Trees and Shrubs as Privacy Screens

 AOL’s DIY Life Network is GardenWise

I worked Francesca Clarke at AOL’s  DIY Life Network on a feature story about creating green structures with trees and shrubs for privacy in your garden and outdoor spaces.  There are many options available for all budgets and timelines, depending on how soon do you need a privacy screen from a neighboring home or structure and how quickly you want to block  unwanted  views.  Pictured is a GardenWise garden in DC which includes Black Bamboo which serves as a screen.  

You can read the story in its entirety here –

I recommend to my clients if they have the space is to off-set the shrubs you use for a privacy screen and consider using different heights for a more natural affect.  Also, if a plant dies with staggered plant scheme along with the varying heights, the gap created by the dead plant is not so obvious.  The back row should have the tallest plants that will create the screen.  The middle row should have medium height plants, such as a smaller deciduous shrub such as an Annabelle Hydrangea, which will offer texture contrast and offer summer color.  The front row should be composed of your shortest plants and evergreen ground cover, such as variegated Liriope, which is grass like and has the added bonus feature of a late summer spiky lavender colored flower. Another striking affect I like is to use the purple coneflower and the Russian sage against the pendulous white blossoms of the hydrangea will be smashing.  Unity in an outside space is the best way to quickly provide a stimulating visual. 

Two For One — Shrubs as Garden Accents

Shrubs as Accents are GardenWise

Something I often think about is how to get as much as possible out of a garden space. I keep my eye out for multi-purpose planting choices, and like to include multi-purpose items.  A fantastic way to add a colorful and textural interest to a garden space is to use an eye-catching shrub as a garden accent, which will give your garden a additional focal point.

I was re-reading a 2100 issue of ASLA’s Landscape Architecture and came across a story about the very same idea — using shrubs as accents. I know, great idea, right? Below is the first page of the story (click once to enlarge) shows how a Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard’ can be used as an accent to bring warmth to a garden space. The story, written by Marty Wingate, shows a wonderful picture of the ‘Color Guard’ which is used as an accent that provides a new seasonal focal point to a garden space.  

When Water, Water Isn’t Everywhere

Watering in the Heat

It’s important to keep your trees and shrubs properly watered in extreme heat, especially if rain storms aren’t rolling through your area. Heat waves cause damage, so take the time now to give your trees and shrubs a healthy life for years to come.

Birch trees and other trees native to cool areas will be the first to experience drought stress, so water them generously. And keep in mind, many drought-related tree problems may not show up until fall, and evergreen trees and shrubs won’t wilt to show they need water — so pay attention to all trees and shrubs in your landscape!

Newly planted trees and shrubs need a couple of good soakings each week. It’s also important to water the area under your tree’s canopy. If you have an irrigation system, adjust a few heads to soak this area — you can also place a soaker hose through the lower branches of your tree. Keep in mind that trees and shrubs planted in the last few years will also require extra water, as will established trees.

The quickest way to go? Get a glass of water for yourself, grab a hose for 20 minutes, and generously water your trees and shrubs a few times a week.

An Often Watered GardenWise, Inc. Garden in DC

Changes Now Bring Spring Dreams

Mid-November Changes for Spring   

Adding trees, bushes and bulbs will create changes to add big excitement to your Spring garden. For a less expensive garden  adventure, think  about  rearranging and replanting some existing shrubs.

If you’re planning on getting your bulbs in this weekend, before digging, decide on your planting scheme by laying bulbs on top of the ground where you want them to grow.  Irregular patterns will create a more natural display.  No matter what kind f bulbs you’re planting (daffodils, tulips, grape hyacinth,) a good general rule to make sure you have the best possible display of flowers is to set them at a depth equal to three times their diameter. Place your bulbs in their planting holes pointy side up, and fill your holes with soil, firming it to eliminate air pockets and to secure bulbs in place.

With a river of red tulips, a burst of cool Scilla blue, and  striking  yellow  Narcissus to rival the sun’s brightness waiting for you in early Spring, winter becomes much more tolerable!  

Mid- November is a great time to move trees and shrubs into new positions and to plant new ones so they become established before  winter arrives.  For  trees and shrubs, plant about a half-inch deeper than the pot surface.  With bare root trees, plant up to the nursery mark, the line of soil on the stem that shows the previous planting depth. Firm them in to eliminate air pockets around the roots which can lead to rot and the plant moving around during rough weather. 

Look Ahead to Fall Day 5

Yellow Twig Dogwood

This week, GardenWise concludes its five favorite  Garden Delights, in no particular order, for Fall 2011.  Yesterday we looked at the strking Aster, heated things up with the Dwarf Burning Bush, and earlier marveled at both the Toad Lily and Pink Muhly Grass.  Today we’re showing off the Yellow Twig Dogwood.

