My Favorite Dwarf Shrubs to Use in Durham Gardens

If you asked me what types of plants are most commonly used in my landscape designs, the answer would be dwarf shrubs.  The reason is simple – they will fit almost anywhere!  Most clients have at least one area of their property that is constrained – the distance between the front of the house and the walkway is a common example.  A mixed bed of dwarf shrubs tends to be the perfect solution – the plants are small enough that I can use multiple varieties for interest without creating a bed that will be overgrown in the future.  Read on to learn about some of my favorite varities.

Ilex crenata ‘Soft Touch’ – Soft Touch Japanese Holly
Ilex crenata ‘Soft Touch’ – Soft Touch Japanese Holly

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Low Maintenance Landscaping – Does it Really Exist and How to Design for it?

One thing I’ve learned over my 7 years of working as a landscape designer is that no one is looking for a high maintenance garden.  Another thing I’ve learned is that every garden requires maintenance and you should plan for it as part of an effective landscape design.  Read on to learn more about my tips for planning for and managing garden maintenance.

A Gardeners Biggest Challenge – Weeds

Ostrich Fern
A Dense Planting of Ostrich Fern

Managing weeds is the most important component of maintaining any garden because once a garden is overgrown with weeds it takes a lot of work to get it looking maintained again.  There are multiple approaches to managing weeds – you can pull them (lots of work) or spray them (effective but undesirable to some people).  Another approach is to use plants that can compete with weeds in your most challenging areas.  I’ve done this successfully on my property by using an aggressive native plant – ostrich fern.  I put it in shady areas prone to weeds, and it has definitely cut down on the amount of weed pulling I have to do.

Managing Leaf Removal

Bag of Leaves
Bagging Leaves is a Lot of Work in the Fall

Leaf removal is another big maintenance issue for my clients, and while fall is a great time to be outside, raking leaves is not a fun project for most people.  While I can’t cut down on the amount of leaves that fall, I can help my clients with a better way of managing their leaves.  One option is to add a dense evergreen planting at the edge of the woods.  In addition to defining the separation between a more maintained lawn area and a less maintained woodland, the evergreens can also create a barrier to blow leaves behind, giving them a place to be composted on site.

Need help designing a beautiful garden that is also low maintenance? Landscape design and installation are our expertise, and we are always happy to meet with new clients to discuss potential projects! Contact Bright Leaf Landscaping at 919-619-4460 or fill out our online contact form.

Colorful Fruit for Every Season

Landscape Design Can Include Colorful Fruit for Every Season
One of my favorite ways to add seasonal color to a landscape is to incorporate fruit bearing plants. This is also a great way to invite wildlife, such as birds. One consideration is proper placement of fruiting trees. You want to avoid planting near walkways, patios, or parking areas to prevent messy litter. Read on to see which plants I suggest for the seasons.

Ilex verticillata ‘Sparkleberry’ Keeps Birds Fed in the Winter
Ilex verticillata ‘Sparkleberry’ Continue reading Colorful Fruit for Every Season

Three New Cultivars I am Trying and Why

One of the great benefits of my job is access to a ton of interesting plants from our growers.  I recently had some large Leyland Cypress come down on my neighbor’s property, with the result that my front yard gets a lot more light, and I have a bit more space to add some new plants.  Read on to learn about three exciting new cultivars I’ve added to my garden.

Magnolia grandiflora ‘Teddy Bear’ – Teddy Bear Magnolia

Teddy Bear Magnolia

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December – Plants that look great in Christmas Lights

I love the holiday season and start decorating sometime between Halloween and Thanksgiving each year.  While I love getting my house ready for the season, I also really enjoy seeing what my neighbors are doing to decorate their yards.  Read on to learn how to incorporate Christmas lights into your landscape.

If you’ve got mature conifers planted in your yard chances are good that you’ve got a great place to put some lights.  Pyramidal conifers such as Dwarf Alberta Spruce, Japanese Cedar, and even Leyland Cypress look great in holiday lights, and depending on their size, can make a huge statement in the winter garden.

tree

(Pyramidal conifers in lights)

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Interesting Evergreens for the Winter Garden in Raleigh

As the leaves fall my focus shifts from beautiful fall color to plants that stay evergreen year round. While many evergreens are used simply as background plants to keep gardens from looking bare, or to provide year round screening, there are some uniquely interesting evergreens that can be added to your garden. Read on to learn about two.

Pinus thunbergii ‘Thunderhead’ – Thunderhead Pine

Thunderhead Pine for Use in a Winter Garden in Raleigh

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Creating a Strong Plant Combination

For the past few years I’ve taught a class at Duke Gardens that focuses on Creating a Colorful Mixed Border. I really enjoy the chance to work with other gardeners and share my experiences on designing a strong plant combination. And, preparing the presentation each year makes me think about my own design process and what I feel is the most effective way to design. Read on to learn more about my process. Continue reading Creating a Strong Plant Combination