If your home is looking a bit drab coming out of winter, one way you could boost its curb appeal is with some simple landscaping. Perhaps you’ve shied away from landscaping in the past because you are overwhelmed walking into a greenhouse and don’t know what your not-so-green thumb can manage or where to place anything. However, with the right strategy, preparation, and plants, it is doable for anyone.
The Impact of Landscaping
Unlike a costly home residing, landscaping is a relatively low-cost and easy way to give your house a huge facelift. How? First, a groomed yard shows that the house is well-maintained. Beyond that, though, well-placed plants and shrubs can hide the ugly (for example, an AC unit) and draw the eye to the more attractive features of the house. Landscaping, with its ability to physically guide you to the door and guide your eye to the door, makes your home feel welcoming.
Guiding Principles for Landscaping
- Keep it simple. Effective landscaping can be done with as few as three plant types. Even if you want to incorporate more into your garden, try to choose flowering plants within a simple color palette.
- Create balance and symmetry.. If your door is in the center of your house’s facade, this is very simple. Whatever you plant to the left of the door, plant to the right as well. Once again, having a simple color palette also helps to establish balance.
- Consider the sequencing and scaling of plants. The easiest way to draw the eye to a focal spot is to tier the plants up to it. That means that in front, you will have short ground cover, with a taller middle layer, with the tallest shrubbery sitting at the base of the house. Sequencing and tiering doesn’t have to be just linear; you can use these same principals to draw the eye to a corner.
Make It Low-Maintenance
In order to make your landscaping low-maintenance over the long run, you’ll want to do a little more work up front. Consider and plan for plant growth when selecting and placing plants. This will ensure your shrubs don’t overgrow, which will minimize your need to prune and shape them. Taking the time to put in a good layer of mulch will help reduce your watering time, as mulch helps prevent water evaporation and therefore maintains moisture for longer. Most importantly, select plants that are easy to grow! The following perennials are great options that are hardy through Minnesota winters (double-check the hardiness zones if you’re north of the Twin Cities), relatively disease-resistant, animal-resistant, and require little to no pruning:
- Alpine currant – From full sun to shade, this plant is very cold hardy, disease resistant, and wind-resistant, with glossy green leaves that always look lush. Because it grows slowly, it makes a great hedge plant requiring very little shearing. Grows to 3-5’ tall and 5-6’ wide.
- Chokeberry – From white blossoms in the spring to red edible berries in the summer to brilliant fall foliage, these bushes provide constant interest. While they can survive in full sun to part shade, the sun is best for flowering. Grows 5’ tall and 3-5’ wide.
- Coneflowers – Deer resistant and bee, bird, and butterfly friendly, these are lovely accent plants to place in sunny spots. Grow to 4’ tall and wide.
- Daylily – Nearly impossible to kill with large, vibrant flowers, these do best in full to partial sun. Choose a variety which reblooms so you can enjoy the flowers for longer than the typical period, such as “Happy Returns,” “Pardon Me,” or “Stella de Oro.” Grow 1.5-2’ tall and 1-2’ wide.
- Honeysuckle bush – Disease and pest-resistant, these bushes attract bees, birds, and butterflies with their yellow spring blooms. They will grow almost anywhere and are tolerant to full sun as much as to full shade. The “Dwarf” and “Butterfly” varieties typically grow about 4’ tall and wide, while the University of Minnesota “Honeyrose” grows larger (10’ tall and 8-10’ wide); this variety has red blooms that come to life mid-summer.
- Hostas – These ultra-tough perennials grow great in the shade, and come in a variety of colors and sizes (from 6” to 6’!), making them adaptable for any space.
- Potentilla or cinquefoil – Coming in a wide variety of colors, this is a popular pick for ground cover because of how easy it is to grow and how lovely its blooms are. Best in full sun, they are mounding shrubs which grow to 3’ tall and wide.
- Sedum – These serve as great ground cover for dry, sunny spots and are weed-resistant. They are typically the first to grow leaves in the spring, and have long-lasting spring and summer blooms. Grow up to 8” and spread 4-10” depending on variety.