Our lawns and gardens are extensions of our homes. They are often the first thing visitors notice. Beautiful landscaping sends a warm, welcoming message. If your lawn and garden are looking less than desirable this summer, follow these landscaping tips to create a thriving, serene outdoor retreat.

Landscaping Maintenance

The fastest way to make your landscaping look its best is by practicing regular maintenance. Overgrown plants and trees are more than just unattractive. They can become hazards if they are growing near power lines or blocking sidewalks. Remove overgrown twigs, branches, and debris to give your landscaping an instant makeover and tidier appearance.

Don’t Let Pests be Pests

Insects and animals can have a detrimental effect on your landscape. Be proactive to prevent them from damaging your plant life. Choose a safe, organic pesticide or practice proactive garden design to keep them out. For example, plant petunias in a sunny spot to repel beetles, aphids and squash bugs. If mosquitos are driving you mad, plant basil near gathering areas to ward them off. If aphids are a problem, try planting marigolds to keep them out of your yard. To guard against worms, flies, and slugs, consider planting alliums.

The same proactive garden design ideas can be used to keep deer at bay. To stop them from feasting in your yard, add fuzzy or hairy plants to your landscape. Good options include Siberian bugloss, yarrow, and ageratum. The deer are repelled by the soft bristly hairs on these plants.

Deer and other mammals also tend to stay away from plants with fibrous, leathery or thick foliage. Plant peonies, pachysandra, and irises to create a beautiful landscape that won’t tempt your neighborhood’s wildlife.

Mow Regularly

The most important tool you have for keeping your landscape looking great is your lawnmower. Depending on the growth rate of your lawn and your preferred height, you should mow the grass at least once a week. If your grass is already high, cut it on your mower’s highest setting then reduce it as the season progresses. Avoid the temptation to cut your grass too short in an effort to mow less. Grass must be a certain height to fight off lawn hazards, and cutting it too short will prevent it from thriving.

Reduce Water Usage

Most lists of landscaping tips include advice on hydrating your lawn and garden often, but the lower precipitation in our area in recent years reminds us that our supply of fresh water is limited. That doesn’t mean your outdoor space has to go brown! There are several ways to keep your space green without regular watering. One of the best ways is to replace your grass with plants that require less water, including:

  • Blue grama, a perennial native grass that is drought-tolerant and grows well in full sun
  • Slender sedge, a perfect lawn substitute for light shade
  • Pacific dune sage, which may be used as either a substitute for your lawn or left to grow as an unmowed meadow
  • UV Verde buffalo grass, which was developed as drought- and heat-tolerant grass by the University of California

Use Mulch to Save Time and Promote Plant Health

Thoughtful landscaping tips are about more than just creating attractive outdoor spaces. Garden design is also about promoting a healthy landscape that reduces labor, controls weeds and conserves water. Using mulch is one of the best ways to achieve these goals. When you use plant trimmings as mulch, you can save time and money by significantly reducing weeds that need to be pulled or treated with expensive herbicides.

Mulch also promotes plant health by reducing competition from weeds and feeding beneficial soil organisms. By keeping the soil moist, mulch reduces the need for extra watering, and it improves soil structure by preventing soil compaction.

Before you mulch, pull weeds and water your soil. If you have grass around trees, remove it before mulching to mimic the way trees naturally grow. Keep mulch about 6 to 12 inches from tree trunks and the bases of shrubs and apply a layer of about two to four inches.

Use Color Theory for an Attractive Garden Design

Garden design encompasses many different principles, including texture, scale, form, and color. Understanding color theory is one of the best landscaping tips that will help you create a summer landscape that is pleasing to the eye.

If you’re intimidated by combining colors, choose one color you love as the basis for a monochromatic garden. Sunny yellow, pretty pink and eye-catching purple are good options because there are a variety of flowering species available in each color. To prevent your garden design from becoming boring, look for plants in different shades of your chosen color to create variety.

Use the color wheel for inspiration when combining colors. The color wheel makes it easy to understand the relationships between colors. Colors that blend well together are analogous and next to each other on the wheel. This means that planting red, orange and yellow flowers, for example, will create a pleasing look.

For a stronger contrast, plant flowers in complementary colors. These colors appear opposite from one another on the color wheel. You may plant red roses among a bed of green foliage, or yellow daisies next to purple irises.

Paying attention to color shades can also transform your garden. Dark colors can create a serene, calming atmosphere and may make your garden look larger. If you are planting in a small space, use dark shades to make the most of it.

Brighter colors draw more attention, create a festive atmosphere and may make your space look smaller. If your garden is large, you may use them to border smaller areas for gathering and entertaining.