On this page I will do my level best to share with you 23 of the best landscaping design ideas that I’ve used over the years. Many of these photos are from my yard, but I will probably include designs from other places that I’ve been involved with as well. Let’s start with this. A Landscape Design Idea for the Outside Corner of a Sidewalk.
Contrary to popular believe landscape designs don’t always have to be balanced all in proportion. A couple of important aspects of landscape design are specimen plants, accent plants and repetition. Repetition is really important. You can repeat themes and switch out plants and it will “feel” different but at the same time fit together seamlessly.
This design features two Japanese maples as specimen plants and a variety of color plants as accent plants, with repetition. The Japanese maple closest to us in this photo is a Laceleaf Weeping Japanese Red Maple. The variety is ‘Crimson Queen’. The Japanese maple in the back of the photo, the one furthest from us is an upright Japanese Maple, the variety is ‘Butterfly’. Even though ‘Butterfly’ is an upright growing Japanese maple it is a slow grower and in this situation my wife and I keep it trimmed so it doesn’t hover over the sidewalk and block the view as you walk down the sidewalk.
Left untrimmed or lightly trimmed, ‘Butterfly’ would grow to a height of 10′ or more. The greenish blue evergreens that you see repeated in this design are Table Top Juniper. There are a lot of Junipers to choose from, and most of them I do not like at all. ‘Table Top’ is an exception to that rule. It is low growing, slower growing than many, and very easy to maintain. Two of my other favorite Junipers are ‘Blue Rug’ and ‘Green Mound’.
I urge you to not select plants that “look just like” any one of these. Chances are they will not perform the same and in my very opinionated opinion many of them quickly become “Jungle like”! Blue Rug Juniper and Green Mound Juniper are very low growing and ground hugging. They both grow into an evergreen ground cover, much like carpeting. They keep the weeds out and look great. I often use them under Japanese maples.
Blue Star Juniper is another nice Juniper. I used Blue Star Juniper in this planting at the nursery.
Back to the landscape design photo shown above.
Notice that I used the Table Top Juniper on both ends of this planting and I used three of them in each place. Plants are much more effective when you use them in multiple numbers and it’s usually easier to work them into the planting if you use odd numbers. A “loose” landscape design rule to follow is . . .
Plant in Groupings of Odd Numbers and Repeat the Groupings When Possible.
Like I said, this is a “loose rule to follow”. Don’t get all caught up in trying to make it perfect. If you follow my suggestions loosely it will look great! I promise!
From another angle you can see the Japanese maples and the accent plants used in this design. The colorful plants used as accent plants in this landscape design are Coral Bells, botanical name Heuchera. Now this is where the so called landscaping or plant experts like to slap me around. They say things like; “Mike, you can’t plant Coral Bells in the sun!” And they are usually pretty mean about it. I know that. But I did, and I do and it works out just fine for me and the Coral Bells. So here’s my advice about that. There are rules written by so called experts, then there are proven, practical, boots on the ground, things that people like me know work, because we’ve actually done it and not just researched and written about it.
Using Heuchera, Coral Bells, in a Landscape Planting.
Coral Bells are shade loving, shade tolerant plants. But those with dark colored leaves do perfectly fine in the sun. as a matter of fact, most Coral Bells do fine for me in the sun except the ones with a lot of yellow in the leaves. I have some with a burnt orange colored leaf and they love the sun! Those with yellow, yellow leaves like Huechera Citronelle will not tolerate the sun. Amber Waves did okay for me in the sun, but not great. Heuchera ‘Caramel’ which is burnt orange loves the sun! There’s a photo of ‘Caramel’ at the top of this post. Looking at the photo below you can see some Heuchera ‘Caramel’ in the planting on the other side of the sidewalk.
Using Evergreen Azaleas in a Landscape Design.
To me, Evergreen Azaleas are amazing plants. They are like a sleeper in the landscape. If you look closely you can see the Evergreen Azaleas in the center of this planting. There they are, nondescript, just “chillin in the landscape”, doing nothing to attract any attention to themselves. Then all of a sudden, around Mother’s Day, boom! They burst into bloom with a display of the most striking, vivid flowers imaginable.
I’m serious when I say that Evergeen Azaleas totally amaze me. I’m in northern Ohio, zone 5. The USDA says I’m in zone 6, they recently changed it, and they are completely wrong about that. We are still zone 5. Sure we had a number of mild winters, until the winter of 2013/2014. This winter? Bitter cold, 15 degrees below zero, below zero many days, down in the single digits much of the winter, even mid March. To me that is zone 5 for sure! Good. Got that off my chest! Looking at the Evergreen Azaleas in this landscape planting it’s easy to wonder why they are even there. At the end of winter the leaves are always brown, burnt from the cold of the winter, the plants look dead, then all of a sudden, seemingly out of the blue, they explode into bloom commanding attention, proving they’ve earned a place in the landscape planting. I need to add some photos to this page of the azaleas in bloom. Remind me of that in May will ya?
