Happy March! Here in central NC as I write this, we’re expecting a high of 79 degrees, and it feels like Spring has sprung upon us! Yes, it’ll be back down in the 50’s by tomorrow, but any little glimpse of Spring brings us joy around here! Not only are the warmer temps so refreshing after a chilly winter, but those first pops of color emerging from sleepy trees, shrubs, and bulbs bring the promise of a fresh start and the beauty that comes with it. It’s the perfect inspiration to plan out your spring landscaping project!
Your outdoor space should be an extension of your indoor living and entertaining areas. It should feel welcoming: a place for relaxing, entertaining, and enjoying time with family and friends. Envision your own personal oasis, your escape from the daily grind. If this isn’t your current reality, read on for our best tips for landscaping success!
It’s a great idea to do a little research before you head to your favorite local garden center. We recommend you:
- Measure your landscape beds.
- Determine how much sun vs shade each bed gets throughout the day.
- Pick your palate: decide what kind of landscape theme or color scheme you want.
- Mark off spacing in your landscape bed, or have a professional draw up a plan.
- Visit the garden center prepped with your research, and don’t hesitate to ask for help.
Measuring & Spacing
One of the most important first steps is to measure your landscape beds, so you know exactly how much space you have to work with. Many people make the mistake of overestimating how much room they have, and underestimating how big their plants will actually grow. We want the gratification of a gorgeous, fully grown landscape bed, NOW! Over planting will lead to a jungle-like appearance down the road. This not only creates a maintenance nightmare, but it affects the health of each plant, as they are all competing for the same resources - sunlight, water, and nutrients. Your beds may feel sparse at first, but plants WILL grow, and within a few years, fill in the space.
Sun vs Shade
Determine the point of true North on your property, and from there you will know exactly where the sun rises (East) and sets (West). Pay attention to how much sun your landscape bed gets throughout the day. Some plants will perform best in full sun, whereas some prefer partial sun. There are plenty of shade tolerant plants as well. Plant accordingly, and your landscape is much more likely to reach full potential.
Pick Your Palate
Just as the inside of our homes are often decorated in style or color themes, this extends into our landscapes as well. For example, a xeriscape design would compliment a Southwest style home (and be practical if you live in a dry climate), while English gardens would look out of place in that same setting. A Victorian style home is well complemented by colorful flowering gardens. Modern style architecture looks great with a zen garden design. A traditional style home doesn’t have to have a simple “cookie cutter” landscape, there are so many ways to spice it up!
Color can be used to create a mood, or completely change the feel of a space. Bright colors will give you the biggest impact from a distance, and draw you in, something to keep in mind if you're going for "curb appeal." Cool colors create feelings of calm and relaxation, whereas warm colors create feelings of energy and excitement. Choose colors that compliment each other, using a color wheel for reference. In this case, opposites attract: green compliments red, blue compliments orange, and yellow compliments purple. Another option is to use 3 colors that are located together on the color wheel, such as red, orange, and yellow, or blue, purple, and red. A monochromatic color scheme is another popular option: pick one favorite color, and flood those beds with it!
A well rounded landscape should provide interest during all seasons. Include evergreens to offer color in the dead of winter, plus a variety of different plants, shrubs, trees, and flowers to fill your landscape with color and interest in the Spring, Summer, and Fall. You don’t want a landscape bed that looks amazing for only 3 months out of the year!
Create a Visual Plan
Once you have a better idea of what you want in your landscape, physically mark off where you plan to put each shrub, tree, perennial, and annual. It sounds tedious, but trust us on this one! Visualization of proper spacing will help ensure you won’t overplant. If a shrub’s tag says it will reach 3’x3’ at maturity, go ahead and assume it could reach 4’x4’, and plan accordingly. This will prevent a lot of maintenance headaches down the road, and it’s easy to fill in empty space with annuals in the meantime. Plant your foundation shrubs and trees at least 3-4 feet from your home to ensure they have plenty of room to grow and fill in naturally. Planting too close will impact the health of your plant, as well as possibly cause foundation issues down the road, and could even invite bugs into your home. Be mindful of placement around sidewalks and landscape lighting, to avoid obstruction. Choose slower growing, small shrubs to go in front of windows and around gutters, so you’re not constantly pruning or losing your view.
If design isn’t your forte, there’s no shame in hiring a landscape designer to draw up a plan. A landscape designer (or landscape architect) will come to your home, listen to your ideas, offer their own vision, and draw a plan to scale. They will usually provide a list of plants needed to complete the design, which you can hand right over to your local nursery or garden center. Keep in mind that Spring is a super busy time for everyone in the landscape industry, so it’s best to reach out as soon as possible to get the ball rolling before they get booked up. Likewise, if landscape installs aren’t your idea of fun, there are tons of local landscape companies that would be glad to help you out.
Finally, It’s Time to Visit that Favorite Local Garden Center
We will always recommend visiting a local Independent Garden Center, because we’re big fans of supporting small local businesses. But additionally, the garden center staff will know your specific area, what planting zone you’re in, what the predominant soil conditions are, and what plants will thrive. Armed with your measurements, the staff can confirm if your selections are right for your specific beds. They can offer suggestions for alternatives, and guide you through what soil amendments you may need. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, these are plant people and they would love the opportunity to advise you! Before you check out, be sure to ask for Vole King wire mesh baskets to protect your investment! Vole King works as “plant insurance” to protect the root ball of your plants, trees, and shrubs from hungry burrowing rodents.
If your favorite garden center doesn’t carry Vole King yet, you can find everything you need at voleking.com, as well as video tutorials on how to use our products. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram (vole__king), and YouTube for more helpful tips and discounts! We would love to know what you’re planting this Spring!