Dream Of Spring

Warming weather could fool you

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The Weather Channel Web site is predicting highs around the mid- to high 50s for the rest of the month. So spring fever is probably going to be sweeping over a good percentage of the population.

That’s fine, but be careful, don’t get fooled by the Rim Country’s False Spring.

Still, it doesn’t hurt to start dreaming of spring and making plans for that vegetable garden and flowerbeds.

Expert design tips to get landscape in shape

The chill of winter winds might have you wishing for the first buds of spring, but garden lovers don’t need to let the cold season get them down. In fact, this can be the ideal time to start planning your landscape for spring and summer. Leaving the work until the last minute, when plants are starting to push up through the ground, will only delay your enjoyment. So harness your excitement for spring and prepare a plan with some expert help.

Tackling a landscaping plan can be overwhelming, so it’s a good idea to consult a professional landscape designer who knows the ins and outs of when, where and how to plant and how to install hardscapes. By starting in the winter designers will be more readily available to help you refine your plans, and you’ll be ready to get a head start as soon as the weather breaks.

“There are so many details involved in creating the landscape of one’s dreams that it’s easy to become confused,” says Bobbie Schwartz, president of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD). “A landscape designer will be experienced in taking on the multiple unique challenges that every property poses. In the long run, hiring a professional, who will get it done right the first time, can save money. That professional will keep you from making expensive mistakes.”

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Using containers to plant against walls, gardeners can have climbing vines, flowers and vegetables growing vertically.

Here are some tips from professional landscape designers that will inspire you to get started with your plans right now:

• Consider the view. Is there a certain room from which you tend to spend more time looking out at your landscape? If so, take the time to really examine what you’re seeing. Take note — literally — of anything that catches your eye, good or bad. Follow the sightlines, and notice where they take your eyes. This will give you a better defined idea of what you want to accentuate, what you want to hide, and what could be adjusted through simple changes like pruning or minor transplanting.

• Collect inspiration. Flipping through magazines with colorful photos of beautiful gardens is always fun, but it can also be practical. Pull out pages that feature ideas or plants that you’d like to incorporate into your landscape design. Be sure to look at smaller photos, which often have a hard time standing up to full-page images, as they can be just as rich with ideas. Creating a file of images that inspire and excite you is a good idea, and it can be a great way to connect with your landscape designer when you meet.

• Think curb appeal. Having a beautiful backyard retreat is often the goal of a landscaping project, but the view that guests and passersby have is just as important. A well-designed landscape can emphasize your home’s beauty and diminish any potential eyesores, making it more appealing to you, your neighbors and any potential buyers. According to the Journal of Environmental Horticulture, it’s been shown that well-designed landscapes can increase home sale prices up to 10.8 percent, compared to homes with simply average landscapes.

Thinking about spring is easy in the middle of winter. Instead of just daydreaming about spending warmer days in a beautiful garden, start planning to make that dream a reality. Get in touch with a landscape designer who can help you by going to www.apld.org and clicking on Find a Designer. If you and your designer have a plan in place ahead of time, you’ll be able to spend less time working on the project in the spring and more time enjoying it.

Gardening with a purpose

As you plan those garden spots, consider getting on board with the trend of gardening with a purpose

The purpose may be to grow your own food or create sanctuaries, but planting for a greener good is changing neighborhoods and communities — one garden at a time.

According to the Association of Professional Landscape Designers, homeowners are growing more of their own food — more herbs, vegetables and fruit trees — both in dedicated vegetable gardens and mixed in the garden among flowers and shrubs.

But it’s not just food production that’s driving today’s gardener. As backyard conservationists, gardeners are transforming yards, gardens, rooftops and even urban alleys into green and productive spaces.

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Blended containers in front yards with herbs and vegetables provide a one-two combo that can’t be beat for freshness and convenience.

Here’s a glimpse of what Susan McCoy, garden trend spotter, sees for 2011:

• Gardening with a purpose — Nine out of 10 households want to manage their lawns and gardens in an environmentally friendly way, according to the National Gardening Association.

“Gardens continue to reflect awareness of how our landscapes enhance and improve the environment around us,” Patricia St. John, president of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers, says of this trend.

Since healthy plants start with healthy soil, people are looking for sustainable and organic soils.

• Eco-scaping — The move to de-lawn large tracks of turf and transform lawns into sustainable landscapes is achievable with the right plants that use less water and pesticides.

• Sustainable containers — For small space gardens, growing food in containers makes sense. Blended containers with herbs and veggies provide a one-two combo for freshness and convenience. And, containers blooming with natives, re-bloomers and ornamental grasses beautify spaces and benefit the environment.

• Succulents — Dry gardening using less water is bubbling across the nation. Attractive and low-maintenance succulents have showy flowers and thick, fleshy foliage that stores water like a camel’s hump.

Drought-tolerant and able to thrive in a variety of conditions, succulents look great in small gardens and large landscapes.

• Growing up with vertical gardening — “Vertical gardens are becoming increasingly popular and will grow far beyond anything we can envision,” says Joe Zazzera, with Plant Solutions, Inc. and Green Plants for Green Buildings (GPGB.org).

From containers with climbing vines, flowers and veggies to vertical walls blooming with edibles, plants are growing up.

For a complete look at the Garden Media Group 2011 Garden Trends visit: www.gardenmediagroup.com.

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