Using Butterfly Japanese Maple in a landscape Design.
I have to devote at least on paragraph to this ‘Butterfly’ Japanese Maple. This is by far one of my favorite plants, but then again, I have a lot of “favorite plants”. Butterfly Japanese maple is an upright growing variety. It has green and white, variegated, delicately cut leaves with pinkish edges. The growth comes out pink then turns to pink, white and green. This is a crazy beautiful plant. Like most Japanese maples it is rated for hardiness zones 5 through 8. In zone 8 most need some shade, but in zones 5 and 6 most do pretty well in full sun after they are established. If you have a really small Japanese maple, put it in an area where it can get a little shade for the first few years. Hey look what I found! This is a video of my favorite Japanese maples. The sound wasn’t great, it was windy, I think I shot this video by myself, but what’s interesting is that many of the plants that I’ve just shown you you will see in this video when they were smaller.
Mike McGroarty’s Favorite Japanese Maples.
Landscaping Ideas for an Island Planting in the Front Yard.
Island plantings can really add some sparkle to any front yard. This is an island planting right in front of our house. After this photo was taken we made some minor changes to this planting so I’ll explain how it was when this photo was taken and what improvements we’ve made to it.
This planting is pretty simple. Two specimen trees, three different kinds of Huechera and some tulip bulbs that you can’t see in this photo. The green tree to the left is a Lavender Twist Red Bud Tree. Very much a weeping tree with green heart shaped leaves all summer, but covered with Tiny Lavender flowers in the spring.
The little red tree to the right is a Laceleaf Weeping Japanese Red Maple, the variety is ‘Crimson Queen’. There are three different kinds of Heuchera in this planting as well. To the right the dark ones are ‘Midnight’ in the middle ‘Caramel’ and to the left a variety with green and white variegated leaves and I don’t remember the actual variety, I planted these a long time ago and they were patented so I don’t propagate them.
After this photo was taken we removed a number of thee Heuchera because they had gotten so large and we opened up some areas where we are likely to plant some Blue Rug Juniper. On this page, almost to the bottom of the page you can see a thick planting of Blue Rug Juniper under a Japanese maple tree.
Landscape Design Ideas for a Large Corner Planting Bed.
Our home sits on a corner lot. This bed sits in the corner, just a few feet from the sidewalk. This is a large bed, probably at least 40 or 50 feet in length by 15 or 20 feet wide.
You can’t see it well in this photo but the large tree closest to us is a Royal Red maple tree. Royal Red is very much like Crimson King maple. So much so that few could ever tell them apart. As you will see in the rest of the photos and I bordered the front side (street side) of this bed with Variegated Lirope. Those are the little flowers you see in the foreground of this photo.
This is a better photo of the Royal Red maple tree.
This bed has a little bit of everything. Group plantings of a number of different Heuchera, roses, miniature roses, two unusual Japanese maples and a Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick trained into a single stem plant. You can see the Harry Lauder’s just on the right hand edge of the above photo.
In the above photo you can see the single stem Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick and the Goshiki Shidare Japanese maple. Goshiki Shidare is a weeping Japanese maple with variegated leaves. Early in the spring it looks almost pink.
With this photo we are looking at the opposite end of the bed from the Royal Red maple tree. The little yellow tree you are looking at in this photo is an Orange Dream Japanese maple. I love this tree! On this page you can see a close up of the leaves of this amazing little tree. Since this photo was taken Pam and I removed the Caramel Huechera from this end of the bed because after a few years the bed looked just way too cluttered and we the Orange Dream Japanese maple is the specimen plant at this end of the bed. We wanted it to really stand out and show itself off!
Again you can see the Variegated Lirope as they wrap around each end of the bed. The photo below shows them across the front (street or sidewalk side) of the bed.
Isn’t that Goshiki Shidare just a wonderful little tree? I have three of them in the landscaping around our house. If you look closely you can see another against the garage wall. That one is a bit taller. As you can see there are many Miniature Roses throughout this landscape design.
But there are five sleeper plants in this planting as well. Have you noticed them?
