Tag Archives: Lifescape Associates

Garden Focal Points: Create Visual Interest in Your Yard

Ideally, landscape design is about creating focal points in gardens and yards. The hardscape and plant materials used are carefully selected and implemented in a way that takes visitors on a visual journey.

A meandering path may lead to a quiet seating area or a water feature. Perhaps an arbor or pergola frames a carefully placed piece of garden art or sculpture. Focal points are often the difference between an average backyard and one that is remarkable.

Source: Lifescape Colorado

Source: Lifescape Colorado

Tips for Creating Focal Points in Gardens and Yards

The following tips can help you to think about how and where your Colorado landscape can benefit from a thoughtful focal point or two. As always, Lifescape is always here to assist you with your outdoor design conundrums.

Look for – and eliminate – competition. Evaluate your current landscaping to see if there is any competition in your various plant beds. You might find that a little pruning and/or transplanting is required to help your feature plants truly shine. Look for a balance between complementary colors (those that are opposite one another on the color wheel) and contrasting hues, which will also add visual interest.

Optimize your corners. What’s lurking in the corners of your yard spaces? You may find the answer is a big, fat nothing – or nothing worth speaking of, anyway. The corner is a perfect spot to add an outdoor sculpture by a local artist, from which you can compose the rest of the plant bed. They are ideal for placing small outbuildings or sheds that are painted attractively. Corners also make a wonderful niche for a seating area and perhaps an outdoor fire pit or water feature.

Plant smaller ornamental trees. Ornamental trees that do well in our Rocky Mountain climate create attractive focal points. A Wasatch maple (Acer grandidentatum) does well in drier soil while a Rocky Mountain Birch (Betula occidentalis) thrives in moist soils, perhaps the perfect host for your shade garden.

Is your landscape beginning to feel more like a hodgepodge than a well-planned living canvas? Contact Lifescape Colorado and we’ll help to highlight its natural focal points.

Colorful Container Plants for Your Spring Garden

Need some colorful garden fantasies to help while away these grayer winter days? Get out your scratch paper and begin sketching the plans for colorful container designs that will add instant color to your spring gardens. We love container gardens here at Lifescape Colorado; they’re beautiful, portable (helpful when late spring storms arise) and also offer a fun and creative way to add focal points to your outdoor landscape.

Colorful Container Plants for Spring Gardens

When choosing colorful container plants for your spring garden, make sure to pay attention to:

  • The plants’ heights/widths
  • Foliage versus bloom colors
  • Growth direction (is it an upright stalk or more of a draper?)

This will yield containers that are well balanced, so each plant has its own space to shine.

Here are three container plants that will add interest to your spring garden as well as some creative container ideas for their display.

Source: Lifescape Colorado

Source: Lifescape Colorado

  1. Snapdragons. This is a perky, upright grower and snapdragons can be found in practically any shade you desire, as well as a few different bloom shapes. They prefer the sunnier side of life. If well-cared for, you might even be able to coax snapdragons through a hot summer and into the fall. They make a great center-piece in your container, surrounding by lower or draping plants around the edges.
  2. Petunias. There are many reasons to love petunias, from their bright and bold color displays to the way they attract beautiful moths after dark. Look how the red, pink and purple petunias contrast with this green-blue vessel. Once the sun sets, safety lighting built-in to the hardscaping will attract beautiful moths to their blooms. You can also keep it simple by using a monochromatic palette, like we did with this container arrangement.
  3. Flowering Kale and Cabbages. Since spring weather can be touch and go, flowering kale and cabbages are a safe and colorful bet for containers because they can tolerate colder temperatures. Use them for lower-profile areas and keep an eye out for ornamental varieties that add reds, pinks and whites.

    Source: Wikimedia

    Source: Wikimedia

Don’t let your creativity end with the plant selections. The containers you select are just as important as the blooms and dimensions you create inside them. Rather than purchasing new pots and vessels, we recommend looking around or shopping at thrift stores for unique items that can be converted into containers. Just about anything can be re-purposed into a container if you put your artistic mind to it.

Lifescape is here whether you would like help designing your containers or to provide regular maintenance so they look their best year-round. Contact us to schedule a consultation.

LED Lighting to High “Light” Your Garden & Landscape

Energy-conscious homeowners have already made the switch to more efficient interior lighting sources but many are slow to follow suit with their exterior lights. LED lighting for gardens and landscapes is a cost-efficient and sustainable way to provide ample task and mood lighting while simultaneously reducing energy consumption.

Add LED Lighting to “Light” Your Gardens and Landscapes

Source: Lifescape Colorado

Source: Lifescape Colorado

Planning to make the “switch” from traditional to LED lighting options for your Colorado landscape design? Here are some facts to “spark” your inspiration:

  • LED lights consume up to 75 percent less energy than halogen or incandescent versions.
  • The average lifespan of a high-quality LED fixture is 12 to 14 years.
  • With the use of timers and/or photocells, you’ll glean approximately 40,000 hours of light from your fixtures (that’s about 1,667 days or 4.5 straight years of light!).

Use the following suggestions to facilitate the conversion to LEDs in your garden landscapes.

