Cover photo: A front yard patio is a trending look in KC and an easy spring project.
Get busy! Here are some of the latest trends for a great looking yard
By Kathy Feist
Knock Out roses are out. Drift roses are in.
Japanese maples are out. Dwarf Japanese maples are in.
Rosehill Gardens’ landscape architect Amanda White designs beautiful yards throughout Kansas City. Here are some of the more popular trends she sees in the metropolitan area.
Front Yard Patio
“More and more people want a patio space in their front yards,” says White.
The patio, which consists of a couple of chairs in a small courtyard, allows homeowners to socialize with neighbors who walk by or to watch their children play in the driveway.
“It’s more formal than lawn chairs out on the driveway,” says White.
This trend is especially popular in social neighborhoods, such as Brookside or in suburban cul-de-sacs, she says.
Creating a front yard patio is something you can do yourself. It consists of clearing away a small level space near the house, putting down mulch or flagstones, and setting up a couple of Adirondack chairs.
“Be cautious about creating a public versus private patio,” warns White. “You want to have a delicate boundary.” She encourages the use of lanscaped plants or elevation change to create privacy.
Trees and Shrubs
Homeowners are buying specialty evergreens or unique specimen plants as a “stand-out piece” in the landscape scheme.
“People are looking for something that’s different from everyone else,” she says.
In the past couple of years, this has trended toward dwarf shrubs and evergreens, such as the dwarf Japanese Maple, the Horstmann Blue Atlas Cedar, or the flowering Crape Myrtle tree.
“Knockout roses have lived their life,” announces White. Instead Drift roses, a ground cover that blooms from April to November, are becoming popular.
Sun-loving hydrangeas are also trending, especially the bigleaf, mop-head species.
White says she also has more requests for butterfly and bee friendly plants. Pollinator plants include butterfly weed, butterfly bush, and zinnias. Russian sage and ecchinacia are also pollinator friendly plants as well as native to the area.
“A clean and tidy yard is better than one overwhelmed with a bunch of plants that you can’t keep up with,” says White. “Go with less is more.”
Keep the flower beds clean and add fresh mulch, she recommends. Also educate yourself on plant care.
“Knowing when to trim plants is important,” she says. “For example, some plants will only grow on new wood.” Trimming stimulates growth and density. She recommends viewing a plant care website such as www.garden.org.
Missouri soil has a high content of clay. This makes for a more compact surface that prevents water, air and fertilizers from getting deep in the soil. Consequently, plants develop shallow roots and are more prone to drought.
“I see a leaps and bounds difference between someone who just sticks a shrub in the soil and one who rehabs their beds,” says White.
To properly rehab the bed, she recommends breaking up the soil (aeration) before placing the plant in the ground, then mixing with top soil, compost and plant food (she prefers Osmocote brand).The process creates more oxygen in the soil and room for the roots to take off and the plant to grow and bloom profusely.