It’s difficult to see in this photo, but if you watch the video you can probably see them better. There are two Endless Summer Hydrangea in the middle of this landscape design and there are also five Evergreen Azaleas. The Azaleas are planted in an arc that somewhat wraps around the Goshiki Shidare Japanese maple. Most of the time they are unnoticable, but when they are bloom they jump out and say; “Look at me!”
When designing landscapes I almost always use shrubs planted in an arc. It’s important to use an odd number, I usually use 5 or 7 plants to make my arcs. The odd number really helps because you really need a back, center plant in order to lay the arc out easily. In an arc I often use Japanese Holly or English Holly like Blue Boy and Blue Girl or Blue Prince and Blue Princess.
With English hollies you need both male and female plants but you really only need one male plant in the arc. I make that the center plant in the arc, the rest are all red berry producing female plants.
This video below is something that I recently shot at the house that we built in 2018. It’s a simple landscape design and I’m also installing Landscape Lighting in this Landscape as well.
You can see the Landscape Lighting Page Here.
Okay, I am going to wrap this post up. I hope you’ve found it useful, mildly entertaining, but most of all I hope I’ve given you some landscape design ideas that you can use.
As always, by any and all means stay inspired!
Get Paid for Growing Small Plants at Home.
Mine have earned thousands of dollars.
Questions or comments? Post them below and I’d be happy to answer questions for you.
Looks like you have a thing for Heucheras, Mike! So do I! They make great pops of color all year long even into the winter.
I really do, we sell a lot of them at the nursery.
Afton Jackson says
I loved the way you described Evergreen plants like the Azalea and how to use them in landscape designs. Having lush green plants around my house has always been a dream of mine because I constantly worked in the city for most of my life, and there aren’t a lot of plants there. Now that I have my own yard to myself, I want to make sure I plant the right things to achieve this, so I’ll make sure I reference your example and ask for something similar from any landscape installation company I manage to talk to.
RM Williams says
You have a great site with lots of useful information. Your straightforward and encouraging way of
sharing your knowledge always makes your articles fun to read.
On the Japanese maples, they usually develop such a beautiful natural branch structure that they can be as attractive in winter as they are in summer or autumn. The lollipop on a stick, or gumdrop shaped shrub on a stick pruning just does not do these trees justice, to our eyes. Do you have any tips for pruning Japanese maples in a more naturalistic style?
That depends on the variety, there really is nothing more beautiful than this tree; https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2020/02/crimson-queen-laceleaf-weeping-japanese-maple/
Upright varieties can be lightly, tip pruned to make then nice and full.
You are welcome to email me re my last email message. I like your designs. thx Wendy
i have to design a yard that is 62 ft long one way and 25 feet long the other way. The beds are only 3 feet wide. I have to use only upright columnar evergreens and they have to be single file because its too narrow to group. Are there deciduous shrubs you specifically recommend that i can install and keep 3 feet wide, even though their maturity is 6-8 feet? Thank you s o much
Fine line rhamus.
Gerald Ross says
Where can I buy Japanese Maples the size that you show in the video (in your yard)? I live in Pittsburgh and I can drive to pick them up.
I have some at my place but they won’t last long and if you come by I’ll point you a couple of other places that have them. We will be at the nursery all day Saturday and Sunday in May unless it’s pouring. 4850 North Ridge Road, Perry, Ohio 44081
Gerald Ross says
Do you have any Orangeola? Would they fit in the back of a Jeep Cherokee?
Not Orangeola, right now I don’t have any weeping maples at all.
Gerald Ross says
Please let me know where I can possibly find a large Organeola and a large Golden Full Moon (1 of each). I don’t want to make a trip up if there are none available (I would need to rent a truck or van).
I don’t have them, but to find them closer to you if possible.
I have a large sugar maple tree in the yard and nothing grows under it. The yard slopes away from the house and just pools under the tree so the soil is compact and full if debris. We have backfilled and seeded twice. The more the water the more the erosion and runoff. I can send pictures if neseccary. What would you recommend?
Maybe pachysandra or english ivy. But some battles are just not worth fighting.
We have created a new landscape bed 12′ long x 8′ wide at our walkway leading from driveway to front Door. The front door is about 45 feet from the driveway and landscape bed.
Full Sun, Southern Ohio need to plant something that can be my focal point of this landscape bed. When I do plant should I put the focal point tree/shrub in the area closest to walkway or out where the landscape bed starts and away from walkway.
Also I had a person suggesting to plant a Dwarf Blue Globe Spruce 10 gallon but another person said not to because many are dying from some fungus. Do you know anything on that?
Thank you for any suggestions,
If the bed is only 12′ long I’d center the specimen plant or use two one on each end. They can be different. You shouldn’t have a problem with a healthy spruce. At least that I know of.
