We’ve all looked at magazines and books filled with photos of outdoor gathering spaces. We love vibrant flowers, lush trees and shrubs, and have dreamed of “just like that” gardens. Some of us can achieve this look, some of us “try” and some of us just close the blinds and think about moving to a new place that already has that dream yard in place.
Take a deep breath and step out into the area you would like to see changed. Take notes when surveying the area. Consider how you want to use the area. This is an important first step. Is this the outside dining area? How about that cozy space for quiet conversations or maybe meditation? Or will it be the place where family and friends enjoy barbecues and have fun? Maybe you need a playground for playing football or catching. Take your time for this step. Involve the family to share ideas. Be sure to note sun exposure, existing buildings or trees that may shade the area, and note where your water sources are. You will need this information for plant selection, placement and irrigation.
Do you want lots of plant life or a minimal, low-maintenance environment? Remember that our current water availability is greatly reduced; choosing water-efficient plants will help save water while providing the look you desire. Consider including edibles in your plant choices. Fruit trees and citrus trees have beautiful flowers that will perfume the area, and they also provide food to eat. Visit nurseries often throughout the year to observe how plants change with the seasons. Look for nurseries that actually have the plant in their landscaping to help you decide if that particular plant will work in your landscape. Talk to nursery staff and note the size of the mature plant. Check the availability of a dwarf variety if the standard size at maturity will be too large for the space.