Maybe we’ve just relocated to a home with a neglected yard choked with weeds and other troublemaking plants. Or we might have grown tired of the monotonous grass covering our whole outdoor environment. Maybe we intend to sell our house and realize that beautifying its yard would significantly spike up its value. There are a multitude of reasons for choosing to undertake landscape projects. This is a time to scrap the old and ring in the new.
At the initial planning stage, however, the vast number of options available to us can make the decision-making process feel overwhelming. There are so many varieties of trees, bushes, flowers and plants to choose from – and nearly infinite combinations that can be made with them. One of the best ways to simplify the job and pare it down to a manageable size is to first settle upon a theme for our landscape. This simply means that all the elements we choose should not only complement each other but also make a common visual statement when viewed all together.
Again, there will be a number of landscape styles from which to choose for our overarching themes. But we’ll reap a couple of distinct advantages if we go along with nature’s own designs and templates for the areas in which we live.
Choosing, for our gardens, hedges and borders, plants that are native to our surrounding environment automatically creates a look that blends well with the architectural style of our own home and the others around it. Maples, for example, would look jarringly out of place in front of an adobe house. Desert plants such as cacti, mesquite trees and succulents complement such a Southwestern-style dwelling much better. A New England Colonial home, on the other hand, would lie in stark contrast to a dry garden of gray lavender; but it would appear right at home lying in the shade of maples and in the company of Northeastern native wildflowers.
The other benefit of natural gardens is a practical matter: it is simply much easier to maintain plants that already exist around the area in which we live. The aforementioned types of desert vegetation, for example, are already adapted to places that experience little rainfall. Some have thick, leathery leaves that resist the glaring sun. Many have pale or grayish colors that reflect the heat. Cactus stems are designed to hoard hard-to-find moisture over long stretches of time.
A garden in Arizona or New Mexico that utilized such flora, therefore, would require less watering, fertilizing and maintaining than any other kind of landscape. Here we would simply be taking advantage of what the regional soil conditions and weather patterns already provide. We create ease for ourselves when we live in accord with nature and plan our landscapes using native vegetation.