I am about to work on Landscaping around the outside of our high school. What are the best plants to use for this? We are wanting some type of shrub, I was thinking maybe an evergreen Azelea. Also looking to add something else! What do you think??
That’s really difficult to answer without seeing the area.
I’m interested in planting some companion heuchera with my Emporer One maple. What would be a safe distance to plant heuchera from the trunk of the maple?
I’d say about 24 to 30 inches would be ideal.
Can you please tell me a shrub that would work across the front of a small yard space? (Bungalow Home). The small yard space us blank. The space gets sun and shade. Thank you.
Crimson Pygmy Barberry.
Theresa Allen says
Thank you for the quick reply. The space is give or take 12 ft across. Should I plant 5 or 7? I have a small corner space that is what I say is backed up in its own space. What could I plant there that would compliment these shrubs?Thanks again.
Kris Ferguson says
How do I know if I have male or female holly plants? I have Blue Boy – does that mean it is a male plant or can it be female? It didn’t say on the tag when I purchased it.
Blue Boy is a male plant, the counter part is blue girl.
I love how these beds are raised. I have some beds in my yard that aren’t raised, and these pictures make me think I need to rip everything out and start over! Ha ha!
What a great resource for those that are unsure about what they want to do with their own yards. I love that you add great photos and details for your readers. This can even be helpful for those that are thinking of enlisting the help of a professional landscaper to do their yard for them. It can give them a great starting place and an idea of what you are looking for, Think about your lifestyle, your overall vision, and of course your budget when making landscaping decisions. And then get out there are start working, A home’s landscaping is a large part of the home itself, Tending to it is important.
Thanks Peter. You’re right, landscaping should be planned. Not delayed but planned. When on a budget build the beds first, get that right. Then start adding a specimen plant here and there as your budget affords you can add accent plants and perennials. It doesn’t all have to be done at once, but my advice is to not skimp on soil. Raise those beds first thing so your landscaping can be seen from the curb.
Jean B. says
This is absolutely the very best post on gardening that I have seen.. Better formed than any post on anything I’ve seen. The information, pics and details are fantastic! As you can tell I am now your fan! Love the lavender Redwood.. I live in California , zone 9 close to zone 14. Really. How wide should, or could, this tree grow? I have a small yard so don’t have lots of space like you.
My only complaint concerning your post is its in the Ohio area and not in the Sacramento Valley of California.
Thanks for such a wonderful post!
I appreciate your comments. The lavender twist redbud can grow to a width or 7 or 8 feet, but with regular pruning it can be kept much smaller.
Oops you knew my mistake Redbud not redwood. I have wanted a Redbud for years but thought they were too large. I’m getting one and a new pair of garden shears! Thank you
Is it by design that your Japanese Maples are small and shaped, or are they the kinds that just remain small?
Most of my Japanese maples are either weeping varieties or really slow growing.
They’re gorgeous. You have go to be the most envious neighbor in your neighborhood with your landscaping designs.
Thank you, I appreciate that.
Vivian Dennis says
Enjoyed your photos and would like to find out what area of country you are in . Also the name of the plants in your garden that look like a form of lettuce that are yellow and tinged with red that picks up the color from the Red Dragon. I’ve never seen these before – perhaps b/c of where we live in
Virginia. They are striking also in front of your house too. Thanks a lot.
P.S. I used your url in the website comment.
Most of the color in my landscape is coming from assorted Coral Bells, Heuchera. I’m in northern, Ohio, zone 5. We are very close to Lake Erie. Pretty cold here.
Mike- I have a corner space 12′ long by 8.5′ sides, close to corner of house. The sides meet at right angle just 4′ from house. I was thinking of planting a tree closer to 8′ from house in that triangle. The soffits also jut out another 2′ from corner of house/garage. I was looking for Japanese maple, but found royal red maple instead. I live in billings montana which is considered zone 4b. I really wanted a Japanese maple for this area, but looks like I will have to order one if I am to get it. Can I make this work in my area? The planting space is on east end of house protected by wind, will get am sun and on shade. Thank you. Also looking for some ground plants around the hopeful maple. 🙂
Royal Red Maple is a very nice tree, but not that close to the house. If I were you I’d order Tamukeyama Japanese maple if you can find one.
Thank you !! Love your posts.
