven Design, p. 9-10.
So get out there and garden; share the love!
For more information, call the AgriLife office at 498-4071 in Odessa or 686-4700 in Midland or visit aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu or westtexasgardening.org.