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
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