Mike, just read your site. Loved all of the landscaping. You are very talented. I use to live in Ohio (born and raised a buckeye) but have lived in N.C. now for 20 years. We will be redoing our front walk way and want to use your ideas. In particular, I want to plant 2 Lavender lace trees on each side. The space can be up to 8 ft wide and 8 to 10 feet from front porch . Will this work? I read where you do not sell to public but would you know of a reputable mail order nursery for me to puchase these trees from?
If you have a space that is 8′ wide that should work. I really don’t know who to tell you to order from, but before ordering always check out their reputation on garden watch dog. It’s a really valuable resource for gardeners.
Hi Mike. I need your help. The neighbour behind me has a very junky back yard, that I hate seeing all summer long. I want to put a hedge in to block that view. It will be right beside a septic field and we have some drainage from the front yard, therefore fairly wet all winter. The local greenhouse told be that Leyland Cypress would be the best as long as it’s not sitting in a puddle of water all winter. What is your opinion? Thanks.
If you are going to put an evergreen back there I would invest in some good topsoil to build a raised bed for the plants. They will do soooooo much better in a raised bed. If you don’t raise the bed not only will they not grow well, they might even die. The raised bed will actually help you create the screen faster. I’m a huge fan of techney arborvitae if they are available in your area, but I know that Leyland Cypress are quite popular.
Hey mike I’m looking for some advice I have a smaller 1/4 circle garden in my front lawn lining my side walk and in front of my house and curving out from the edge of those two points. I’m looking to add some curb appeal that is about as low maintenance as can be. I live in south western Ontario so our winters can be -30C and our summers can get to be +30C. That spot of our home sees full sun most of the day. any advice you could give on how to make our front yard more inviting would be very greatly appreciated! Thank you very much
Blue Rug Juniper is super low maintenance and you can accent that with some coral bells. Just don’t pick that are light yellow in color, they won’t tolerate that much sun. Also consider a weeping Japanese maple.
How do you start the island? How do you get it so clean and keep it that way? Roundup first? I need steps from the very beginning
You can spray with roundup to kill the grass if you do it carefully and don’t hit grass you want to keep. Or you can peel the sod back about 10″ all the way around, lay down cardboard or newspaper and cover with mulch. I’ve often trimmed out the edge, turn those pieces upside down and cover with topsoil. Give a choice I prefer to spray first, it’s the most effective.
Kim Rauser says
Are those boxwoods along the front of the house?
Yes, the light green evergreen are boxwood.
Beth Scholtes says
I am wanting to plant a Japanese Maple near my house in the front yard landscape. How far away from the house should I plant it? I don’t want it “growing up” and into my siding. Also, do I need to use compost when I am planting new shrubs or trees like Japanese Maple? What is your suggestion there? I am all about easy, even though I am not afraid to put the work into it to make it look great! I just want to make sure my shrubs and my Japanese Maple looks healthy and gets a good start from the beginning.
In most cases, depending on the tree that you select, you should be a minimum of 7′ from the house, 10′ is better. Then just build the bed out far enough to accommodate the tree and some accent plants. Compost is always a good thing. If you are in clay soil install your plants a little high and mound up around them so the roots can breath.
Michele Joerres says
Thanks for all the wonderful iideas! You have a beautiful yard and house. I too live in zone 5 Wisconsin and just bought a green viridis laceleaf japanese maple. I’d like to plant it in the front yard along the walkway. It gets about 3-4 hours of sun might be a bit more. Afternoon partial shade. . Just wondering how far you recommend to plant it from my walk. The garden is about 5-6 feet wide. I plan on trimming it up as you do in you pics. Thanks for any advice.
Looking to the future the tree should be at least 36″ from the walk and 48″ would be better, even if you have to make the bed a little wider around the tree. You can of course keep it trimmed, but they do get quite wide in time.
Thank you Mike, we planted it yesterday and it’s exactly 36 from the walk. I’ll have to keep up on the trimming lol. Thanks again!
Emelia Hudson says
your blog is very nice filled with lots of landscaping design. i was looking for different interesting design. lots of people can get idea from your blog. Thanks for sharing this.
Thanks for sharing your beautiful landscaping photos as well as your informative blog and emails. I am in LOVE with the Lavender Twist Weeping Redbud! I am currently redoing my front yard landscaping and want to put one in the large berm I have created. I was told by an employee at my local nursery (Chicago-area) that it would not be wise to plant one without some type of protection for it (a building, a larger tree, etc.). She also told me it will die since I plan to put it on the southwest side of my house, which is where most of the wind comes from. What is your opinion?
I don’t believe a word of what she told you. I have found the Lavender Twist Weeping Redbud to be extremely hardy and not in need of any of the protection that she speaks of. The difference between her and I? She works at a garden center, I have grown and sold hundreds of these trees, I have them in several of my landscapes and have given many to friends who have them in their landscape. I’m in northern Ohio, down to 21 below last winter. You were given bad information.
