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Inspiration: Garden Serenity

By Ed Ball | Published on June 05, 2020 | 3 min read

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As I drive throughout Northern Virginia, I’m inspired by all the homeowners investing time and resources in making their gardens more beautiful this spring.

Of course, this is partially a product of all of us spending more time at home, yet I see people truly enjoying their yards in all-new ways. We’ve had enough rain to make everything lush and green – just like the Mid-Atlantic should be this time of year!

By now, most people have tackled the maintenance projects and are ready for inspiration. The mulch is in, vegetable gardens are planted, and pesky weeds are mostly under control. So what’s next? How do you take your landscape to the next level to create the serene spaces we all crave?

Luckily, there are many ways you can next-level your yard, whether you want to do it yourself or take on a major renovation. Here are a few ideas to jumpstart your creativity.


Carve Out Your Zen

Some people dream of starting the day with a cup of coffee in a quiet section of their yard listening to the variety of birds in our region. Others crave a secluded space to read a book or enjoy an afternoon nap. Whatever your goals, start by identifying a space in your yard that you would like to designate as your relaxation zone. Next, assess what this space needs in order to create your vision. Does it need a cafe table and chairs? Would a rustic bench be just right? Or will you hang a hammock? Everyone has their own answers.

Once you’ve taken the first step, other improvement ideas often will come to mind. For instance, if you want to add privacy, some potted shrubs may provide the instant seclusion you desire. Perhaps you envision creating a small patio … creating a secret garden … surrounding yourself in wisteria … the possibilities are truly endless!


Birds, Bees, and Butterflies

We typically want more of a good thing and that means attracting birds, bees, and butterflies to your yard. You don’t need to be a beekeeper or an ornithologist to provide sanctuary and nourishment to Mother Nature’s clever creatures. The “three Bs” need sources of fresh water that can come in the form of a birdbath, fountain, or even a simple tray of water.

Of course, birds can be enticed to visit with feeders filled with food specific to the birds you’d like to attract, and there are many solutions for keeping the squirrels out of the bird food. All three will benefit from native plantings, not only for food, but also for shelter and safety from natural predators. Butterflies and hummingbirds share some favorite plants, for example, and many of those plants are easily integrated into your current landscape. If you are feeling particularly ambitious, design a garden you can see from your home so you can enjoy watching the colorful show.


Soothing Sounds

Aside from the natural sounds of birds, frogs, and animals, you may also add sounds to create a serene environment. Wind chimes range from natural-sounding bamboo to decorative glass or other finely tuned instruments. But by far, the sound most coveted is a garden with falling water.

Whether it’s a tabletop fountain or a waterfall cascading into a well-planted pond, water features bring relaxing sounds to the garden and provide water to natural inhabitants. Today, garden centers sell all sorts of complete kits to bring instant water features and small ponds into the yard for DIY homeowners who want a piece of tranquility.

Don’t be surprised if a small pond leaves you wanting more. We see many people start small only to imagine a larger water feature or pool to enjoy!


Pass the Marshmallows

When night falls, the allure of the fire pit is irresistible. From portable fire pits available at garden and home improvement stores to permanent, built-in designs, fire pits and outdoor fireplaces create an inviting place to gather in the fading light. Portable fire pits are also a great way to see how a permanent feature will look in your landscape and give you a chance to get the design just right before committing to a larger project.

No matter what you choose, there is a wide range of options to make your yard a soothing oasis and welcoming respite from the chaos of the outside world.