It's January and although there are no flowers, there are still many beautiful examples of landscapes that are interesting year round. When choosing plants, it's easy to get caught up in showy pictures of flowering plants that don't depict the visuals you'll get for the majority of the year. Almost any landscape can benefit from the presence of flowers but time should be taken to consider all 4 seasons. This will ensure that there isn't a burst of interest in the spring leaving the rest of the year drab and boring.
Michigan summers can be hot. Most people don't want to have to do a lot of yard work in August. After the spring growth spurt, hedges can become unruly so should be used sparingly. Drought like conditions are not uncommon. Certain plants, especially non-native perennials, can need lots of water. This can be a pain without an irrigation system. Shade trees can make a yard much more enjoyable during the hottest part of the year by adding some much needed shade to parts of the yard that are used the most.
Many plants have interesting fall foliage but some more than others. Japanese Maple "Blood Good", burning bushes and staghorn sumac are some examples of plants that turn a vivid red color that can brighten up the landscape. Sugar maples, viburnums, oakleaf hydrangea, and smoke bush also have interesting colors that range from yellow to purple. When choosing trees for summer shade, remember that more trees means more leaves to clean up in October.
Winter is when evergreens shine. They're often the only color around come February. Many of them look great topped with fresh snow as well. Evergreen shrubs work well against foundations to add texture between homes and the ground once perennials have died back and deciduous plants have lost their leaves. There are options like junipers and birds nest spruce that need very little pruning compared to yews and box woods. Some shrubs like holly and barberries get bright red berries that look nice while simultaneously providing food for birds. Ornamental grasses, red twigged dogwoods and birch trees are also favorites for providing winter interest.
While a landscape design shouldn't fixate on spring time, it wouldn't be the same without some colors and smells to signify the end of winter. Many of the earliest bloomers grow from bulbs like tulips, daffodils, and grape hyacinth that have to be planted in the fall. Some of the most impressive displays of flowers come from ornamental trees like crab apples and cherry trees. Many shrubs also have spring flowers, such as viburnums, which can also have incredible smells.
It's good to go through each season and make sure there is something that will stand out throughout the year. Planning before the landscape project can create a more attractive, functional and hassle free landscape that can be enjoyed for years to come.