Thanks for the quick reply. I know you are in Ohio, which made me feel confident that the tree would do fine in my front yard. It was such a let down to speak with her. She really discouraged my excitement for starting this landscape project, which only lasted until I bought a few evergreens that were on my list. I am having trouble finding the Lavender Twist Weeping Redbud in my area, but I am hopeful that I will find it somewhere! I am now determined! Thank you for taking the time to reply.
You’re welcome. It’s frustrating. People who dispense that kind of advice really shouldn’t be on a sales lot.
Lea Faulks says
I pinned the top picture, Landscape Design Idea for the Outside of a Sidewalk.; 16 weeks ago today (May 30, 2015) with the following caption: “23 Landscaping Ideas with Photos..This site, i.e., this experienced and extremely knowledgable gardener, Mike, is straight talking and chock-full of great ideas..” Up until this moment it has been repinned 6277 times, not to mention the people who posted the picture via other routes. I’d say that this shows how many people trust you and what you advise. I know I do. I follow you (and pin so many of your things) rigorously. Thank you so much.
Hello, Mike. You are the first and only gardener I have listened to and watched online or any where for that matter. Thank you for generously sharing all your knowledge. I have already bought two nursery tools that you have brought to my attention to edge beds. My question is when making beds on the side of a garage or next to a house, how much soil and mulch do you put up against these structures than taper down to the edge? Thank you again and take good care.
The amount of soil is up to you, 6 to 8 inches is plenty. Mulch? About 2 to 3 inches is plenty.
Thank you, Mike. I’ll just experiment, and your landscaping beds and home are beautiful.
Thank you, Mike. I’ll just experiment. Your landscaping beds and home are just beautiful.
Can u post the evergreen azaleas now that it’s spring, plz?
Thanks for reminding me, they are not in bloom yet, but as soon as they are I need to take some photos.
Terry Szulewski says
I absolutely love your garden design! I’ve just had my back garden destroyed due to some new construction and plan to start again using a Japanese garden theme. I am obsessed with japanese maples (I only have 2 so far) , love heuchera and ‘manicured’ conifers…. all the things you have! You’ve given me some great ideas and introduced me to some new plants!
Mike, do you protect your maples for the winter? This will be my first winter with them and am worried that I do the right thing! I live in zone 5, Montreal, Canada.
I really make no effort to protect my Japanese maples here in Ohio zone 5. Last winter it went down to 15 below zero F., most of my Japanese maples did fine. Some damage on a few mature varieties, but protecting them wouldn’t have done any cold. Cold like that, for days at a time is going to permeate any protection you can provide. I was amazed at how well most of mine did and I had hundreds and hundreds in the nursery. Most did just fine.
JUANIA [email protected] says
mike your lyard is beautiful i sure wish mine look like that bu to old to do it but it looks like something in a magizine i bet your wife loves that i sure would and i enjoy teading all you have on the websire.
Joanie Mosley says
You just keep your “very opinionated opinions” coming, I luv them, and besides, I respect a “regular” gardener’s opinion anyway! Thank you 🙂
I have a small area with one azalea in it. I want of course to expand it but what can I plant with it?
I posted a comment but somehow it showed that the sender was anonymous. That was me lol!! Anyway, all day I have been reading the material I ordered from you, and visiting some of the wholesale sources that were included but was not able to access the backyard growers forum. I don’t remember registering for it when I bought the system. What can I do? Also, I live in New Orleans and the soil here is clay. I will have to buy potting soil and sand from Lowes or Home Depot until I can find another source. Are products from these stores acceptable? Thanks for the encouragement!!
Yvonne Angus says
I just love the look of your flower beds, and I always wonder what kind of mulch you use. If you’ve mentioned it before, please forgive me; I must have missed it. Thanks, Mike!
Thanks for the ideas! The pix are absolutely gorgeous. I live in New Orleans, LA and I thought I was in zone 8, but I honestly don’t know what zone I’m in. We have very hot summers here. Like Karen, I would like to do away with my lawn also. I have a Crepe Myrtle that is still potted, and I’m thinking about using it in a corner planting, on a smaller scale than what Mike has done with the Royal Red Maple corner planting. The areas that I want to plant in are all north facing and in full sun.My 2 Japanese Magnolias, Crepe Myrtle (potted), Bottle Brush (potted) survived the unusually cold winter we just had. I have several Indian Hawthorne and Azaleas which survived also. And I have lots of Agapanthus and Canna which are coming back nicely. All of the plants, except for the 2 potted ones, are planted on one side of my front lawn. The sidewalk leading to the house divides the 2 lawns and the other side is bare. I would like plants that are drought tolerant but will also survive really cold weather. Any suggestions would be helpful.
