You can create a successful garden by using a well thought-out plant layout. By designing your garden with groups of plants with similar growth habits, colors, textures or growth needs you not only create interesting designs, but make maintenance easier.
There are many advantages to creating garden areas that group plants with similar growth habits or families. For example, it is practical to group azaleas, gardenias, camellias and hydrangeas in the same garden as they all need acid soil and shade. There is sufficient diversity within these varieties to create a lovely setting which will bloom for a long period of time. There are a number of other acid lovers you can pepper in to add other shapes or colors. An all acid-loving shade garden will need less care since the whole area has the same requirements.
Ponds and other water gardens force us to use plants with similar needs. Natives and drought-tolerant plantings work best with the same principle.
But you can also plant gardens of all one type of plant. Bulbs would be less successful due to the relatively short flowering habit of most bulbs when compared to the time the foliage looks less attractive. These are best inter-planted with other plants that can hide foliage when flowering is done. But daisy gardens would be a good choice as there is a wide range of daisy-flowered plants from tall sunflowers to shrubby Euonymus to colorful chrysanthemums to bright Gerbera daisies to tiny Bellis daisies. And many more. Daisies come in a huge variety of colors and forms – enough to create really interesting groupings for a plant layout.
Grass gardens also create their own ambiance. Since grasses come in so many sizes, shapes and colors, you can create a whole picture without any other types of plants. And in areas with winds, grasses sway gracefully adding motion and sound to the visual garden design.
The number of grasses is awesome. We tend to think of grass as lawn, but there are all kinds of ornamental grasses available. Although they do not have colorful flowers, some have dramatic inflorescences (seed heads) that fluff out to make splendid 2-second cat toys. Pampas grass is probably one of the best known ornamental grasses. Unfortunately, it self-seeds so readily in parts of California that it has been declared an official state pest. So make sure you buy a sterile variety like ‘Gold Band’ if this can be a problem in your area.
There are many other grasses with better manners you can try. Try the Miscanthus family of grasses for large colorful foliage in varieties with a whole variety of marvelous patterns. The fountain grasses come in reds and greens, large and small. (Watch out for the large green varieties: most self-seed like crazy all over the place!) Blue tints are available in fescues, oat and lyme grasses. And the Carix family offers grasses short or tall, curly or straight and in almost every color.
If you design a layout with these grasses in their own garden, you can create a patchwork of colors and textures. Mix evergreens with deciduous grasses for a colorful, yet wintry looking garden in the cool months. Some grasses even turn colors in the autumn. Build in paths to wander through grass gardens so you can see all the denizens. Easy to care for and graceful in breezes, a grass garden can be an experiment in delight.
So as you layout your garden design, consider creating all-of-a-kind, group gardens. They make for eye-catching designs and easy care.