Gardens are a beautiful addition to any backyard. They provide an oasis of tranquility and have health benefits for the gardner.
A backyard garden is a great hobby that gets you outside and into the sunlight and absorbing Vitamin D.
Gardens are sensory delights with all the different smells, colors, and textures of plants. It is especially beneficial for your children to be involved in the growing process.
If you are considering putting in a backyard garden, you might wonder where to start. A themed garden is a popular way to go.
One of the advantages of a themed garden is that the garden will have a focus that makes design principles easier to implement.
You can use a theme to reflect your interests, like bird watching or a favorite style like Japanese or even a water garden.
Perhaps you might even take a few ideas from several different themes and put them together to create an eclectic one-of-a-kind garden.
Here is a list of suggestions for themes in your backyard garden. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it might give you an idea that sparks your imagination.
Having a variety of flowers that can go a long way in sustaining themselves, wildflowers will do well in poor soil and water conditions.
A wildflower garden will not have the manicured look that a traditional flower garden does, but if a rustic, country look appeals to you, then this garden will suit you well.
In most areas, wildflowers are native plants, which makes them ideal for difficult to maintain parts of your yard.
If you plan where to position various flower varieties, you can create an area that is vibrant with brightness and color.
Violets, asters, bolumines, trilliums, ferns, and harebells are woodland wildflowers that do well in the shade.
If you have full sun areas, black-eyed Susans, zinnias, cornflowers, and candytuft will do well as long as there is also some shade in the afternoons.
If you start with seed packets, you can choose packs that are mixed or separate varieties. Once you have the flower bed ready, rake the seeds into the soil, trying to spread them evenly.
Water the seeds well, and don't let them dry out. This process will be much like growing grass seed.
Perennials may take a season before they bloom. If this garden is a new one, you could consider adding some annuals to the mix.
If you have chosen a large area, leave a path through the garden so that you can see the flowers from different angles, and work with them easily.
Butterflies are beautiful and delightful to see. They also help with plant pollination while being part of the color in a garden.
Planting a garden that attracts butterflies is as easy as cultivating the types of flowers that support butterfly needs.
Because a butterfly's mouth is shaped much like a tube, they drink only nectar and drink standing water.
During the caterpillar stage, they will need foliage to eat, and your garden can provide that too. By planting
If you have a shallow birdbath or another ornamental display that holds water, keep the necessary water available for these lovely insects to get a drink.
Having the needed foliage, nectar plants, and standing water, you are sure to attract butterflies to your garden.
When deciding where to put this garden, know that butterflies need sunny, open spaces. Planting shrubbery or ground cover will give these insects a place to hide from predators.
You can also put up a butterfly box in your garden as another means of refuge for the butterflies.
Here is a list of nectar-producing plants that these winged beauties are attracted to:
- Bee Balm
- Butterfly bush
- Sweet Pea
Native plants are the best for a butterfly garden, so check with your local nursery for those that will grow well in your area.
Once you have begun to plant your butterfly garden, make sure that it is free of insecticides and herbicides.
For those of us who might not have the greenest of thumbs, a rock garden makes for an attractive focal point that exudes a rugged, natural look.
A rock garden can evoke a mountainous type landscape. These types of garden work exceptionally well if you have a smaller space or a trouble area in your yard.
My rock garden came into being when I gave up trying to get grass to grow in an area at the back of my house.
I love my rock garden as it solves a problem and looks great at the same time. The rocks that you use in yours can be any shape or size.
It is helpful to start with some larger rocks, ones that you can manage, and create your basic outline.
For my rock garden, the foundation of the house presented one side, and I built out from there. Using various sizes and types of rocks add to the unique presentation.
Once you have your rocks placed as you prefer, you can add as few or as many plants as you would like.
I have found that hens and chicks love living in a bit of soil in the crevices between the rocks. The many types of sedum do equally as well.
Give these plants a year or two, and they will make a lovely green display among the rocks.
You could choose to have a decorative bush amid the rocks. Just make sure to plant it before placing the rocks around it.
Alpine plants are also a good choice as they, like the hens and chicks and sedum, require little soil and are hardy. Alpine plants tend to be small, but have blossoms.
Some Alpine plants to consider are:
- Bristlecone Pine
- Jacob’s ladder
- Bear Grass
- Spreading Phlox
- Alpine Asters
- Moss Champion
Spread the soil in the crevasse between the rocks and put the plants in those areas. Add a little or a lot. The landscape of the rock garden can be whatever you choose.
If you are fortunate enough to live in the southern states, you would be able to have great success with a tropical garden.
The exotic plants of the south can make for a colorful and varied garden that is lush and beautiful.
Plants in the south thrive in the heat and humidity. They have large, distinctive leaves, and the flowers are a bright contrast.
Tropical gardens are big and showy so that they can accent a yard or house with ease.
When laying out your garden, look for a spot that has full to partial sun. Tropical plants will also need a lot of water, so if possible, locate the garden near to your water source.
While it does rain often in the south, if a tropical garden gets too dry, it will die out, so you will need to supplement the water that the garden receives naturally.
Palms, cycad, bananas, ginger, fuchsia, and bromeliads are some of the tropical plants that will make for a beautiful full garden in the south.
Asian gardens have a nature theme that runs throughout their structure. If you follow the concept true to form, a Zen garden is made to showcase and work with the scenery that is already present.
Traditionally, a single path will run through the garden that allows you to reflect on the garden. There is often a seat along the path for sitting and contemplation.
The garden bed is crushed gravel or stone with large rocks placed throughout at random. The edging to the garden is a stone or wood ledge.
A rake is used to make patterns in the crushed stones, and that can be varied and changed as often as desired.
Statues are often present, most often good-luck animals such as turtles. Lanterns are placed among the rocks to light the garden in the evening.
There can be a variety of features in a Zen garden, such as a waterfall, small bridges, and levels that showcase various plants.
As with any garden that you might choose, remember that even if you strive to replicate a particular style, that it is your style that will bring your garden to life.
The beauty of this garden is that you will have produce right out your back door. It might not be thought of as a theme garden, but I would argue that the theme is organic goodness.
For ages, people have had a small plot of land to grow food. A kitchen garden can be a yard full of fruit trees, raised vegetable beds, or a few containers of tomatoes.
Yes, you can hop in your car and head off to the grocery store, but there is nothing like the taste of homegrown produce.
The best advice is to start small. Raised beds and container gardening are the way to go to start a kitchen garden. You don't want to dig up a huge patch of lawn and then have to spend your summer digging up weeds.
Choose the vegetable that you will use. I plan to grow tomatoes in containers as I have in years past.
They are quick and easy, produce the best tasting, fresh tomatoes ever, and require a minute or two of pulling weeds. Other than watering, there is nothing more to be done.
Your kitchen garden will need eight hours of full sun for the vegetables to grow well.
If you want to try a kitchen garden out on a trial basis, consider planting a herb garden. Herbs are small, they can be dried or used fresh to season your food and most herbs flower, so it will also be visually appealing.
Water your garden faithfully to help the plants mature and produce. There is nothing that tastes as good as that which you grow yourself.
Theme gardens allow you to start with a particular idea and put your stamp on it. Whatever you choose, just be sure to make a start.
You don’t have to make it a project that overwhelms you. Start small. The beauty of a garden is that you can make a plan for your entire garden, and then complete it in stages over several seasons.
A garden gets you out of doors and closer to nature. There is a feeling of renewal in digging in the earth and seeing the flowers and plants respond to your care.
Take advantage of the benefits of getting outside into the sun and creating your personal garden space.