Add Spice and Charm

Scroll this page for Inspiration and ideas to transform your garden with Ornamental plantings.

As we shape and change our landscape, it becomes the natural reflection of how we perceive our nature. It becomes an expression which can transition with it's growth into a statement. It can become a thing of pride or a sentimental attachment. You can add a Koi pond, where of course the fish have names. A single, favorite tree with a strong foliage color, a straight line of proud and stately shade trees, a delicate row of dwarf flowering trees or a grouping of large shrubs growing into each other. The possibilities will sadly be limited by your available space, your sun exposure, soil type, moisture levels, soil Ph, nutritional content of the soil and of course which ever overall climate you find yourself in. You may have to fight the elements, prevent plant disease, suffer through a drought, deter pests and limit access to critters. Your own much loved pets may even bring havoc and mayhem to the garden. Pretty fences and barriers help, you can design the critters right into their own space, where it may even be encouraged for them to have their fun. After cultivation comes protection and maintenance, some plant varieties are much more tolerant and easy compared to others.

Our preference for planting tends to fall into the "Hardy" category. If it can't handle 3 days without water in reasonable temperatures, it's not going to last long with us. I love Hostas for example, as they are self replicating, great filler for shady spots, come in a wide array of foliage colors that can be mixed, tolerant in their need of care. Their downside is their complete disappearance in winter and the fact that they're straight deer food. In garden design they make an excellent canvas to bounce brighter plants off of, such as Dahlias (annual in zone 6.)

Look for year round texture in Evergreens, place them alone, in a row, or groups of 3. Not all evergreens have needles, you can also use Boxwoods, Azalea (some varieties are deciduous), Rhododendrons or Holly. Learn your soil type and their needs if you want them to be long lasting and healthy.

Be prepared to put some work into it, or hire someone to do the hard bits. Garden neglect isn't a pretty thing, each planting will have varying needs of care from how often it needs moisture to the pruning schedule. Fertilizing for maximum blooms, ensuring healthy roots for winter survival of perennials. You may be doing these chores just twice a year, tending monthly or potentially weekly. The more you plant, the less you mow. The transitions between garden bed and lawn will determine the string trimmer usage. You can incorporate a mow edge that never needs trimmed separately.

Your selections for the garden will determine how much time you'll need to dedicate to it. The design will be as simple or as complicated as you make it. Some plants can be quite high maintenance due to an invasive growth habit, specific moisture needs, nutrient needs outside of what the soil naturally has or from just being too "foreign" for the environment you're trying to grow it in. Take stock in your surrounding environment and desired commitment level to narrow down your planting choices. Decide if you want your plantings to be food or decoration, or both?

Use containers for annuals, spread them around to add little pops of color. Use them for Mint, to control it's invasive style of growth. For Herbs, to keep them close to the kitchen or even in the kitchen by a bright window. Add a statue or fountain between two containers. Stick a cute sign into a container with a lot of growth spilling out of it.

Plant for the birds or to collect your own seeds. Bring the bees and encourage the lady bugs. Create habitat while creating your private oasis. Add a hammock, collect gardening books. Lay there in the dabbled shade of a large tree and envision your secret garden.


Container gardening requires less work, less bending, less water and increases the location potential for plants. You won't be digging a hole into the concrete patio to plant something. Simply place a container, to add height and focal interest. Set a flat stone in a mulched area and place a container there. At the corner of the house. Between the garage doors. By the front entrance. Use varieties that will do well in the sun exposure the container will get, who share the same soil needs. Lobelia, Sweet Potato Vine, Dahlia and Calibrachoa used  on the left here.