Today I am going to share with you the structural plants in my home garden and five tips I’ve learned by working with my formal garden.
Let me first disclose that I am a novice gardener who learns by making many mistakes. Not to say that it’s a bad thing. Making mistakes has enlightened my understanding of plant care. Now I have a little gardening wisdom under my belt to share with you!
Perhaps you are wondering…what is a formal garden? Essentially it’s a garden filled with plants (mainly shrubs, hedges, and trees) that create structure and form in a garden. Typically you will see long hedges creating “walls” or “rooms” or borders creating privacy. There can also be accent plants in the form of flowering trees and plants and topiary shrubs.
One of the earliest things I’ve learned about gardening is it’s a never ending process. It can be frustrating at times when the fruits of your labor don’t always come to fruition. Plants can be a little like children…you can nurture them, water them, send them out into the sunshine for some fresh air, and in the end, instead of being grateful, they flop down on the ground and wait for you to drag their limp bodies out, covered in dirt!
Despite the occasional frustrations, gardening is also therapeutic and rewarding. I always feel that anything worth having is worth working for. The fruits of your labor are visible and tangible, a glorious treat for the senses!
One last tidbit I want to mention is that my house is located in a residential area where the homes are relatively close to one another. Apparently the builders wanted the home owners to get cozy and to be able to listen to each others’ backyard conversations. Obviously, my husband and I don’t mind the close proximity or we wouldn’t have moved here. However, we did want to create some semblance of privacy so we could continue to enjoy being close to our neighbors.
Alright, let’s get right into it…
Five Tips For Creating A Structural Garden:
Think about structure before the accessories.
When I refer to “accessories” I mean the smaller, accent flowers that look lovely, but really provide nothing more than being eye candy (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Flowers are like the jewelry we wear to add that something extra special, the piece de resistance, if you will!
When I first started my garden, I had visions of an assortment of flowers from all colors of the rainbow. I can get a little bit of what I refer to as tiny dog syndrome…you know, when a tiny dog gets overly excited for a little biscuit and wags its tail like it’s about to send itself towards lift off. I wanted color everywhere and didn’t think much about how we wanted our garden to function.
There was an area around our wrap around porch where we planted flowers around the perimeter, only to eventually rip them up and plant arborvitaes in their place. The reason being that we needed a way to keep dirt and leaves off our porch, as well as create a bit of privacy. As much as my little Pomeranian heart wanted a splash of color, our need for function outweighed the need for beauty.
Now that we have our arborvitaes around our porch, I actually love them so much more than the flowers since they make such a strong statement. Not to mention, I can add flowers in front of the arborvitaes if I wanted. While on the topic of privacy let me segue into my next tip….
Think about where you want to use plants for privacy.
It’s helpful to choose your large privacy plants before you plant smaller accessory flowers. I think a general rule of “larger to smaller” helps to make your garden flow better. Larger plants should go in the back creating a hedge or privacy of some sort, then smaller ones can go in front. All your lovely plants get showcased that way and you can create the privacy you want. Also, don’t forget to think about what type of plants you will be using. Deciduous trees won’t provide any privacy in the Winter, but an evergreen will.
Space plants appropriately.
Make sure you find out how big your plant is capable of growing and give it enough space to fill out. It is tempting to just plant yours shrubs or trees right next to one another in order to get immediate privacy. However, if not spaced apart appropriately, they won’t get enough sunlight and they won’t be able to grow to their full potential. All good things come to those who wait. So space the plants out according to their growth capability and your future self will be glad you did!
Don’t be afraid to prune.
Pruning plants often helps them to grow. I was really afraid to prune my boxwoods the first two years we planted them. Once I took the plunge and gave them a good prune, to my delight they filled in all the more. Do a quick Google search and see if your plants could benefit from pruning. More often than not it will help them to come back all the more robust and beautiful.
Accept that you will have dud plants.
For whatever reason, you will inevitably get at least a few insipid duds. These are the plants that peter out on you no matter how much you love and care for them. They will need to be replaced and hopefully, second times a charm for you. My husband and I have an area in our yard where we’ve had to replace the plants in that spot twice already. We currently have the third batch of these plants in there and fingers crossed, they won’t die on us. I have no idea why these plants keep dying. Maybe they aren’t getting enough water, or there is something in the soil, or that part of our yard might just be cursed (hopefully not). Just remember that sometimes plants don’t work out and you must persevere. Replace that plant because your garden will thank you ten fold when it blooms in the Spring and Summer.
I’m going to throw in one more bonus tip for good measure. Plant your plants in groups. Yes, one hydrangea looks beautiful. But a row of hydrangeas are drop dead gorgeous!
What have you learned from gardening? Do you have any favorite structural plants you use often? Please comment down below, I would love to hear about it and learn something new myself!
That’s all for now. I hope you have enjoyed reading what I have learned from my home garden. I bought this home clueless as to how to make anything grow, but I’ve actually come along way from where I started, and you will too!