Now is the time to take advantage of the late summer sun and the warm soil temperatures to do late-season landscaping, and two local gardeners have created inspiring touches that personalize their outdoor spaces.
You don't need a degree in horticulture to get your plan rolling.
Shelley Coopshaw of Blissfield, Mich., has been digging in her backyard plan for years. And she likes to build personal touches into her plan. ' I started messing with my yard when my boys were very little, and now it has turned into an addiction,' she said.
Most of her garden training is in the school of trial and error.
'I just started the old-fashioned way of learning through friends and books. I try not to really view anything as a true failure but instead [as] a learning experience.'
The backbone of Ms. Coopshaw's landscape plan is utilitarian. She has renovated a small pond into a 16-by-20-foot pond with two waterfalls. One side is landscaped with native plants, including blackeyed Susans, coneflower, four o'clocks, and hen and chicks. The other end of the pond is a butterfly and hummingbird garden with bee balm, butterfly bushes, mock sunflowers, and lobelia.
'I like plants that are hardy and will hold their color,' she said. 'Bee Balm is one of my favorite perennials because it also smells great and has a bright red color.'
Ms. Coopshaw added a bit of whimsy to her landscape plan this year.
'I have a new barn wood outhouse complements of my son, Tyler, and husband, Roger. It stores my gardening supplies and it is nestled right next to our koi pond. I also saved my son's first wheelbarrow from when he was a toddler. He's 23 now, and his old play toy makes a great planter,' she said.
In one area of the garden, she has easily personalized the landscape by painting everyone's names on the larger rocks. 'It's a great stroll down memory lane every time I water the garden,' she said.
Cynthia Poe has created some outdoor rooms in her Toledo landscape.
'The house is a 1950s modern glass Scholz home,' she said. 'It was the designer's model house built on a corner lot to promote the then-new Lincolnshire neighborhood, just west of Westgate. It belonged to my husband's parents, and now to him. I came on the scene recently, since we are still sort-of newlyweds.'
She wanted to let her husband, Gary Levey, relax in the yard rather than spend his leisure time mowing.
'His favorite leisure activity was to visit the Metroparks and enjoy the open fields, undulating tree lines, and forest paths, so I started creating a plan to get rid of some of the large chunks of lawn.'
Building a large maintenance-free ivy bed was one of her first projects. Ms. Poe included a square of pachysandra and an herb checkerboard. The ivy takes up one large corner of the lot and the colorful pachysandra fills in a large wedge between the ivy and a band of wildflowers.
The lesson to learn from this layout is to use multiples of the same plant in a design. Always use odd numbers, like five, seven, or nine plants. This will give an area a pop of color and it will look like it was designed that way on purpose, instead of just plopping plants anywhere there was a bare spot in the lawn.
A simple straight hedge would have been boring in the Poes' yard, so Cynthia came up with a curved edge planted with yews. Behind it, she filled in with fertile myrtle also known as vinca minor.
The entire yard isn't just for looks. The Poes have also planted an herb garden outside the back door and a vegetable bed near the yew hedge to take advantage of the sun in their yard.
And a quiet sitting area in the back of the property has become one of her favorite spots.
'We also have a woodland area with Carolina allspice, Spicebush, woodland wildflowers, and a hidden room' which my neighbor calls the Coffee Nook,' Ms. Poe said.