How to Layer Plants in a Garden Landscaping Design


Utilizing the layering technique when approaching your garden design can help you achieve the proper proportion, depth and scale that most designers are trying to achieve.

IMG_20160722_1235541st Layer: Foundation Plantings

These plants are typically next to the house and can help to create the base layer which softens the materials of the house exterior.  Many people utilize evergreens as a solid four season backdrop for their first layer but it is certainly not a requirement.  Deciduous shrubs exclusively or a mix of both evergreen and deciduous can create very good interest.

IMG_20160722_1233232nd Layer: Accent Shrubs 

Combine several accent shrubs around foundation plantings or in other beds.  It is good to have a nice variety of plants but be sure to utilize repetition as well to help create unity in the garden.  Plants come in many shapes and sizes so be sure to utilize their characteristics when deciding where to incorporate them into the design.IMG_20160805_190710

3rd Layer: 

Try to select perennials that not only have attractive flowers during the blooming season but also interesting foliage even after the booms have fallen.  Also it is recommended to design perennials in groups rather than to put one her and another there.  This can hamper the natural look and the harmony of the design.

IMG_20160506_0752284th Layer: Annuals 

To maximize the color potential and interest of the garden, be sure to incorporate annuals into the mix.  Be sure to leave spaces or pockets in the front of planting beds available to make certain these areas really stand out.

5th Layer: Accent Trees 

IMG_20160805_094756Planting 1 to 3 trees in the yard will help to provide some scale to the home as well as provide some shade and character.  Determine the mature size of the trees that you would like.  Many homeowners choose a tree size in the 20 to 35 foot range but smaller or larger is fine depending on the look you are trying to achieve.  Be sure it is planted far enough away from the house so that at maturity, the canopy will not become an issue with the house.  Consider trees that may provide 4 seasons of interest through attractive foliage, strong silhouettes, colorful or peeling bark, berries, flowers and color.

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By Ryan Shields

Ryan is the Senior Editor here at Outdoor Home and Garden. He has a degree in Horticulture and has worked in the field of Facilities Management for over 16 years.

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