Quick Steps to Landscaping Success

I’ve been helping Texans with their landscapes for more than 50 years. Here are some suggestions I’ve collected over that time.

Your house is the “picture.” Your landscape is its “frame.” Don’t let it overwhelm. Keep it simple. Use standard growth forms and deep green colors. The farther you depart from the standard by using highly sculpted or brightly variegated plants, the more dramatic the impact (and the risk) will be.

A great landscape is simple and tasteful. It functions and it beautifies. This home’s owner (Scott Keller, McKinney) certainly proved it. Click image for larger view.

Simplicity is always acceptable. Some of the finest garden design is noted for its uncluttered simplicity. You can always add things later, but you never have to apologize for keeping to the basics.

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Keep to a natural look, as if your house just appeared in a lovely meadow. Nature rarely plants in straight rows. Use curves and sweeps, clusters and groupings. Odd numbers are more restful visually than even numbers of plants.

Choose plants that are adapted to your soils and climate. It’s hard to change those things, so stay away from plants that aren’t going to be happy with what you have to provide. If you’re unsure, ask for help of a Texas Certified Nursery Professional at a local independent retail garden center that’s a member of the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association.

Buy plants whose mature sizes will fit the spaces you have available for them. Don’t plan on pruning to keep them in bounds. It breaks my heart to get a call that begins, “Neil, how far back can I prune my __?”

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Buy larger shrubs (10- and 15-gallon) for a more immediate impact. You won’t be as tempted to crowd them together as you would be with smaller 2- and 5-gallon plants. The result will be a better-looking landscape in the long run.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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