Grow and go
Looking to improve the landscape at your lake retreat? Here are some low-maintenance but high-impact options.
So, you’ve got a second home at the lake, or you’re about to buy one. Lucky you!
But landscaping this country getaway takes planning, Tulsa landscape designer Breniss O’Neal says. A pot of petunias or two on the doorstep just won’t do it, and few folks can manage full-time maintenance — either breaking your own back each weekend or hiring pricey help.
O’Neal offers some suggestions to make that weekend retreat a real treat:
Think indoors. It sounds silly, and the outdoors is grand. But with Green Country’s quirky climate, when it’s 100 degrees in the shade and the chiggers are running amuck, the sofa, a good book and air conditioning are the way to go. That means landscaping with views from the windows in mind. Got a perfect view of the lake from the living room or kitchen? Don’t hide it with randomly planted trees and shrubs.
“Frame it like a painting,” O’Neal says.
Think evergreens. Not only are these hardy landscaping materials attractive year-round, but most also are unappealing to foraging wildlife. A favorite is junipers.
Planning. Particularly if you are investing in new property, take a careful look at your investment before you landscape. What are the high and low lake levels? Are there erosion or drainage issues? How about unsightly drives, maintenance areas or the view of your neighbors’ homes?
Think height and width. Sure, that tree or shrub is perfect in its pot at the nursery, but read the tag! Badly selected, mature plants can not only block views, but they also can scrape vehicles coming down the drive. Keeping out-of-control landscaping to a minimum also means eliminating tedious pruning and shearing when you should be kicking back with a cool one.
Create focal points. Rather than random digging, establish plantings that capture your attention and stand out from the surroundings. Too many colors or items gets too busy.
“The eye can’t rest on anything; it looks like a junk yard,” O’Neal says.
This can mean taking advantage of shortcomings. Turn an erosion-prone hillside into a rock garden with the addition of extra rock material.
Make certain to half-dig in the boulders so that the rock-scape looks natural — “not like it just fell off of a truck and stayed there,” O’Neal says. A birdbath or an arbor can provide that focal point, O’Neal says, but not as an after-thought. And think the unusual: A meadow of wild flowers — should you be so lucky — could be that perfect focal point.
Color counts. But you don’t need a rainbow. One of O’Neal’s favorite ways-to-go is to use the same plant material or color in different heights. This includes hardy crepe myrtle, such as Red Rocket, in three heights “for a spectacular display,” she says. Or how about white caladium softened with lamb’s ear? “White always grabs the eye,” she says.
Grass. I don’t think so. For truly easy living, leave that demanding turf in the city, particularly if your weekend home has small, outdoor footage. Go for easy-maintenance, shade-tolerant ground covers such as liorope and vinca minor.
“You don’t want to be a slave to weeding,” O’Neal says.
Pass on pots. Unless you use your second home almost full-time, pots of plants on the porch or patio will dry out or blow into bushes or your neighbor’s yard.
For more gardening tips from O’Neal, visit www.homeandbeyondtv.com
What to do in Tulsa gardens this month:
June is the transition month between spring and summer. There’s a lot to do.
- It’s last call for planting and prepping annuals. But flats of plants put in, in a rush probably won’t make it through Tulsa’s tough summer. Take the time to dig in these fledglings in good-sized, water-filled holes. Pinch back extra growth, including that tempting first bloom, and remember to fertilize every 10 days to two weeks.
- Evaluate your daffodils. If their performance wasn’t so hot, pull them up now (before you forget) and replant next fall. Keepers should have their fronds removed when they turn brown and pull up easily.
- The soil is warm enough now to plant caladium bulbs (clumps look best) as well as zinnias and basil.
- Yes, they served us well, but it’s time to ditch the pansies and plant heat-tolerant replacements such as zinnias and lantana.