Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Create Your Backyard Oasis

Yes, you can turn your yard into a tropical retreat!

You can plant lush layers, from towering shade trees to mid-size shrubs to low-lying ground cover, using different size plants. Use a low layer of deep-purple ground cover not exceeding 12 inches tall, a medium layer of flaming orange bromeliads and feathery green cycads, and an uppermost canopy of palms.

Allow for a water feature. This creates a dramatic touch that provides tranquility and drowns out city noises.

Incorporate natural stone accents. If a stone isn't available or too costly, a similar textured finish can result from sprinkling coarse rock salt over wet concrete and pressing it into the surface. In place of ground cover or between paves and stones, use black river rock, a common element in tropical landscapes.

Grow orchids as tropical accents. It instantly transport a garden to the tropics, where they often grow on the sides of trees. Hang them in baskets from tree branches, and tuck potted orchids among green foliage.

Use a mix of textures to fill your containers. Select containers that are simple with clean forms over ornamentation. Unusual old pots with interesting patina works good.

Attract butterflies with a mass of wildflowers. In sunny open areas, purple Mexican salvia and yellow bulbine create a colorful habitat which attracts butterflies and humming birds.

Go overboard with green which has a calming, cooling effect especially in tropical climates where the sun is so hot. If you want your space to look more interesting, use various shades of green and create texture by mixing leaves in various sizes and shapes.

Choose large-leafed plants. They add drama and tropical tone to a garden.

Mix in richly colored foliage that adds variety in a more permanent form because it doesn't rely on bloom cycles.

Decorate with cheerful vines to add bursts of color to a predominantly green garden. Bougainvilla, passion flower and golden trumpet can be planted as annuals in temperate-zone gardens and will thrive with lots of sunshine.