Summer is here! And if you’re anything like me, you’re probably excited to dive into a few simple landscaping and small yard projects that you can do in a few hours or less. I’m all about bite-sized, manageable projects. Take on something too daunting and you could end up with a bunch of half-finished landscaping projects and a yard that looks worse than before.
The majority of these projects can be done with common yard tools such as a garden rake, a hoe and a long-handled and short-handed shovel. You’ll have to hit up a garden store to get the plants unless you are moving shrubs or plants already in your yard.
Planting low-maintenance plants and shrubs
This is one of the easier projects and requires the least amount of upkeep as all of my suggestions are super-low maintenance and really just require occasional pruning if noted. For the most part, we get enough rain to water the plants throughout the spring, summer and fall.
If you want to plant a bush or shrub in an area where there is grass, use your hoe and shovel to remove the circular section of grass and rake through the soil so it’s not packed together. Dig a hole large enough for the plant’s roots. Once the shrub or bush is planted, I’d suggest putting mulch around it to help keep weeds back and help retain moisture. Plus, it looks nice. You’ll still have to weed a bit but the mulch will help.
As for what plants are inexpensive and easy to maintain, I’d go with Forsythia (yellow flowers in early spring), Hosta, Butterfly Bush, Rose of Sharon, Mountain Laurel, Rhododendron, Lilac, Lavender. Many of the aforementioned are perennials and will come back every year and only require minimal (if any) pruning to stay in tip-top shape. Be sure to follow any directions if there are specific instructions about how to maintain the shrub after its first planted.
If you want to get fancy and really pull the garden together, you could easily put edging around the mulch using pavers or bricks.
Utilizing vertical space for small properties
If you don’t have a lot of space on your property, you’ll probably want to utilize as much vertical space as possible. I’d suggest getting or making a nice trellis and then putting in a spot so that it’s either close to the house or leaning against something so it’s supported.
Honeysuckle, roses, grapes and wisteria are great for trellises. Once you put the plant in the ground, you’ll have to “train” the vines to grow up the trellis by using twist ties to gently hold the vines onto the trellis at first. Eventually, the vines will grow onto and wind around the trellis. This can also be done with an arbor or small decorative fence around the yard.
Install a walkway in yard or around a garden
I’d suggest using square pavers to make an easy walkway that will eventually settle into the grass around it so that it’s just about level with the ground. You can do fancy walkways where you put different shaped pavers together and make it sidewalk-width, but I promised these projects would be easy enough to tackle on a Saturday afternoon.
Unless you have square pavers sitting around, you’ll have to hit a Home Depot to get as many as you think you’ll need. If the pavers are about 10 to 12 inches, I’d say leave about three inches space between. Again, you’ll have to use the hoe or shovel to cut out portions of the grass so you can install the pavers right into the dirt.
At first, the pavers might stand off the ground a bit so walkers will have to step from paver to paver so as to not trip but as time goes on, the pavers will settle into the ground and should be fairly level with the grass. Walking on the pavers will help keep the grass green, happy and healthy.
For landscaping inspiration for other potential projects, drive down Beach Street in Westerly, wander around the neighborhoods in Watch Hill, explore Wilcox Park and take a jaunt down my favorite street in town: Newton Ave. You’re sure to find a few ideas for your own property.
Once you have all the tools you need, each of these projects can be done in an afternoon. Again, as I said in my last article on planting a vegetable garden, if you’re looking for places for professional gardening advice or want to get vegetable plants, seeds, soil, mulch, compost, garden tools and more, stop in at:
Agway, 31 Friendship Street
Pleasant Acres Nursery, 130 Franklin Street
Broadview Florist and Garden Center, 5 Langworthy Road