6. Understand Garden Art. Garden art can serve as focal points that stop the eye from wandering around the garden. Place the artwork where it can call attention to a particularly nice plant. The strategy also can work in reverse. Here,
an ‘Osakazuki’ Japanese maple, iris, and golden fern draw attention to the graceful bronze cranes that otherwise might visually fade into the lily pond.
Bonus Tip: If you want an object to serve as a focal point, avoid placing it too low. To make it a true feature that will garner attention from a distance, set the object at eye level. Set smaller objects on pedestals.
7. Keep It In Scale. You wouldn’t hang a tiny painting on a huge blank wall, nor would you take up an entire wall of a breakfast nook with
a huge painting. Give the same consideration to structures and plants in your garden. A small footbridge lends a comfortable sense of human scale to the garden surrounding this modest cottage. Similarly, trees and shrubs are smaller in size.
Bonus Tip: Control the scale of your garden by researching mature height and spread of plants before purchase rather than buying unruly plants that will need constant pruning.
8. Invite Guests: Create a welcoming entrance by clearly defining the path to the front door. Use color, texture, fragrance, and even sound from trickling water or swishing grasses. Homeowners
can create an inviting entrance
by adding a front yard of petunias, zinnias, and Artemisia paired with flagstone paving that gently leads visitors to a new front porch sheltered by an arbor.
Bonus Tip: Avoid using plants with thorns and spines near an entrance. Even if they are planted a safe distance from paths, they can present a subtly inhospitable appearance.
9. Use Grass: wisely. Fall landscapes get a lot of visual help from peaking ornamental grasses. But if you use too many in
the same area, they tend to blend together and
look flat. Set them apart by pairing with nongrasses. Here fountaingrass (Pennisetum alopecuroides) and Eulalia grass (Miscanthus sinensis) are given needed breathing space by asters and irises.
Bonus Tip: Many ornamental grasses will benefit from a contrasting background. This is especially useful when backing grasses with wispy seed heads that would otherwise get lost at a distance.
10. Tame the Beast. You don’t have to cultivate every square inch of your property. You might maintain a small, shipshape bed close to home and farther afield loosen up with a more naturalistic garden. This courtyard maintains a tidy look with gravel paving, boxwood edging, and dwarf apple trees. It opens to a forest of native plantings just beginning to sport their fall colors.
Bonus Tip: To save on your budget, create a private courtyard with carefully sited sections of walls, fences, and hedges rather than a solid perimeter. The area will seem less confining as well.
11. Structure It. Whether they’re gazebos, walls and fences, or more subtle benches and trellises, structures provide substance. Without them, a garden can lack a sense of permanence. Use structures to create bones for planting beds, flowing streams, rolling lawns, and natural areas. Here rot-resistant black locust fence posts, linked with chain, create a boundary that is practical yet aesthetic.
Bonus Tip: Try to keep the amount of paving on your property to less than 10 percent. More than that gives the unfriendly impression of too much hardscape, informal studies have shown.
12. Consider the View. Move tables, chairs, hammocks, and any other furniture that isn’t bolted down to take advantage of the ever-changing scenery around your garden. Place them near blazing fall foliage where you can soak up the season. Even small objets d’art can be shifted to a different location to highlight a plant that is at its peak.
Bonus Tip: Container plants also can be cycled in and out when they are at their best. Nurseries use this marketing ploy all the time. Put your best containers up front where they can be seen.
13 Frame Things Up. Frame an inviting garden scene with an arbor, pergola, or even plants with a strong architectural quality. In this instance, an arbor clad in clematis and anchored by towering Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium purpureum) frames a curving boardwalk and the feathery blooms of Miscanthus sinensis ‘Blondo’. The disappearing path invites visitors to explore.
Bonus Tip: Don’t let your arbor stand alone. Anchor it with plantings. You might select an evergreen vine to clothe it during winter and lace a deciduous vine through it to add another period of bloom.
14. Repeat Yourself. Following a color theme helps lend continuity to
a garden. This busy perennial border is organized by repeating the purple foliage of fountaingrass
(Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’) and crimson barberry (Berberis thunbergii), along with asters and verbena. The colors don’t need to match exactly, but they should be in the same family.
Bonus Tip: To capture the resplendent beauty of grasses and fall foliage of deciduous plants, locate them west of a window, where they will be backlit by a sunset, or to the east to be highlighted by the sunrise.
15. Think Touchable. For a more intriguing design with depth, juxtapose plants with a variety of textures. Select plants with large, thick, round foliage with a coarse appearance. Mix
in plants with spikes of long, thin leaves as well
as plants with lacy, fine foliage. If you don’t make
a conscious effort to vary the texture, you’ll likely wind up with a garden that looks flat and ho-hum.
Bonus Tip: Use texture to create a subtle optical illusion. The eye perceives smaller objects as distant. Plant an abundance of fine-texture plants at the back of your garden to make it appear larger.