Exterior & Garden

Planning a Secluded Garden

This is the first post of three sponsored by RISE’s AND not OR home and garden program. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

We have a whole new space in the backyard to work on! Our new cedar fence went up in December (yes, odd timing), and we sectioned off the yard like a series of outdoor rooms.

Backyard Outdoor Rooms

I worked on the garden last spring, and the hostas and other new plants are just now starting to push back up through the soil. We’ve covered the new dog run with mulch and while we’ll have to continually refresh it over time, I think it’s the best solution for that area. Two mature shade trees keep the yard from being able to grow grass.

The new blank space that I’ve been planning and working on is the one labeled “lounge and kids’ area.” I’d like it to feel secluded and special.

Between Two Ferns

RISE has a helpful list of perennials that do well in the Midwest. We’re working with shade, so a lot of the same plants from last year’s backyard project will be used again. I’ll be planting mostly bushes and perennials so that the garden will grow and fill in over time, but I’ve picked up a couple of Boston ferns and might go back for begonias to fill some of the pots.

Ferns for the Yard

We have a garage full of flagstone that matches our existing dining patio. Brandon brought some over to create a tiny area off to the side because we found a bottleneck situation happens sometimes at the gate, and it’s better to have a paved surface to step onto than mud/dirt. We’re thinking of adding a proper patio with bushes all around for privacy and that secluded feel I’m after.

I’m also patiently waiting for the orangey new cedar to weather and gray. Below was my initial vision from a few months ago — hydrangeas and boxwood. There are hydrangeas that will grow with the limited sun our yard sees, but I’m open to other possibilities. Something a little taller could be nice!

Backyard New Fence and Plants Mockup

Some of our existing boxwoods are not looking so great right now, probably from the miserable polar vortex we had this winter. Do I want to add more? I’m hoping it’s winter damage that we’re seeing and not boxwood blight, which is becoming a problem here.

I spoke with Eric Wenger from Complete Lawn Care, Inc. to get some garden tips, and I asked about the boxwoods. In general, you always follow the same steps in your garden: inspection, diagnosis, and then treatment (matching the right solution to the problem). In other words, follow the AND not OR approach. Keep an eye on the plant material to discover problems before they become bigger problems, then treat only when you need to. In certain cases, the recommendations are starting to shift in regards to pervasive issues like boxwood blight, and it may be time to consider a preventative spraying treatment. I’m taking out the worst of the dead branches and watching to see if our boxwoods green up or require more help. Fingers crossed for recovery, but I feel prepared either way and excited to be gardening again!

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  • Annelies
    May 8, 2019 at 3:27 pm

    You look so fashionable Nicole! Love your style.

  • Jennifer
    May 8, 2019 at 9:19 pm

    You ought to be able to find hydrangeas that grow quite tall. The ones in our front yard are at least 6 feet, but allow some seeing through them, so it’s private feeling but not completely cut off from parental spying. The leaves do all fall during the winter, but left to its own devices the hydrangeas would grow enough stems that it will maintain some visual density over the winter. (I keep mine pruned pretty heavily because I want a more airy feeling.) I’m also planning a secluded secret garden right now, although for adult + kid socializing with chairs, fire pit, hammock, etc. so I’m excited to see what you end up doing and see if I can get some more ideas. I love hostas, and already have a hosta collection back there, and am starting to develop a fern obsession, so I have a feeling anything you come up with will be worth me stealing, too!

  • judy
    May 9, 2019 at 3:27 pm

    what ever you do is always lovely and love your outfit-it’s important to be stylish when one is digging in dirt,which I know you can pull off without any effort whatsoever!

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