Friday, May 25, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Amy Stone

Getting landscape to rock out

I am in love. There is something about that strong, silent type that draws me in. Sturdy, rough around the edges and sometimes stubborn: All qualities I just can’t resist.

OK, enough of the puns. It’s not another man. I am in love with the landscape rocks in my front landscape. My gardening friend, Debbie Genter, sparked my idea with a dozen landscape beds built around rock formations in her Onsted, Mich., garden. She has created layers of raised beds with all sizes of rocks.

Starting with huge boulders to create a focal point, Mrs. Genter builds smaller nooks at the base of the large rocks and tucks in some of her favorite colorful perennials. “I just love all rocks. When I see them, I start to think about where I can put them in our garden,” she said. This rustic garden style blends well with her log home and gives her plenty of places to create new punches of color around her yard.

“I also like to play with different types of mulch. We use different colors of rock mulch and wood chips to separate the flowerbeds. It is really fun,” she said.

Property upgrades

Mrs. Genter’s bold hardscape design can be a good idea if you are looking to do some property upgrades around your yard. This helps if you are thinking of selling your home soon, or if you want to boost your current property value. The first thing to do is to figure out how much money you can set aside for a project. Don’t deplete your budget, but give the project enough to make it worthwhile. You can do a lot with a few hundred dollars. You can do some amazing things with a few thousand.

Less than $500 plan

If you can scrape together a few hundred dollars, focus on the entrance of your home. Clean up any weeds around the front door, along the sidewalk or any areas that someone would see as they walk up to your front door. Walk up to your front door just like your neighbor would and get rid of things that look cluttered and overgrown. This kind of preparation doesn’t cost money. It just takes muscle.

If you have an old landscape, it is time to get rid of some of those scrubby shrubs. Once you get the space cleared and all of the debris hauled off to the compost pile, you can come up with a new plan. Get your landscape plan out of your garden journal and take a look at your overall design. Redraw this specific area and draw in the plants and shapes you think you will need. Taller plants near the house, shorter ones at least three feet or so from the foundation.

Don’t ignore the mailbox at the end of your driveway. Sometimes this is the first thing people see when they pull up to your house. Decorate the base of it with annuals and consider growing some sort of flowering vine like clematis to greet your guests.

Think about timing for blooms and use at least half of your budget on plants that will last for years like flowering shrubs, substantial edging and other hardscapes like trellises or arbors. Use the remaining budget on smaller perennials with unique foliage, pops of color all at different heights. Fill in the bare spots with the jewels of the garden, annuals.

Contact Kelly Heidbreder at

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