When you think about landscaping, are you focused on the ground? Do you think about plantings and mulch, patios and ponds? If you do, that’s a good place to start! But how often do you also look up and wonder how to landscape in that direction?
Great landscaping should be a multi-sensory, four-season, and three-dimensional experience. How you use the space above the ground is just as important as how you use the earth itself. Don’t worry, there’s no magic or science fiction involved! Just good planning and use of space.
Whether you have a small yard and want to maximize impact, a flat yard and want to make it more interesting, or any yard at all and want to get the most out of the total space you have, these ideas can help.
Take Your Patio Up
If you have a sloped yard, this can be especially helpful. Instead of thinking of your patio as a single flat expanse of stone, consider taking it in tiers.
Depending on your slope, you can go with something as simple as a two-tiered patio with a couple of steps to compensate for a gentle slope, or something as unique as a series of balcony tiers up a hillside.
But even if your yard is as flat as a pancake, a tiered patio can be quite effective. It will create individual sections where you can host different activities – think grilling vs sunbathing – and break up the monotony of all that flatness.
Enclose Open Space
Having a lovely open vista is nice, but sometimes your eye needs a break. Create visual interest by enclosing a patio or open space with landscaping elements like a bamboo screen or tall natural fencing.
Not only will this add character to your space, but it will create a much-needed sense of privacy, and create separation between areas with different functions. An enclosed space can be for personal quiet time, for private entertaining, or for a bit of garden strolling.
In small spaces, you might be surprised by how enclosing one area of your yard can make the whole seem so much larger. Instead of seeing the whole (small) space at once, your eye will be drawn from one section to another, giving the illusion of depth.
Don’t Just Add Fence – Use It!
If you’re going to add fencing, why not make it as beautiful and functional as possible? That includes landscaping right up the fence!
Add garden boxes to one side of the fence where you can plant your loveliest blooms or keep your favorite herbs. Use climbing vines and flowers to create a living wall.
Or simply use the fence as a backdrop for some of your tallest plants and shrubs, and include plants of descending height until you reach the garden border with low-profile blooms and ground cover. This tiered approach to planting will give you height, depth, color, and texture all at once.
Container gardening is a great way to add height and depth to your space. It’s also a boon for all-season gardeners who love to move plants from kitchen to patio as the weather and daylight shift.
Containers themselves come in myriad sizes, shapes and dimensions, so you can easily mix and match heights to take advantage of vertical space as well as ground space.
But why stop there? Containers are easy to move around, too, which means they can go from the ground to a bench to a table or retaining wall with one small shift. Start your vertical container garden with a foundation – whether that’s your porch steps, a series of tiered risers, a collection of differently sizes benches, or even a custom built wall.
Then arrange containers to suit the various heights and the experience you want to create.
Raise Your Beds
There’s no rule that says a garden has to be in the ground. In fact, you can create a gorgeous space with nothing planted in the ground at all. Instead, use raised planting beds on patios or natural stone to create a visually unique experience that’s a lot easier on your knees, too!
This can work especially well in a small yard by drawing the eye up and creating the illusion of additional space. In a large, flat yard, it adds a much-needed visual diversion and creates something far more compelling.
Raised beds can be tiered, too, which can make for a lovely edible garden, with tall tomato plants at the back and fresh herbs in their own individual sections up front. Add some trailing vines to the lowest tier for a truly pleasing effect.
Sometimes using vertical space is as simple as adding something to your yard that is actually tall. A pergola, gazebo, or trellis all make great options. Small yard or large, these structures can create privacy, delineate spaces, add visual interest, and even serve as a base for planting.
Trellises are the perfect choice for vertical gardens, climbing vines and hanging planters. Gazebos just beg for a bit of jasmine or wisteria, and pergolas will win on charm covered in climbing rose or honeysuckle.
The nice thing about structures is that even after the blooms have fallen from them, the remaining vines have a charm all their own. And the structures themselves continue to add height and visual interest throughout the seasons.
Get Acquainted With Grass
We’re not talking about the green lawn variety, but the ornamental grasses that are far more interesting and much lower maintenance.
Choose a variety that adds height, like Maiden Grass or Miscanthus Giganteus. These make great borders, privacy screens, and backdrops for other, lower profile plantings.
They’re also excellent friends of your four season garden. They continue to add height, texture and motion throughout the year, and can be especially effective in winter with snow falling gently on their delicate fronds.
Landscape lighting has many benefits, from creating ambiance to enhancing safety. It’s perfect for gardens, under water in ponds and waterfalls, spotlighting your house, and much more.
But if you want to take advantage of vertical space and create more visual interest in three dimensions, consider stringing lights between trees, above a patio, or from one structure to another in close proximity.
Sting lights – whether in white or color, twinkling fairy lights or bold bulbs – help create many of the effects we’ve discussed here. They can draw your eye up, giving a sense of depth and added space. They can enclose a space, creating a sense of warmth and coziness. They can delineate a space for a certain use, like entertaining. And they will set a tone for your nighttime enjoyment.
Vertical landscaping is really a matter of vision and imagination. Your yard is a blank, three dimensional canvas where you can design your dreams and then spend time enjoying them. If you’d like to explore how your outdoor space can be beautiful and functional for all seasons, in all ways, contact us for a consultation.
Whether you have a small yard or sprawling space, beach home or woodland garden, flat ground or steep slope, sun, shade, or anything in between, we can find a solution that you’ll love and enjoy for years to come.