Redesign and Rebirth — The Gardener’s Greatest Delight!

Garden redesign and rebirth…. For years I’ve maintained the same foundation plantings to keep my garden grounded. It’s delightful to change out the annuals and some perennials around the base foundation plantings to create a whole new garden look each year. Depending on the color scheme that you select, your landscape can look totally different and new with just a few inexpensive small changes. And, for example, you can replant the perennials in another area of the garden for another redesign and rebirth. I hope to provide you with some ideas on how to update and renew your garden space.

My foundation plantings are highlighted in winter

1. Start out with your foundation trees and bushes. Oaks, maples, birches, tulip poplars, dogwoods, or even apple or citrus trees can serve as your grounding giants. Azaleas, hollies, redbuds, forsythia, rhododendrons, and nandinas are great shrubs that will give you years of enjoyment. Additionally, keep in mind that sometimes your foundation plants just live a happy life and then die off, making space for new ones. As older trees decline and lose branches, shady areas can turn sunnier and change the garden’s natural lighting. Winter will showcase your foundation plantings so choose wisely for winter interest and color.

Shrubs make great foundation plantings

2. Set aside some spots in your garden beds to rotate annuals. I like to plant impatiens in my shadier areas. Even though the impatiens tend to survive and thrive in the shade, I like to change the color scheme each year. One year it’s solid apricot and soild white to compliment each other. Another year it’s hot fuschia all over. And this year, it’s a medium solid pink with a white/pink cousin which work together well. Just changing your color scheme in summer with annuals can make you feel like you’re in a whole new space and perk up a dull area. With this year’s impatiens disease that travelled around the East Coast, most of mine died off much earlier than expected. Next year I will try a different shady flowering annual that is more disease-resistant. (Not sure what plant that will be yet…I have this winter to conduct research and decide what annuals may replace my beloved impatiens.)

Impatiens color combos can be infinite

3. Change out anything that is not working or not thriving. My evergreen vinca, while a nice deep green groundcover with pretty lavender-colored flowers in Spring, has completely covered my front bed directly in front of the house allowing only the strongest plants to survive. Most of my daffodil bulbs will can peek through the vinca, and I may get a coneflower or two. Yet the patch of black-eyed Susans is no more. It’s time to remove some vinca. My pachysandra has done its job and is now branching out wherever it can. I regularly pull up portions of pachysandra and plant elsewhere. Your neighbors might enjoy some free plants! A vigorous daylily bed planted in the front yard by a previous resident was attracting deer for a regular flowerbud snack. The daylily bed was not doing well at all, so I dug up and moved the entire bed a few autumns ago. The daylilies now reside in my fenced backyard out of the reach of browsing deer. Multiplying and spreading, my daylilies can now bloom to their hearts’ content.

4. Use pots and planters to create a moveable landscape. Each year, I plant a lovely potted herb garden. (Read more about herb gardening here and here.) Those pots get moved around often to change the arrangement, and allow me to bring in my more tender herbs to winter inside. Using pots and planters as anchors gives you the opportunity to get those daylilies some more sun, or put a drooping hosta in a shadier area, just by picking them up and moving them. Pretty pots also add color and texture and even height to your garden landscape.

Add height to your garden with a tall container
An assortment of planters at Merrifield Garden Center

5. Mix herbs with annual and perennial flowers for a change. A trio of purple sage and lobelia with some yellow verbena made a gorgeous display in my garden a few years earlier. Ornamental pepper plants with their green foilage and red fruits contrasting with purple petunias and white daisies works nicely as well. I like to combine green and purple basil plants with the flowering red nicotania. Bluish purple veronica and yellow marigolds go well with purple basil and variegated pineapple mint. The combinations are endless. Just be certain that your combos have the same light and water needs since they will be sharing a pot or plot together.

Mix hot pink petunias with a purpley sweet potato vine

6. Change the way you use an area of your garden. Sometimes we can take advantage of a very sunny area for a new vegetable or herb garden. Or maybe a small tree has spread its branches and created a nice shady area. Maybe that shady section of lawn that just won’t grow grass could be morphed into a lovely moss garden. Or you could set up some garden decor such as a bench and some chairs and have a lovely pondering spot. Sprinkle around some gravel or mulch to keep the weeds down, and voila, you have a repurposed space. Read about my Stone Terrace project where I used leftover slate in a shady area to create a lovely sitting space.

What have you done over the years to change your own garden’s look?


Also, for more ideas on redesign and rebirth, see my recent posting on A Water Gardening Remake to see how I modified an existing water garden from a small circular pond to one with a waterfall.


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