What is that backyard oasis without proper landscaping? These local landscape professionals explain what takes a garden from competent to captivating.

Jim Graeler

Chesterfield Valley Nursery

• “You want a garden that looks good from a year-round perspective,” says Graeler, noting the blend of flowering plants and evergreens, as well as a Japanese maple, in this project. “You have that color, and the backdrop that helps it stand out; everything’s not just green, but you've got the different colors.”

• Graeler recommends homeowners think about the size of the garden when planning; some spaces are small and intimate, and should be designed as such. Additionally, think about the layered effect of the plants, such as ground cover compared to annuals or perennials.

• A Japanese maple looks phenomenal when paired with a water feature, says Graeler. “It’s like it’s meant to be.”

Rebecca Eisele

Quiet Village Landscaping

• In response to the slope of this home’s front yard, the area was terraced. “It’s a nice way to soften a slope by putting multiple layers in,” says Eisele. “As the plant material grows in, it softens up the stonework so it isn't quite so imposing.”

• Smaller yards may benefit from a less-is-more approach. “With smaller front yards, we try not to use too many different plant materials,” Eisele says. “We also really like to focus on colors and textures that might get lost in larger garden; in a smaller garden, you can really appreciate the colors and textures.”

• Eisele recommends adding non-plant life to the garden to turn a small space into something special. “Putting in garden art or individual stones or boulders adds a nice focal point.”

David Sherwood

Sherwood’s Forest Nursery and Garden Center

• “Due to the severe slope of this front yard, the landscape had to be retained,” explains Sherwood. “The client, however, was very reluctant to install a retaining wall; in lieu of that, we installed weathered granite boulder outcroppings.”

• To add grandeur to a garden, Sherwood recommends one or two ornamental specimen trees as focal points, such as this Japanese maple and Fat Albert blue spruce.

• Another option? Stone. “The boulders themselves are granite and they add a richness to a yard,” Sherwood says. “These aren't just rocks picked up off the highway; these are tumbled, granite boulders.”

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