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Planning and Designing an All-Season Landscape

Imagine stepping into your yard, no matter the time of year, and being greeted by a mesmerizing tapestry of colors, scents, and textures. A garden that defies the boundaries of seasons, leaving you in awe of nature’s ever-changing beauty. If you’ve ever longed for a four-season landscape, you’ve come to the right place.

As a professional designer, I’ve been teaching home gardeners all over the world how to create these stunning outdoor spaces in my “Design Your 4-Season Garden” course since 2020. In this article, I’ll share my secrets to designing a garden that never fails to amaze, no matter the time of year or where you live.

The Benefits of an All-Season Landscape

A four-season landscape is a wonderful investment that will bring you joy, connect you with nature, and enhance the curb appeal of your home. It keeps your property interesting all the time, which means you’ll use and appreciate your landscape more often throughout the year.

Whether it’s the vibrant colors of blooming flowers in spring, the buzzing activity of birds and pollinators in summer, the cozy atmosphere created by autumn foliage, or the evergreen beauty in winter, there’s always something to enjoy. These gardens are often also wildlife-friendly, providing a welcoming environment for birds, pollinators, and Mother Nature to thrive.

One of the coolest things about a four-season landscape is that your garden can change as the seasons unfold. With proper planning, you’ll learn exactly how to select plants and design elements that shine throughout the year. A well-maintained four-season garden can also increase your property value, as a thoughtfully designed garden adds curb appeal and makes your home more attractive to potential buyers.

The Planning Process

Effective planning is the key to success in any endeavor, and designing a four-season landscape is no exception. These landscapes have a lot of moving parts, so planning is essential. By investing time and energy in the planning stage, you can create a landscape that seamlessly transitions from season to season.

To get started, I suggest hiring a landscape designer to create a plan for you at this stage. But you can also DIY this step if you’re ambitious and willing to learn. Either way, I’ve created my “Plant Perfect Activity Book” to help you with this process. It takes you through the landscape design process in a fun and engaging way, so it doesn’t become too overwhelming.

If you plan to hire a landscape designer, this book will help you develop a strong vision to discuss with your designer. If you plan to DIY your own plan, this book guides you through each and every step, even designing a plan.

Establishing the Structure and Bones

When designing your landscape plan, there are two major elements in creating structure and bones: hardscaping and structural plants.

Hardscaping

Hardscaping will hold your entire landscape together, even if there are no plants or if nothing is blooming. Hardscaping includes all of the permanent, intentional pieces of your landscape, such as patios, pathways, arbors, gazebos, pergolas, focal points, and other structures. Strategically placed rocks and boulders can also add structure and winter interest.

The term “hardscaping” also refers to the types of materials you’ll choose, whether that’s stone, wood, concrete, iron, brick, or something else. This is where it gets fun – you’ll start making decisions that will make your landscape uniquely you.

Structural Plants

While many people will stop at the hardscaping and then get straight to planting, you need both hardscaping and strong structural plants to make your four-season landscape work. The next important consideration for the structure and bones of your landscape is to select plants for winter interest.

Evergreens are the most obvious winter-interest plants, as they will keep their foliage and color all year long. Some of my favorite evergreens are conifers like pine trees and other shrubs like boxwood, yew, and holly. You may also want to consider evergreens with colorful foliage, like the Gold Mop Cypress or Golden Globe Arborvitae.

Beyond evergreen trees and shrubs, you can also choose plants with structural interest for the winter months. Think about plants with gorgeous bark, beautiful branching patterns, or interesting seed heads and berries. Ornamental grasses and sedges can also add movement and life to your winter landscape.

Layering for Seasonal Interest

Once your structure and bones are in place, you can start choosing plants for the other seasons. One of the keys to designing a four-season landscape is to choose a variety of plant types. When you’re trying to achieve color and interest in every single season, you can’t just select one or two plants.

The best way I’ve found to accomplish this is to choose a variety of different plant types, then mix these plants together in your borders. This starts with the “Garden Pyramid,” where you need to have a mix of trees, evergreen shrubs, deciduous shrubs, perennials, and annuals.

By arranging these plant types into layers, you’ll create that beautiful mixed border look you’ve been dreaming about. The key to a landscape that changes throughout the season is to select plants with multi-season interest, then fill in with seasonal plant groupings and extend bloom times with my bloom sequencing tips.

Today’s Gardens can help you achieve your dream of an all-season landscape. Their team of experts specializes in creating custom, sustainable outdoor spaces that perfectly blend aesthetics and functionality to suit your unique preferences.

Selecting the Right Plants

When trying to do so much in a small amount of space, it’s best to select plants with multi-season interest. The second-best option is to select long-blooming plants. These are the plants that will give you the most bang for your buck.

Some of the longest-blooming perennials in my own garden include Echinacea, Gaillardia, Nepeta, and Salvia. By creating groupings of these long-blooming plants that have a specific season of interest, you’ll have different areas of your landscape that have really strong interest and beauty throughout the year.

Don’t forget about annuals, too. While they require a little extra maintenance, annuals can be a great way to create continuous color and carry your four-season landscape through the lower points of the season.

Putting It All Together

Designing a four-season landscape that looks great all year starts with the structure and bones of your garden. Create a garden plan and focus on hardscaping as well as evergreens and plants for winter interest. Next, choose a variety of plant types using the Garden Pyramid as your guide, and arrange these plants into layers to create that beautiful mixed border look.

The key to a landscape that changes throughout the season is to select plants with multi-season interest. Then fill in with seasonal plant groupings and extend bloom times with my bloom sequencing tips. Fill in with annuals to keep the color coming all year long.

It may seem like a lot of steps, but with the right framework and process, you can create a four-season landscape that will bring you joy and enhance the beauty of your home for years to come. So why not get started on your dream garden today?

Today’s Garden is Garden and Landscape Company, provides all you need about Garden and Landscape Design to get better garden decorations.

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