Five Ways to Get Creative in the Garden This Spring
'Tis the season for gardening. And with social distancing and quarantines to adhere to, there's no better time to take your garden to the next level than right now. "Spring is the natural time to work in the garden," says Ed Hollander, founder and president of Hollander Design Landscape Architects. "It is the time when trees and shrubs break their dormancy along with perennial flowers, grasses, and herbs, which re-emerge from the earth as the sun warms the soil."
This year, getting active in the garden goes beyond aesthetics, says Hollander—it will "also work to rebuild the spirit. Our fight with coronavirus has been so draining that getting outside, working in the earth, and feeling the joy that comes with growing things is that much more important." Looking for ways to be creative with your garden this spring? We asked a few of our favorite landscape architects for some inspiration.
Plant flowering bulbs.
Nothing livens up a garden like a bunch of beautiful, blossoming flowers, which is why landscape architect Janice Parker says you should start planting flowering bulbs in March and April. "In the spring, plant flowering bulbs in groupings so they arrive by summer," she says. "My favorite summer bulbs are Abyssinian gladiolus (Acidanthera) and calla lilies because they're a great way to play with color and form in your flower bed."
Grow your own produce.
If you're searching for a fun way to save money this summer, Amber Freda, a landscape and garden design expert, suggests planting vegetable seeds. "I think people are going to be more into growing their own food this year than ever before, so I recommend planting vegetables from seed this spring, as well as strawberries and blueberries," she says. "I like to start all my seedlings in biodegradable peat pots indoors to protect them from cold snaps and critters. Once they've sprouted, I move them to a small plastic greenhouse outdoors until they look big and strong enough to be transplanted into the garden or containers."
Haven't yet attempted to grow sedges? Now's the time to start. A grass-like plant that grows fast and freely, Parker says they're perfect for filling an empty patch in your outdoor garden. "Sedges are great ground covers. Unlike lawns, they don't require mowing," she says. "Choose a semi-shady spot in your garden—about three-feet-by-three-feet—and fill it with Carex Pennsylvanica to enjoy for the season."
Add string lights.
A little string light action goes a long way in a garden, especially if you like spending time outdoors at night, too. "One thing that people frequently overlook is how beautiful a garden can feel in the evening," Hollander says. "Stringing café lights from trees and other forms of landscape lighting can make the garden as wonderful to enjoy at night as it is during the day."
Cultivate container plants.
There's no better time than spring to start cultivating your container plants, and Parker says the vessels you use are rife with design opportunity. "Plant containers should echo the style of the house and the garden that it embellishes," she says. "That's why the style and material of the container is just as important as the plant itself."