Natural landscaping creates variety and reduces yard work – The Hartselle Enquirer

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By Barb Brown

Morgan County Master Gardener

Would you like your garden to look more natural, to blend in with your surroundings? Does your garden date back to the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge or just an undeveloped area? Trying to cut back on your yard work? Do you just want your garden to be more like your lifestyle or your personality? Tired of straight lines and a formal and/or structured look?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it may be time to consider more natural landscaping for your yard or part of your yard.

Do you have a slope on your land that could perhaps benefit from landscaping? Natural stone fits much more naturally into the landscape than a concrete wall and will last much longer than wood. If for economic or other reasons you have to opt for concrete or wood, certain plants can come to your rescue. Nature can give you a hand; if it is in a shady area, moss may grow on it. Deadnettle or other native ferns will grow in cracks and crevices to take away the stark barren look. If your terraced area is in the sun, plants like thrift and vinca minor planted in the tiny cracks will add texture, interest and pops of color. In some situations, creeping juniper can be used to hide concrete.

Another solution to a slope and drainage problem is to create a dry creek bed with natural stone. This is a perfect spot to plant ferns and other native plants along the sides of the dry creek bed.

Curved walkways in your yard make it look much more natural. Think about the paths you follow in the forest; they never go in a straight line. These paths could be crushed rock or mulch. Depending on your situation, perhaps the size of your yard and the paths you plan, you may want to line the path with larger stones or wood.

Instead of steel curbs, let’s look again at natural rocks. There are also many products on the market that compromise by at least trying to look a little more natural. Rocks also have the added benefit that with all the nooks and crannies they provide tiny spaces for soil and just a little splash of color to grow.

Now that we’ve started naturalizing your built garden, it’s time to put some “furniture”. If you want natural landscaping (and less yard work), look no further than native or naturalized plants. First, you want perennials – those plants that will come back year after year. Ferns are my favorite plant in this department. Deadnettle, vinca minor, and thrift, as mentioned above, are great for filling in bare spots. The background is the place for the largest bushes – think of native azaleas and oakleaf hydrangeas as two examples. Azaleas bloom in early spring and hydrangeas follow in early summer for continued color.

Daffodils add such a wonderful patch of sunshine tucked here and there among your bushes and are such a joy after winter. For a real surprise, place surprise lily bulbs / naked lady with your daffodils. To really add color and personality, think outside the box and add some yard art. Something you don’t have to mow or weed! A few colorful pots dotted with colorful annuals also add interest without a lot of work.

The key to natural is to blend in with nature and simplify.

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