A nice yard provides more than just resale value and curb appeal; it’s somewhere to relax after a hard day at work or on a sunny weekend. A yard is a place for backyard cookouts, tossing a Frisbee with the kids, or playing fetch with the dog.
We want a place we can gaze at from our kitchen window and watch the sunrise or the snowfall while we enjoy a cup of coffee. But what most of us don’t want is a place that’s going to suck up all our free time on weekends with mowing, watering, pruning, and general maintenance. Keeping a beautiful yard is hard work, but when you partner with professionals, you don’t have to do it all.
Best-Laid Design Plans
Lovely landscaping doesn’t design itself or happen by a stroke of good luck. When you make the mistake of viewing different sections of your property as separate entities and cobbling your landscaping together over time in a piecemeal manner – rather than viewing the whole project as a cohesive whole – the result can not only look disjointed, but it can be a maintenance nightmare.
Whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer or don’t know a rake from a backhoe, you’ll save yourself a lot of frustration by consulting a professional landscape designer like Scenic Specialties before beginning your project. Mention that you’re interested in landscaping that is unique and harmonious, and a designer will put together a landscaping design for you that incorporates all the elements that are most important to you.
Any professional landscape designer will tell you that using high-quality hardscape and softscape materials is essential for the future maintenance of your landscaping. Not only will the right materials keep you from having to frequently make replacements or repairs, but they’ll also better do the job for which they were intended.
Following are some of the elements that you should consider in regards to your landscape’s future upkeep:
Weed Barrier Blankets
A good, durable weed barrier blanket is worth its substantial weight in gold and should be part of every landscaping design. Used under rock beds or around planting areas, the blanket keeps weeds below the barrier from germinating, and it prevents weed spores that land on top of the barrier from becoming deeply rooted.
Native Plants and Grasses
The best professional landscape designers work with plants and grasses that are native to the state. Their choices must thrive in Minnesota’s short growing season, survive harsh winters, and will cut down on the time spent on watering and pruning.
Not only does mulch look attractive in garden beds, but it acts as a natural weed barrier and holds in moisture, therefore reducing the need for watering. Mulch also slowly decomposes, releasing nutrients into the soil.
Accent boulders, gravel, crushed stone, or rock creek beds are all lovely, natural, xeriscape elements that require no water and won’t ever need to be replaced.
Drought Tolerant Perennials
Planting perennials keeps you from having to re-plant your beds every year. Planting drought-tolerant perennials, especially in areas that get full sun, will reduce the amount of care your landscaping needs.
The Right Plants
Minnesota’s climate can be hard on plant life. With long, harsh winters and a relatively short growing season, it’s important to choose environmentally hardy trees, grasses, and shrubs.
Here are some of the most appealing, climate-appropriate plants you and your professional landscaper may consider including in your landscaping design.
Boxwoods are very hardy and stay green all winter long. They’re slow-growing, and therefore don’t need frequent pruning. These plants can be easily shaped and make terrific short hedges or border plants.
Bur, pin, red, swamp, and white oak trees are highly recommended for Minnesota. They’re tolerant of a wide range of soil types and grow to between 30 and 80 feet.
Roses can require quite a bit of maintenance, but the Champlain variety is tough enough to survive Minnesota weather and blooms continuously throughout the summer and into fall. According to landscape architect Kent Gliadon, “Surprisingly these roses require very little maintenance, only needing to be cut back once in the fall or early spring while still in dormancy in order to keep a nice compact shape and encourage lots of blooming. No need to cover over winter!”
Karl Foresters – Feather Reed Grass
Karl foresters are an ornamental perennial grass that thrives in cooler climates. This medium-height grass species may be used in screening applications and makes for nice height variations within a landscape bed.
Black-Eyed Susans are a native perennial plant to Minnesota that adds a flush of color throughout the middle Summer months if placed in full sunshine. These hardy plants are a great addition to most landscapes.
Hydrangeas are a popular plant throughout Minnesota and the Midwest. Most hydrangea varieties are hardy in zone 3 and 4 climates and will add stunning color and interest to your landscape. Horticulturists continue breeding new varieties of Hydrangeas, adding new color and even better hardiness to this stunning plant.
Although a slower growing tree, Sugar Maples will provide excellent Summer shade and incredible Fall color. This native tree is hardy to the harsh Minnesota winters and will be a focal point in your yard for many years. Remember that trees with slower-growing habits tend to be stronger and healthier trees as they mature.
The Wrong Plants
Landscaping is difficult to maintain if the living elements continually die and must be replaced. High-maintenance plants that require frequent pruning and temperature monitoring are also not a good choice unless you enjoy puttering around in the yard for hours.
Following are some of the high-maintenance softscape elements that professional Minnesota landscape designers will tell you to avoid if you’re looking for low maintenance landscaping.
Any plant in a pot requires more attention than plants in the ground, as it has less access to nutrients and water.
Tender Summer Bulbs
Tender summer bulbs, such as dahlias and gladioli, need lifting and bringing indoors in the fall.
Trees with flowers that require frost protection, such as magnolias, must be covered with fabric when temperatures dip.
Tender perennials such as begonias, tropicals such as hibiscus, and subtropical plants like amaryllis need extra attention when frost is expected. These plants must be covered before expected night frost and the cover should be removed in the morning when the temperature climbs above freezing.
Start Designing Your Custom Landscape Today
The professional landscape designers at Scenic Specialties have been designing award-winning landscapes for 20 years. Much like a blueprint for a new home construction, a landscape design plays a vital role in assuring that all elements of the project, including maintenance once installation is complete, are executed properly. We can make your landscape beautiful and keep it that way, freeing you up to do the things you created your space to enjoy.
Our landscaping designers will meet with you on your property to determine the needs of the project. From there, we’ll begin creating your landscape design in our studio. Contact us today to set up a consultation for your low maintenance design.