Beyond Grass – Creating A Backyard Garden Oasis

Take a pass on only thinking grass.

By Kevin Fritz

 

The straight and narrow may be just fine for some elements of your life, but when it comes to creating a backyard garden oasis, that’s just too ho-hum. Think of your yard as a blank canvas, one that hungers for you to color outside the lines.

 

Visualize your yard as a seamless flowing space that yearns for free-form design. Think about the gardens and yards that catch your eye. They are no doubt ones that appear to flow effortlessly, without offering a hint of all the planning and work that goes into the triumphs associated with any work of art. 

 

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Prepare to be Wowed

Find a base. The back of the house, a patio, a fence, or anything that serves as a boundary point. Do you have a window that looks out from the kitchen into your backyard? That’s an ideal space to transform into a little garden oasis. 

 

If possible, choose an area of your yard in which grass has a hard time becoming established. You know, it’s that spot you tend to year after year, but it still represents the weakest link of your backyard carpet. This will make preparing the ground a bit easier.

 

The goal is to work outward from your base and incorporate arcs and bends as the remainder of the garden’s boundaries. Outline the garden with bricks or pavers, offsetting the lawn from your new space. Bricks offer a soothing, natural feel.

 

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For an English country look, try stone. Choose a blanket for your new garden. Some people love the look of pine bark chips. Others prefer lava rocks because they won’t float away during heavy rains. Or incorporate a natural ground cover into the mix.

 

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Plot out your garden on paper, mapping out the location for the things you believe would produce your own personal oasis—bushes, plants, ornamental decorations, or a birdbath. Visualize what you would like to plant. Everyone has favorite flora and fauna. Just be sure what you land on will prosper in your particular growing zone.

 

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Keep in mind that taller shrubs should be planted at the base of the garden, working outward with more diminutive plants and bushes. Be cautious about planting small trees. Your garden must be big enough to accommodate their root systems.  

 

Ground Cover Gardens

Not all gardens need to be multi-dimensional to be wonderful, natural works of art.  Ground covers, from variegated jasmine to perennial peanut to Mondo grass, create simple and colorful spaces in any backyard setting. Natural slate stepping stones, not the pre-fabricated types, help the eye move through the natural flowing area, free of rigid angles and rich in serenity.

 

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Ground covers are especially suitable if pets or kids are present as they can withstand being walked upon over and over again. Plus, most are hearty and drought resistant, meaning very little labor is required once you plant them in the ground.

 

Alternative Space

It’s your backyard, so make it your own. Take what is a hindrance and create beauty. Perhaps you have a tree stump in the yard. Place a pot large enough to cover the circumference of the stump and fill it with wildflowers. Surround the start-up garden with Mondo grass or liriope—and viola! 

 

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Here’s a great tip: Before planting any garden area, a layer of ground cover sheeting onto the prepared soil will go a long way toward weed prevention, freeing your time up for other important tasks, like relaxing with a cold drink in your new backyard oasis.

 

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Images used with permission, courtesy of Kevin Fritz

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