Landscaping Considerations for 2018

Blog Category: Landscape Design & Installation
June 7, 2018 by Kim Rieber, Account Manager/Design Team Leader
beautiful multilevel outdoor patio at nighttime with patio furniture and custom lighting on the patio steps

Landscaping continues to evolve from a way to simply spice up your curb appeal to offering extended living space for relaxation and gathering. In 2018, consider a new approach to your landscape and love the outdoors even more!


Choose Weather Tolerant Plants

Weather in the Midwest never fails to provide variety. For optimum plant success, select plants that can survive in our plant hardiness zone and are adept at surviving the changing weather. Plant hardiness zones are based on the average annual minimum winter temperature. You can find a map of hardiness zones for the state of Iowa from the USDA here. The plant hardiness zone for the Des Moines metro area is considered zone 5a.  Plants are categorized and labeled according to what they will withstand in weather extremes. To choose a resilient, weather hardy plant, choose plants hardy to zones 2, 3, 4 and 5a.

Some nurseries grow plants on root stock that is grown in very warm climates. Big box stores sometimes get their plants from southern nurseries. Be an informed buyer and know where your plants were grown and if they can tolerate and thrive in our climate. Better yet, come out to our Garden Center where we will ensure you get the right plant for the right place!


Embrace Imperfection

It’s time to embrace imperfections in the plant world! Plants aren’t perfect; they are living organisms that go through tough times just like we do. They get tired of the cold, dry winter air and get really hot and dehydrated in the summer, much like we do. Just as people have basic needs, plants also need certain things to survive and thrive. If their needs are not met, they may grow abnormally or not survive at all. They can still be beautiful with a little flaw here and there! Its character just like my wrinkles. – oh, I mean laugh lines!

Using natural stone and prairie style plantings in place of turf in some larger areas are great ways to incorporate imperfection into your landscape. Stone and prairie plantings provide an array of texture as well. Planting a butterfly garden is another great way to embrace natural beauty in your landscape. Butterfly gardens are composed of an array of plantings that often are of varying heights, color and texture. The irregularity is exactly what the butterfly needs; a protected place to lay eggs and hide so it can eat and grow bigger.

Let go of the perfectly structured landscape and plant your tomato and pepper plants right next to your ornamental shrubs and perennials. As the insects and bees pollinate your flowers, they will also pollinate your fruit and veggies. The important thing is that your landscape reflects the needs and desires of your family. Stepping outside the box is okay if it works for you!


Create Water Conscious Landscaping

No one wants to feel like maintaining their outdoor space consumes their life – not even me and I love being in the garden. Our expert designers can help you choose plants that, once established, require little water to be at their best. Getting plants established does take some TLC but it is very worth it in the long run!


Some of my favorite water conscious plants include:

  • Trees: honey locust, hackberry, Japanese tree lilac
  • Shrubs: gray dogwood, common ninebark, nannyberry, creeping cotoneaster, columbine
  • Perennials: yarrow, butterfly weed, Baptisia, coreopsis, coneflower, sedum, candytuft, daisy, Russian sage


Extend Your Time Outdoors

As a society, we lead very busy lives, making it difficult to find time to relax. Which is why it’s even more important to create a tranquil setting at home.


Here’s some landscaping updates you can make to extend your living space outdoors and find your zen:

  • Install a retractable canopy over a hot deck or patio. Or add a pergola to create a protected area away from the sun and wind.
  • Plant a windbreak to provide both protection and added privacy.
  • Add a water feature to enjoy the soothing sound of water.
  • Add landscape lighting to accent your favorite sculptural tree or light up a conversation area, allowing you to be outside after dark.
  • Create an obstacle course for children with tree stumps placed at different heights.
  • Add a fire pit or fireplace to warm up an evening and create a space for adults and kids to hang out together. Not to mention a place to make s’mores! Whether you like the smell and crackle of wood burning or the soft glow and ease of gas burning, they both bring that cozy aspect to your yard.


Plant Purple Power

As a tribute to the Pantone Color of the Year, Ultra Violet, purple is where it’s at!


Here are some plant ideas to help you pull the rich, luxurious color into your outdoors:

  • Fruit: black berries, blueberries, plums, aronia berries (chokeberry)
  • Shrubs: viburnum, chokeberry and elderberry all have purple berries whereas purpleleaf sandcherry, ninebark, barberry and Japanese maples have purple foliage.
  • Perennials:
    • Spring: grape hyacinths, scilla, creeping phlox, ajuga, columbine
    • Summer: salvia, allium, Baptisia, bellflower, clematis, delphinium, hardy geranium
    • Fall: monkshood, aster, bishop’s hat
  • Vegetables: beets, eggplant, peppers, purple carrot


Learn more about our landscape design and installation services, feel free to reach out to our experts with your landscaping questions, or you can always request a quote online too.