Envionmental Psychology

Shape Your Environment for Happiness!


Woodland Gardens Provide Joy with Minimal Effort and Expense

Many folks long for a peaceful garden space in their backyard, but don't have the time, money, or skill to create the beautiful types of gardens they see in magazines. However, if you have a shady backyard, you still be able to achieve a peaceful space by creating a woodland garden. They're surprisingly easy to establish, and once you've got them up and running, woodland gardens often take care of themselves with relatively little further help or financial input. Here are a few tips:

Choose plants that would normally be found in the woods--plants that thrive in partial shade and relatively poor soils. The first candidate would be ferns, which will generally thrive in wooded areas with little or no site preparation or attention. After all, they've lived in wooded environments since the dinosaurs ruled the Earth.

You may need to trim the bottom limbs of your trees, to allow you to walk in your garden and to perhaps establish a sitting area, complete with garden swing, if you choose. That's the beauty of a woodland garden: you can make it as rustic and natural as you want. you're limited only by your imagination and taste.

When first establishing your woodland garden, be aware that there are four components: the ground layer, the shrub layer, the understory, and the canopy. Again, there is an informality to the woodland garden that precludes hard and fast rules, but paying attention to the four components will add interest and beauty to your space.

Most of your plants will be perennials, so they'll continue to give you pleasure in all seasons, year after year. Many people incorporate things such as deciduous trees, azaleas, rhododendrons, ferns, and other plants of various heights, textures, and colors that will add interest to the space any time of year. This is especially true with plants and trees that produce flowers or colorful berries.

Using deciduous trees allows you to gain a thick coat of compost every fall, which breaks down and fertilizes the shrubs and plants below. It also means much less work for you to keep your woodland garden going. You may also want to incorporate trees that have interesting bark, such as birch and oak. Shrubs such as red twig dogwood can also provide dramatic color in a snowy winter setting.

A woodland garden may be just what you're looking for if you don't have the time, talent, and money to establish and maintain a more "traditional" backyard garden.

Green Living with Plants

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