January is a great time to do a little landscape planning for the spring. February can be very up and down temperature-wise in Western North Carolina, so it’s great to be ready to take advantage of warm spells when they come to get a head start on prepping. Here are 9 tips for designing new perennial beds or fine-tuning your existing borders.
- Start with edging to define beds. Edging is extra work and can add up expense-wise, but it makes your beds look much tidier. If it is bordering your lawn, edging makes weed whacking much neater as well. We like the concrete block edging that comes in various colors at the big box stores, or steel edging. Stay away from the plastic rolls, they are a pita to install.
- Mulch before planting. This is particularly helpful if you are planting a lot of small items like groundcovers. It’s also a chore you can get done at any time, so why not go for it when there isn’t much else going on?
- Start your planting with large plants and work your way down. Start with trees, if any, then shrubs, and finally perennial flowers and/or groundcovers.
- Evergreens also come first, they will be the foundation of your landscape and the most low-maintenance choices. Look to the Arborvitae family if you are in the Asheville area, they take the climate very well and come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.
- If it feels overwhelming, consider going with only shrubs to get started. A fine perennial border can be made with simply hydrangea and Arborvitae. Sit on it for a season and add later as they start to fill in.
- Add a specimen tree or two. If you can afford it, a fancy Japanese maple or spruce tree can class things up a notch.
- Plant small annuals or perennials in swaths or drifts. Bulb growers recommend grabbing a handful and tossing them on the ground, planting where they land. That way it looks like how they would fall in nature. Most flowers look great as an irregularly shaped mass. Just try not to get too tempted to mix it up, keeping the same color has more impact.
- Similar to #7 above, try to plant in groups or lines of the same plant, using odd numbers if possible. Resist the urge to alternate plants. There is nothing like a giant row of blooms of the same color.
- Finally, remember that flowers are more maintenance than evergreens. They are wonderful, but if you are busy busy and don’t want to add more work to your plate, you can have a fantastic garden with very few flowering plants. It’s a zen thing!
If you are staring at a blank slate this spring, or just overwhelmed with the choices, we hope this helps a little. Check the area throughout the day to double-check how much sun it gets(remember it can change seasonally.) Start with evergreens and shrubs, creating rows or groups going off the lines of hardscaping in place. When in doubt, if you are in the Asheville area there is almost always a hydrangea or Arborvitae that will do the trick.