Hello and happy Saturday Farmer John’s Family! In today’s blog, we’re diving into spring landscaping with a few tips from our Nursery Manager April! Below you’ll read more about…

  • What factors you should pay attention to in a site analysis prior to landscaping.
  • How to pinpoint your inspiration & what inspiration would work best for your space.
  • Artistic theories you can apply to your landscape design process.

April suggests that before you begin you conduct a site analysis. This is where you consider the soil, the sunlight, and the drainage of the area you want to landscape in.

Beginning with the soil, there are three factors you should test; the properties, a pH test, and an analysis of nutrient levels.

A soil property test is going to tell you exactly what your garden bed is made of! Possible ingredients include clay, silt, and sand; while a mix of all three is called loam by the professionals.

A pH test is important because all plants require a different balance of both acidity and alkalinity in the soil to be able to absorb the required nutrients properly. This can be done through a pH testing kit that can be purchased at Farmer John’s Greenhouse. If your bed isn’t the right pH level don’t worry! We have the fertilize and pH garden chemicals you need to have your landscape thrive. Last you should check the nutrients. We have kits available to register your soil’s nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash. Nitrogen is essential because that is what promotes leaf formation and beautiful green colors. Phosphorus is what helps your landscape grow and mature to a beautiful garden, plus it helps your plant become more resistant to frost and diseases. Last, potash is important for plant strength and growth. Plants deprived of potash have poor root systems and will appear dry or wilted.

This Luster Leaf brand rapid-test kit tests your soil’s pH and nutrients all in one. Available today at Farmer John’s Greenhouse!

Next, consider the sunlight that your yard receives and the direction it faces (north, south, east, west). The area can fall into one of three categories.

            Shady – Receives less than 4 hours of sun per day

            Part Sun – Receives 4-8 hours of sun per day

            Full Sun – Receives 8 or more hours of sun per day

The last step in a site analysis is to consider the drainage of the area you want to landscape. Do you have hills and slopes that lead to soggy areas? Are you near a creek or body of water that causes dampness in your lawn? These could possibly harm your plants by providing too much moisture or could ruin your hard work by washing away beautifully landscaped property. Last, inspect your selected landscape area for tree roots. While you may love the idea of landscaping directly near an established tree, this could lead to competition between your newly planted area and your trees.

After you’ve selected the proper area to begin landscaping, next it is time to hunt for inspiration! April’s first suggestion is to consider the architecture and overall aesthetic of your home. The best landscaping design highlights and compliments the home, instead of covering or overshadowing features. The aesthetic of your space is also important; while you may adore the idea of a minimalist Zen garden, this may not fully work with a traditional Tudor-style home. It is all about finding a balance of what compliments your space and brings you joy.

You can find inspiration from your surrounding neighborhoods as well! If you love the look of an area, consider taking a photo and bringing it into Farmer John’s Greenhouse. Rather than verbally describing how you want things to look, photos always communicate creative spaces in a more straightforward manner. Online resources such as Pinterest and Instagram can also be a big help in searching for a style that you want to incorporate into your space.

In creative theory, there are basic principles that can be incorporated into any medium; landscaping, drawing, pottery, etc. Below are the principals along with their application to landscape design.

  • Unity = By using the same or similar elements it visually unifies the space and creates a visual rhythm. While hard to describe, most people label it as “these things go together” and can be unified into one space.
  • Color = Green is a given in most landscape designs and can be considered your ‘neutral’. From there you need to decide if a warm (reds, oranges, yellows) or cool (blues, purples) color palette fits. While flowering annuals are gorgeous, keep a close eye on the overall foliage color since this will last the longest in your garden. Consider adding a ‘pop’ of color by using contrasting shades (cool & warm) and draw the eye throughout your landscape.

Using complimenting warm tones creates an inviting space

Lines = While creativity is key, consistency is also important in landscape design. Curvy lines (e.g., a winding pathway throughout the landscape) convey a sense of casualty in a space, while straight lines appear more formal. April suggests that any line curved created is subtle. Quick almost jagged curves lead to amoeba-shaped garden beds and can be visually unappealing.

The curved path and curved bed edge help create a casual almost whimsical space.

  • Texture = All plants have visual texture; whether fine, medium or course. Course or rough texture dominates a space and visually moves closer to us, making things appear as if they’re popping forward. Fine or thin, soft textures blend in more and complement other textures by receding visually. Most plants you purchase fall somewhere in-between, but it is good to keep in mind if you have an abundance of rough or fine texture in plants.
  • Balance = When discussing balance in landscape design, as well as other art forms, it refers to the visual weight seen across the entire ‘image’ or landscape. Typically there is a central focal point or axis that the balance falls around. Symmetrical balance means the two sides are mirror images of one another. Visually, this is seen as extremely formal and can be found in locations that feel regal and elaborate. Asymmetrical balance still equally distribute the visual weight of an area, but uses variations of items and is not a perfect mirror of each side. This is more visually stimulating and appealing while giving off a casual or fun feeling.

This is a very symmetrical and balanced design

This design is still visually balanced but displays different plants and flowers on each side of the path.

  • Proportion = When designing a landscape make sure not to select items that are all the same size. Playing into balance, proportion means that different sized elements are needed to have a visually pleasing space. Most landscapers utilize the 2/3 rule. Adjacent objects should be approximately 2/3 in size relative to one another.
  • Harmony = An image or landscape design has harmony when the parts come together to create a pleasing space. While this may sound vague, the human eye can pick out harmony without realizing it. Some interesting concepts include the rule of 3’s (or odds.) Scientifically, the human brain enjoys things in groups of 3 or other odd numbers. Furthermore, variety can aid in bringing harmony into a space. Balancing rough and smooth texture, cool and warm colors, or large and small elements add visual interest and create focal points. However, doing too much of this can cause visual chaos and make an overwhelming space. Good areas for focal points in your landscape maybe around the front door or at the entrance to a path.

The red shutters and red trees bring interest to the primarily green space and provide a focal point for the landscape.

If you have any questions or concerns about your personal space, don’t hesitate to swing by Farmer John’s Greenhouse and chat with our Nursery associates. We’re always here to help! Good luck and happy planting!