It’s best to consult with nurseries in your area. I was just in New Orleans a few days ago! My son just landscaped his house in Baton Rouge.
Thanks for your quick reply! I have gone to garden centers, Lowes and Home Depot and that is why I am confused about which zone I’m in. When I first became seriously interested in plants, I read that I was in zone 7. shortly thereafter I read that I am in zone 8, and I bought plants that are for this zone. A garden center employee said that we are in zone 10. When I asked a different garden center employee which palms were more cold hardy, they tried for 15 minutes to convince me to buy a corn plant. My point is this: I have found that in most cases I know more than the people who sell the plants. Maybe I’m going to the wrong places. Anyway, thanks for all of your help. I bought your backyard growing system in 2011 and haven’t done anything with it ( physical and financial limitations, etc). But I have decided to go for it and just do what I’m able to do right now, and do more as physical and financial situations improve.
You’re right about garden store employees and it doesn’t make them bad people. It’s just that they only know what they know and the nature of the industry is that people in those positions are never long term employees nor are they extensively trained.
I think you’d be amazed to know how many people we have with all kinds of physical limitations growing and selling plants. They amaze me at what they over come. Financial is easy. It doesn’t cost much to do this and if you really do the arithmetic you can turn a few odds and ends in to money that you can use to buy more plants and supplies. It’s an amazing business.
RICKY KNUDSON says
This article came at the right time for me, I have a flowerbed that will be newly plantet , everything will be removed except a Lacy Maple and your pictures gave me good ideas
The one thing you might improve upon is more detailed information. I am a seasoned gardener, never the less, I can never get enough information.
Maybe you might call it, hand-it-to-me-on-a-silverplatter.
Thank You I do enjoy your gardensight very much!
HI Mike,your landscapes are beautiful, I wish that I could transfer them here in South Carolina.
We’re cleaning up, after the terrible ice storm (last month). Today the temperature was in the low 30″s to 50. I’ve not had time to do what I need to, in the area of planting, your pictures inspire me to get started. Thank you for sharing.
Congrats on your new home! I would like to start with a question: is the fence chain link or pavricy (will cast a shadow when the sun is shining)? If it’s a solid, pavricy fence, you may want to consider other locations because your garden may not receive the 8-12 hrs of sun it will desire each day. Those fences are on the east and south sides, correct? If the layout of your yard allows it, I would consider using the north and west sides more sun.Is the 4 4 box accessible from the strawberry side in the corner garden? If it is, you should be able to access each square of the box. If not, you may want to reduce the size of the box so you can reach each square (2 foot reach from any side). Do a search on companion plants.’ There’s lots of good stuff out there. In the meantime, know that tomatoes and peppers do well together. Squash and peppers do well together also. Here are some others:Spinach: strawberryCucumbers: radish, lettuce, beans, peasPotatoes: tomato, cucumber, sunflower, green beans, peas and broad beansWhen planning and eventually planting, consider the full-growth size of the plants. Strawberries will stay low to the ground and spread, while cantelope (a vine) will go everywhere (consider growing it up a trellis of some sort). The watermelon (can also be grown up a trellis) and squash can/will grow large, as will the tomatoes. From my experience, 2-4 squares have been needed for tomato plants as well as zucchini. I hope that helps . and that I haven’t discouraged you. I remember my first year; the final plan didn’t look anything like the first one! Search this site, esp here: It has lots more detail for planning. And if you can get the book on Square Foot Gardening, it will help lots too. It has spacing charts as well as planting timeframes. Happy planning .
Absolutely amazing! Thanks for sharing, Mike, as you are always willing to do. And to think, specimens of all those plants can be obtained from the Backyard Growers’ Board. You are sooooo generous. A notebook of potential landscapes could be helpful with potential buyers increasing sales now and in years to come…Wow, what a potential!
Beautiful stuff, thanks for all you do and for sharing it.
Betty Raiford says
I have saved these for reference ideas. The plans are beautiful, but a bit too ‘formal’ for my taste. Would love to see something similar without the green lawn included. We are in an area where I’m trying to eliminate the grassy areas, due to drought conditions. Plus, I’m not a big fan of green lawns anyway. They are Ok for those who like them, but I prefer shrubs and flowers that don’t require as much water and eliminate the need for the lawn mower. I know you live in the midwest where having a good expanse of lawn isn’t such a big issue, so perhaps you don’t have any ideas for what I’m looking to do. BTW, I have a theory that my kind of landscaping plan also will eliminate a lot of need to slap misquitos! At least we don’t have nearly as many with our already limited grassy areas as our kids do with their lawns.
