March 3, 2014

10 Tips to Refresh your Garden

Design articles are always guiding us into the various ways to refresh a room, let's switch it up and do the same for the garden.


This is one of my clients who called asking for some pruning. On my! I personally love to prune when a major renovation is required, believing anything can be re-shaped and saved. While the crew was busy, I pulled out the shears

 Yes, there was an entryway and an address.


Can I say mandatory? Looks clean and fresh, represses weeds and retains moisture
Look for the best mulch you can afford, preferably black and fine. We use LEAF mulch, decomposed leaves, rich, black and finely ground. When laid, any mulch will begin to decompose. As wood mulch decomposes, that process robs the soil of nutrients. As leaf mulch goes, it feeds the soil, improving it's texture and adding nutrients
Unless you reside at a Shell station, this is a big NO!  Ugly, and the dyes are toxic

3. Stabilize structures and paint if needed
In winter climes, snow and ice takes it's toll on our structures. Examine closely for needed repairs. A fresh coat of paint does wonders!

4. Clean, and/or replace outdoor soft goods
What a renaissance for outdoor pillows; the fabrics and the designs. We carry a line whose style matches any interior pillow, some with gorgeous fringe, trim and down inserts!
The rug line we carry, Dash and Albert, has a tremendous outdoor collection. New for 2014 is the collaboration with Bunny Williams, above

5. Declutter

It can day you are bringing home ornamentation, the next you are in a newspaper,
misguided, posing and smiling

Benches, table, fountain, watering cans.......complimentary to each other and tastefully arranged. Look around, what might be redundant, in disrepair......generally employ a good edit

6. Re access your front door

Charming? Massively so if you live in a cottage, in Czechoslovakia.
Enter your home as a guest would, is all clean? Decluttered? In good repair and painted or stained? Outdoor lamps sparkling clean?

Consider a color change, this focal point for your home can be unassuming or exciting

7. Give up on low performing plants

"I hate to kill plants!" I do too. Often as a landscape designer I am both executioner and nurturer. There are times when a plant is simply "taking up space", overgrown and beyond pruning (not too often), a blob, that is it just sits there, offering little

No focus, many blob type plants, all green, no stand-outs and yes, a few weeds

To live in my garden, the criteria is;
   must be of appropriate size
   must be interesting most of the growing season
   must be a strong performer; long bloom, colorful foliage, multi-seasonal interest
I'm ruthless.....

This Hydrangea above is the Incrediball, in bloom from early June to frost....nice!

8. Interesting foliage?

Take a close look. Have a section where there is too much green? (disregard if all green is your goal, lovely in a formal setting). Too many leaves of the same size and shape? Insert some of the colorful foliage plants and pay close attention to the shape, mixing it up.

 9. Consider the addition of Annuals

 To me, they are the link for a garden. They perform throughout the season weaving in and out of perennials and shrubbery that have their day until next year

10.  Reevaluate your containers
Are they in good order? Remove old soil, which no longer has any nutrients, and refill. How about their style and size, appropriate?

Charming? YES!  Appropriately sized? NO, too small
 That's better. Take note of the terra cotta color, which pulls from the homes bricks....nice!
One of our clients. When we designed the gardens, instead of a pair of urns at the front entrance, we placed oversized, statement urns in front of the two front windows. Enjoyed from inside and out, they make a statement as they are planted fresh, four times a year, celebrating each new season.




  1. Wonderful tips! I just wish it would get warm so I can get out in the garden again! Allison

  2. All great tips!!! Thanks for getting us ready for spring!! (Not sure it will come....we are snowed in....Fed govt closed.) I love your signature urn arrangements, Debra. Have you ever written a post on urn arrangements / plantings throughout the year? Show your favorites for all 4 seasons? xoxox

  3. Fantastic tips! We are just about to start a pretty major landscaping project, so admittedly our garden is a bit of a mess right now. But I'm trying to keep the urns that lead up to our house looking good for as long as I can - and keep the final results in mind as things truly get muddy and messy!

    Have a lovely week, Debra! XO

  4. Love this post, Debra. Great tips --the "Do" and "Don't" comparisons are very helpful!


  5. Oh, you had me on the red mulch!!!! My next peeve are those damn got it covered. Great post Debra.

  6. Great tips Debra! thanks! Also confirms spring will be here hopefully soon.

  7. Great post...i need to get to work!

  8. This makes it clear how much work I still have to do around here! I think a color change is needed. This is one of those posts to go through again slowly-- taking notes. : )


  9. Very informative and helpful. Thanks, Debra.

  10. Great stuff, but I want to know how you got a picture of my yard (#5 :-) ).

    What is planted in the white boxes by the blue door (third under #6)? I like the look of it.

  11. you had me emm!!

    the shrub in question is a gardenia, an annual in the north

  12. This is so great! Wonderful tips. My favorites are the perfectly planted urns, beautiful! Every homeowner needs to read this advice. Spot on!


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