  1. Take a step-by-step approach. LED lights are a more expensive initial investment, but the expenses are recouped, and then some, via lower electric bills and significantly fewer bulb and fixture changes over the years. There is no need to replace everything all at once; instead, create a multi-step approach, replacing the fixtures one area or need at a time over the course of a year or several seasons.
  2. Go big with the transformer. You always want to be thinking ahead, so use a larger transformer than you require now, so you can continue adding to your lighting plan as needed in the future. Consider buying a transformer that can handle at least two to three times the wattage you need now. You only pay for the electricity you use, and the extra watts will come in handy later on.
  3. Buy the highest quality fixtures you can afford. It’s tempting to opt for the greatest savings, but this isn’t the wisest course of action if it means purchasing new fixtures every few years or more. Scale back your LED replacement plan if needed, so you can always purchase the highest-quality fixtures to yield the optimal return on your investment.

    Source: Pegasus Lighting

    Source: Pegasus Lighting

Schedule a consultation with Lifescape Colorado to begin transitioning your lights to energy-efficient LED alternatives. We can assess your current outdoor lighting plan and help you to design a multi-tiered approach in alignment with the way your family uses your outdoor living spaces. Contact us to learn more.

Creating Privacy with Foliage & Shrubs

Fences and screens are typically the first options homeowners envision when it comes to creating privacy around and within their property. While fences can be an attractive option, they’re also expensive and an unsustainable solution for the long term.

Foliage and shrubs, however, can provide desired privacy with the added benefits of shade, movement, scent, cooler summertime temperatures, and a backdrop for watching birds and other wildlife in your yard.

Tips for Creating Privacy with Foliage and Shrubs

Source: Lifescape Colorado

Source: Lifescape Colorado

If you’re ready to add a little privacy while simultaneously gaining a greener view, the following tips will help you create a bit of solitude using foliage and shrubs.

Evaluate your needs. Maybe you want to mitigate the glare from exterior lights or desire a sound buffer between your home and a busy street. Often, homeowners want to create a secluded spot in their own backyard – less visible from the main seating and activity areas. Knowing what you want to gain from your living boundaries will determine which trees and shrubs will work best. Shrubs like privet form a dense formal boundary. Tall, narrow evergreens form barriers that can legally grow taller than most building codes permit for fence lines. If space is an issue, smaller trees pruned and trained to an espalier are an eye-catching option.

Select plants for the look you want. Do you enjoy the formal look of a traditional English garden or is your look more casual? Your living borders can have a very structured look, such is the case when you plant more formal hedges and shrubs like boxwood (Buxus spp), privet (Ligustrum spp), or yew (Taxus spp). If you prefer a more casual or wild look, you can use these to form the primary border and then augment them with more free-form trees, shrubs, and perennials, keeping year-round interest in mind.

Consider maintenance requirements. While most hedges and narrow evergreens will require regular pruning and shaping, other perennial plants and shrubs will not. Select plants that match your level of maintenance enthusiasm. The Lifescape team is always available to shape and prune living boundaries for you.

Are you looking forward to trading boring fences for more attractive living options? Let Lifescape help to design and implement live privacy and landscape divisions using foliage and shrubs that will last for decades.

Integrate Aromatic Plants Into Your Landscape

Landscape design is a holistic endeavor, orchestrated to provide stimulation and pleasure for all of the senses. Often, amateur designers place the largest emphasis on looks, without taking the other senses into consideration. With the right attention to detail, you can integrate landscaping elements that provide pleasing sounds, tangible delights, fruits, and vegetables to please the palate, as well as herbs and blooms that integrate pleasing aromas.

Plant These Aromatic Plants for Gardens and Landscapes

Every time the breeze blows or a flower opens you have the opportunity to enjoy intoxicating fragrances – compliments of Mother Nature. Here are some recommendations for plants to add to your landscape in order to reap rewarding aromatic benefits. Remember to keep wind direction in mind to guide their scent, whether it be towards an open bedroom window on a summer evening or to infuse a favorite outdoor seating area.

Source: Lifescape Colorado

Source: Lifescape Colorado

Lavender. Lavender is hardy, withstands Colorado winters, and thrives in dry climates. Its blooms are both colorful and aromatic, and they’re celebrated worldwide in their dried state. Just a few plants will add lavender’s calming scent to your garden spaces. An added bonus are the bees and other pollinators that will buzz and fly about, taking advantage of its pollen.

Source: Wikimedia

Source: Wikimedia

Rosemary. A staple in most kitchen gardens, rosemary plants do well in arid climates but aren’t fans of the cold. For this reason, you’re better off planting rosemary in portable containers that you can protect and insulate from the harshest winter weather. They are pretty hardy, so a few days indoors or in a decently-lit garage shouldn’t hurt them. In addition to their outdoor aroma, you’ll enjoy the addition of fresh-cut sprigs for your kitchen recipes.

Roses. No list of aromatic plants would be complete without a nod to roses. Examples that thrive in Colorado include two native varieties, such as Rosa woodsii and Rosa acicularis as well as species that have adapted to our climate, like Rosa Sydonie and a climbing rose called Paul’s Himalayan Musk. Roses are typically higher maintenance, so hire a professional maintenance team if you aren’t a consummate gardener.

Source: Wikimedia

Source: Wikimedia

Other beautifully scented flowering plants include chocolate daisies and creeping phlox. Of course, many conifers release a lovely scent when warmed by the sun, as do sweet aslyssum, bouncing bets, honeysuckle, and wisteria.

Would you like to design and grow a garden that integrates aromatic plants into your landscape? Contact Lifescape Colorado and schedule a consultation. We are here to assist you create, cultivate and maintain an extra-sensory landscape experience.