Do you sell small Japaneese maple trees to individuals or just large quantity to larger customers.
I personally only sell to retail customers here in Perry, Ohio. I am not shipping any plants at this time.
You need to say what zone you live in for the best suggestions.
Franny Rustand says
Absolutely Beautiful!!!! the dark mulch makes all the vibrant colors really stand out. I wish the heucheras grew in full sun here in Oklahoma.
Do all Japanese Maples grow slow? I want to have some in my yard but to get several larger ones would cost a lot.
I bought a Fire Dragon, which I am petty sure is a Japanese maple at Metro Maple here in the Dallas Fort Worth area (it might be almost impossible to get unless you live near Fort Worth). It was around 8′ tall 3 years ago and now it is about 20 feet tall. I also got 3 Bloodgoods at the home depot last fall with a 1 year guarantee and planted them. They were very large and only $90 each (close out?) plus I paid $65 for delivery as they were pretty big for my Ford Ranger (around 11′ tall in 45 gallon or larger containers). One is blooming now in late March but I am not sure that the other 2 have made it. You might want to spring for the higher price of a large tree which grows slowly. Japanese Maple tree prices have been coming down pretty fast where I live, especially at places like the Home Depot.
Sondra Heaton says
I really like the beautiful, colorful beds, but I live in the Fort Worth/Dallas TX area. The temperature really gets hot here The shrubs/flowers you use can be grown here (different varietis) but must have shade. We are in zone 7. Any suggestions for me? I want low growing shrubs but need a taller shrubs (no more than 3 ft.), a little shorter for the middle plants and dwarf shrubs for the borders. We live in a garden home that has a very small front yard.. .
Just about everything you see in my landscape can be done in zone 7 with a few adjustments. I happen to be in Louisiana at the moment and I’m surprised at how many similar plants are used in the landscape.
I also live in the DFW area. You are in zone 8. Try one of the many types of Nandina. Some are dwarf and some can get much larger but can bet trimmed to keep size down. Some have berries and some do not. Many nurseries carry several types and can help you with a selection. Goggle the internet for hundreds of pictures, etc. Several garden shows are coming in the next few weeks!
Hi Mike, We have 2.5 acres that would make a wonderful growing sight for plants. The problem is that our well water is salty. Is there anything we can do about that? Will it kill off the plants? Please advise.
I suppose it depends on how much salt is in the water. 2.5 acres is a lot to take care of.. Start with an area of 1/20th of an acre and pack it full. Much easier to take care of. You can put 5,000 plants in 1/20 acre.
Mike Smith says
Your Japanese Maples appear to get full sun. I’m in zone 7b. How do you think that would work in my landscape?
Many of my Japanese maples are shaded by the house. Some in the morning, some in the afternoon. Some do get full sun. Small Japanese maples really need some shade but the larger ones do okay in the sun.
Here in the Dallas Fort Worth area (zone 8) there is a man who is into Japanese maples in a big way! He has run Metro Maples (metromaples.com) for many years and I have got several varieties from him. His Fire Dragon has done very well for me and will take a lot of sun. He developed this tree and I am pretty sure has patented it. You probably cannot get one without driving to Texas but his website lists dozens of Japanese maples with characteristics like sun tolerance, etc. You might visit his website to get some ideas. Look up the Trident maple if you can us a tree that can get very large.
Rose Johnson says
I do share your love for Japanese maples but I was excited to read about planting coral bells in the sun! Also, I cannot wait to see those azaleas in bloom. Thank you so much for all of your efforts to
Ut all this together now I have get outside to move some huecherra around!
Laura Etten says
My Harry Lauder Walking stick is a bush. Is it too late to start trimming it into a tree? It is about 5 ft. across and 4 feet tall.
Laura, It really is too late to start training your Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick into a single stem. See if you can find a small one to start training.
Looks like you have a thing for Heucheras, Mike! So do I! They make great pops of color all year long even into the winter. You have done a nice job of complimenting the colors of the JMs with the heucheras. Wish I had those finely manicured edges at my place. I can never keep up with all of mine.
Are the yellow roses Knockouts? Do they look better in the ground than they do in the pots? Yours look really nice. They look like doubles but I haven’t seen a double yellow Knockout.
No, I don’t have any Knockout roses in my landscape.