Spring is here! With COVID-19 not quite in the rearview mirror, you’ll be spending lots of time at home and a spruced-up landscape will work wonders to rejuvenate your spirit.
As we once again begin to welcome friends and family into our homes, a relaxed yet safely distanced al fresco setting is the perfect place for entertaining.
This spring you’ll want to maximize your space, which can best be achieved outdoors, where you can push out the boundaries, advises Ken Muellers, senior landscape designer for Hicks Nurseries in Westbury.
A FLEXIBLE DESIGN
These days, a flexible outdoor design is key.
A patio can have both an intimate bistro table for two and sprawling conversation areas for people to spread out as needed, with spillover seating on the grass.
“If you have flat lawn area, there’s no reason the party can’t extend onto the lawn area,” Muellers says.
Portable potted plants, which can follow the sun as it shifts through the seasons, are another great way to achieve a flexible landscape.
“If you need more space, you can take them off the deck and put them somewhere else in the yard,” Muellers says. “If you want it to look beautiful, put them close to the house where you can see them.”
ADDITION BY SUBTRACTION
In many established landscapes, patios and decks have been penned in by shrubs that cut people off from their yards and limit their space.
“Sometimes removing hedges or pruning hedges to open up views and open up pathways and space can be an asset,” says Muellers.
Overgrown yews and Japanese holly (Ilex crenata), for example, can benefit from an extreme spring pruning.
Adding steppingstones such as bluestone can complement the main patio and create a more informal setting.
“You gain more space without detracting from your existing patio or deck,” Muellers says. “That’s the key: how to add on without it looking like an add-on.”
EXTENDING THE SEASON
A firepit – gas powered or wood burning – has dual functions, serving both as a focal point and heat source for the backyard.
“It also works well to extending the gathering into the evening a little better,” says Muellers. “You have the warmth; you have the light from the firepit, so that can be a nice element in the landscape.”
To stretch out the season, concentrate on a progression of bloom, with plants flowering early in the season, throughout the summer, and well into the fall.
“That’s done with multiple layers, from the canopy of the trees, flowering trees, flowering shrubs, perennials, and then supplementing that with annuals and even tropical plants in the summer months to give that extra pop of color,” Muellers explains.
As you spend more time outdoors, you’ll desire more privacy from neighbors who also will be hanging out in their yards.
“Evergreens are a great way to get that privacy between homes,” Muellers says.
For smaller properties that can’t easily accommodate a 20-foot wide spruce or pine border, try plants that stay more in scale with your property, like skip laurels and emerald green arborvitae, both of which grow tall and narrow and work better in tight spaces, notes Muellers.
To keep noise levels down from other properties, add a water feature to help dampen the sound.
“You kind of counter it by creating your own white noise,” Muellers says.
To learn more about Hicks Nurseries, visit hicksnurseries.com.