Spring is a great time for landscaping – Shawnee News-Star

Pat Neasbitt Master Gardener

Last week it was almost too hot and windy to work outside without following the shade, then Mother Nature threw in storms and hail to liven things up since it’s Oklahoma. It’s been so cold, wet and windy this week that we want to sit in front of the fireplace with a hot cup of tea and watch the new weeds brought in by the rains. Although we have plenty of time at home since it finally rains, it’s a good time to think about our landscapes and plan when we can go out. This year may be an opportunity to work on making our yards and our landscapes a more welcoming and beautiful place to enjoy and appreciate nature. If you are landscaping a new home or adding and renovating older plantings, here are some things to consider.

• Always start planning on paper. It is much easier to use an eraser than a shovel. It doesn’t need to be a landscape architect’s rendering, just a simple drawing with directions marked and existing buildings, trees, and other major features such as located driveways and sidewalks. Planting the right plants in the right place is extremely important, and knowing where the sunny areas and shady areas are can save you a lot of time, money, and heartache by planting the right plants in the right places. I know I said that twice; however, it is one of the most important considerations.

• Paths and driveways should be straight and direct unless there is a good reason otherwise.

• Make borders and flower beds with large, flowing curves, so you can easily and quickly mow around them instead of having to stop and back up and try to mow around corners or weed where the mower won’t. can not reach.

• Trees should frame the house and provide a backdrop. They should not block or hide the house. They should also be high enough that you don’t have to bend down to walk or mow under them.

• Do not overplant. Make sure you know the size of the plant and don’t plant too close together.

• Confine plant specimens to the perimeter of the lawn area in a typical suburban yard. The cleared lawn will look spacious and will be much easier to mow.

• Monitor the scale of plantings. If you have a small house and a small yard, large plants can overwhelm them.

• Balance is important in landscaping. Don’t put all the color and plantings on one side of the yard or it will look lopsided. This doesn’t mean there have to be identical plantings on either side, but the scale should be equal to be pleasing to the eye.

• Create focal points and points of interest. It can be exceptional plants, a view, a pergola or limited tasteful statuary. Have a focal point in the backyard where you spend most of your time as well as in the front.

• Statues, benches and water features can be used as focal points, but choose them carefully and don’t overuse them.

• To make the entrance welcoming, do not place large shrubs near the door. Use larger shrubs or small trees near the corners of the house and gradually narrow them down near the doorway to make it the focal point.

• Don’t rely on a foundation planting with only perennials, annuals and roses in front of the house. They provide no color or interest during the winter.

• You don’t have to plant the entire foundation of the house. Foundation plantings were originally used because houses had tall, ugly foundations that needed to be hidden. Ground covers between low-growing shrubs can tie plantings together. Don’t put all your best plants against the foundation where only the neighbors can see them.

• Usually, smaller plants with fine textures are better placed in the foreground and larger plants with coarser materials and larger leaves are better placed in the background.

• Edge plantings can be used alone or in conjunction with fencing to define property boundaries and achieve needed privacy and quiet. This is the perfect place to plant native plants to attract birds and butterflies.

• When planning your landscape, look for shrubs with exceptional branching habits, fruit, or evergreen winter colors. Plan for a year-round effect and choose plants that bloom at different times. Choose evergreens and shrubs with berries for winter and wildlife and shrubs and trees with beautiful fall colors.

• Select plants that grow well in our area. Depend on native Oklahoma plants and proven Oklahoma plants as the trusted backbone of your garden.

• Consider the color palette, but don’t overemphasize it. Nature seems to blend most colors into a pleasing palette. The only colors that really bother me together are Taxi-cab yellow and Halloween pumpkin orange mixed with Pepto-Bismol pink; however, if that is what I inherited in my landscape, I would add lots of white flowers and silver foliage and call it a Picasso garden. Then I would gradually play musical plants and move things to other places until I had the garden of my dreams.

• Simplicity is the key to good design. Cluttered plantings or shrubs scattered around the lawn without being part of a bed or border look messy and make mowing a time-consuming nightmare.

• Keep everything covered with natural bark mulch. Not only does mulch make you work less, it also makes plantings more attractive, keeps weeds away, keeps the soil cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, retains moisture and improves the soil as it goes. let it break down. Don’t use ugly, fake, dyed mulch that might come from diseased trees or arsenic-treated crushed pallets.

The most important thing is to have something you enjoy that works for your family and your location.

• Try a small vegetable garden tucked away in a sunny corner or plant a few tomato and pepper plants with your flowers. Put the herbs in containers near the kitchen door to use in cooking or making tea.

• Set up a bird feeder in the garden and keep it filled with black sunflower seeds to attract many different birds. Hang a few hummingbird nectar feeders on different sides of the house and set up a shallow birdbath with a pump to circulate water to attract birds to a place where you can observe from inside like from the outside.

• Set up a small sitting area under a shade tree so you can enjoy the beautiful view you have created and from where you can observe the butterflies, birds and other beneficial creatures that will inhabit your yard. Happy gardening!

Terri S. Tomasini