By Kimberly Toscano
There are many benefits to purchasing a newly constructed home, but a thriving landscape is not one of them. Not to worry, with a little planning and thoughtful planting, you can add structure and vitality to bolster young gardens as they grow. Starting from scratch? We like to think of that as a blank slate. Read on.
1. Anchor the Facade
Whether your new home boasts a builder’s landscape or bare soil, begin by installing or augmenting foundation plantings. These are the beds lining the front of the house. Foundation plantings anchor the home into the surrounding landscape. Besides, that shining new façade deserves dressing up.
Begin with bed lines. Make sure beds are wide enough to accommodate mature, layered plantings. In this example, the narrow beds are appropriately sized and shaped to match the long lines of the porch and the small front yard. But larger homes call for wider beds. You want enough room to install plantings that visually balance the mass of the home.
2. Transitional Planting
Trees and shrubs take time to reach their full potential, but there are several ways to reinforce young beds. Plant in layers to add color and height. A carpet of Evercolor® ‘Everillo’ Carex or Red EnduraScape™ Verbena beneath young trees and shrubs adds vibrant color and lush texture. Try tucking low-growing dwarf Encore® Azaleas such as Autumn Fire™ among existing shrubs for season-long blooms.
And add height with quick-growing grasses like Platinum Beauty™ Lomandra. The columnar forms of ‘Orange Rocket’ Barberry and ‘Scarlet’s Peak’ Holly provide a striking vertical element in tight spaces.
It is perfectly acceptable to consider some plants as temporary. Perennials can be easily edited out of the garden in a few years as shrubs grow into their own. Annual flowers like Stars & Stripes™ Pentas offer an inexpensive interlude as gardens mature.
3. Make an Entrance
The small, well-defined space around the mailbox provides the perfect opportunity to welcome visitors. Who wants to mow this tiny turf strip anyway? Keep plants low here to avoid blocking views to the house and remember to plan for winter color. Ever Amethyst™ Agapanthus and Evergreen Stella™ Daylily add a riot of color all season and continue to shine with bright green foliage through the winter months.
4. Layer the Edges
Create a smooth transition from surrounding woodlands or establish a visual wall around wide-open properties with a mixed shrub border. Place taller evergreen shrubs like LeAnn™ Cleyera and Red Diamond™ Midsize Loropetalum toward the back to provide a sturdy backdrop.
Add pops of color and seasonal accents along the length of the planting. Miss Lemon™ Abelia brings lasting color to the mixed border while October Magic® Ruby™ Camellia provides dramatic seasonal interest. Flowering shrubs and perennials make excellent additions to the mixed border. Ultra Violet™ Buddleia and ‘Amistad’ Salvia beckon butterflies to the garden all season long.
5. Container Magic
Porches offer a prime opportunity to dress up the landscape and add additional layers to the young garden. Looking for some extra height? Anchor the corner of your covered porch with a container of ‘Angyo Star’ Fatshedera or add color in sunny spaces with Early Bird™ Purple Crapemyrtle.
Encore® Azaleas are also stunning in containers. Bring vibrant blooms to the porch with Autumn Lilac™ or carry the formal look up to the door with the pure white Autumn Angel™. Make a statement by repeating container plantings along the length of a porch or up a stairwell. Echo the colors found throughout the entryway garden and try repeating some of the same plant material in your container plantings.