Many know of the Red Twig Dogwood, which is a beautiful shrub I enjoy for the fall.  In fact, I have some on my own property, but my Dogs don’t play alone — they have companions.  They play with the lesser known Yellow Twig Dogwood (Cornus stolonifera,)  which provides a beautiful yellow color, and makes the list of “must have” garden delights for Fall 2011. 

I like the Yellow Twig Dogwood for its bright yellow branch and twig color which are also fantastic for Winter.  This shrub develops in great clumps and is a wonderful contrast against any Red Twig.   Oval-shaped green leaves turn to orange-red in Fall, followed by white fruit tinged with green. The Yellow twig dogwood will tolerate wet soil, and can be grown in full sun or part shade.  Some companion plants for the Yellow Dog is a variegated hosta, or something with a dark green larger textured leaf, such as Helleborus ‘White Lady’, also one of my new favorites. 

I have to mention an additional variety of the Red Twig Dogwood — the Variegated Red Twig (Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima) which has  a very bold  variegated leaf that will add interest to your garden year round.  I have two clumps in the front of my property that makes my front yard with its predominately all white garden flowers is a strong statement that passersby always stop to ask about.

Think August in April

August Color for Your Garden

Nothing can ruin a garden experience faster than the August heat and a potential lack of water for your plantings and containers.  It’s easy to forget how often to water in the August heat.  Plan now for August, the toughest summer month on your garden.  It’s also a great time to take a closer look at your gardens and add color with shrubs that flower in August, such as panicle hydrangea types or rose of Sharon.  Perennials, which flower the most in August include Goldstrum rudbeckia, Chinese astilbe types, tube clematis and many hostas.

And remember, keep watering your gardens throughout the summer months!    If you think ahead now, the summer month you will spend the most time outdoors, August,  will be the best ever! 


AOL and GardenWise on Winter Curb Appeal


AOL’s DIY Life and GardenWise offer up tips and ideas on how to improve Curb Appeal during winter in a January 20, 2011 feature story.  We were pleased to have the opportunity to work with  DIY Life writer Francesca Clark,  and below are our tips and ideas from AOL                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You can read the story in its entirety at AOL – 
“Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean it’s time to stop maintaining the front of your house. Winter curb appeal can take on its own delightful characteristics; you just need to know what you’re doing and be deliberate about it.  
Who better to guide us on landscape design and curb appeal than J. Mark White, Landscape Architect and President of DC-based GardenWise, Inc. who appears on HGTV’s Curb Appeal.       
Frame your garden. Use clean and attractive borders. According to Mark, “landscape borders play an important role in a home’s curb appeal — whether we’re talking about the whole yard or just a planting bed; a defined area catches the eye more readily than one that is indistinguishable.” Various curbing materials such as concrete, brick, stone and slate add definition to your garden area and help it look tidy even in the winter months. 

Utilize Outdoor Lighting – Lighting is always important, but it is even more crucial on dark winter nights. Landscape lighting is practical, as it extends the use of your front yard into into the evening hours, and allows for safe passage for you and your guests. It is also a very purposeful design choice.  Mark suggests that new LED lighting focused on some of your front garden accents can significantly change your home’s evening appeal. The right lighting will make your house a warm gem that stands apart from the others on chilly winter evenings. ”                                                                      
                                                                                                                  .  Tip: Mark says, “Repeated use of rock salt to melt ice will damage and kill plants, and ruin an important part of your curb appeal. Salt will also change soil structure. If you (or your city) uses a lot of salt, be sure to thoroughly water your lawn, front flower beds, and landscape in the very early spring.” Click here for eco-friendly alternatives to rock salt.”



GardenWise on Moving Trees and Shrubs

Move It!

If you’ve said to yourself more than once in the past year, “I’ve gotta remember to move that,” now is the time!  

December is a great month to transplant any shrubs or small trees that you’ve  earmarked for relocation. When the leaves have turned color and fallen, it’s time to make your move.  In most areas, Fall is also a great time to  plant new trees and shrubs, as there’s still time for woody plants to make good root growth.

GardenWise on Winter Garden Preparation

Winter Gardens

Well, we’ve had our first snow storm for the 2010/2011 season!   The snow came  early this year, so it’s important for all gardeners to prepare their flowers, trees, shrubs, and other plants for winter if you haven’t already done so.    

Many plants can be  vulnerable to our chilly and snowy winter season, so take the necessary steps to protect them to ensure a healthy spring and summer blooming season next year. It’s  important to carefully look at the various trees, shrubs, bushes, flowers and other plants that make up your landscape to determine the care they will need.

The feeding, fertilization, watering and care of each plant will vary, so it’s  important to give each plant what it needs now to prepare for winter.  Some plants will need to be pruned to create even borders in the snow, while others will need a healthy dose of fertilization to survive the winter.

Proper fall garden preparation can lessen the work necessary in the spring, and will cut down on the cost considerably.  It can also make your garden a year-round source of inspiration. 

Check out some beautiful winter gardens we’ve designed over the past few seasons