Recently, I hosted two long-time friends from Oklahoma City, both of whom are avid gardeners. One, John Fluitt, is a landscape architect with an impressive client list. The other, Terry Zinn, travels the world and loves to visit gardens.
John designed the garden plan for my home in 2012 and I remember his first visit to my garden. He stood in the middle of the barren yard and just said, “Oh My! Oh My!” I could tell he knew this was going to be a tough job to transform a barren yard into to showplace.
The design plan he created covered the back lawn and two side gardens and he knew it would take several seasons to mature. We followed the plan precisely. I wasn’t a Master Gardener then and my garden knowledge begged to be improved. What I’ve learned since then is based on some serious questions you have to ask yourself before planning how to create a garden when the future for a lawn may look bleak.
Here are some tips from John and Jeff Bredenberg, author of “How To Cheat at Gardening and Yard Work.”
• Does the yard have adequate sunshine and easy access to water?
• What do I expect from my garden plants?
• What are the physical limitations of my yard?
• Do you want to add color to the yard?
• Do you want to screen parts of the yard for privacy?
• Where do you want to have paths and walkways?
• Do you want a formal or informal garden?
Another wise suggestion is decide if you want a curved, kidney shape or freeform for an informal look. Also decide if you want rows or raised beds for veggies and herbs, clumps or drifts for perennials, hedges for privacy screening, or marking property boundaries, trees for shade or ornamental value, groups of shrubs. Finally decide which plants go where.
As John stood in the barren garden a decade ago, he did note the fences along the back and sides of the yard were great property markers. He also was impressed by the mature trees behind the back fence. On his recent visit, he no longer had to lament the once barren lawn. He was pleased his design plan was a success.
Micki J. Shelton is a Muskogee native and master gardener.