Your yard provides a canvas for experimentation. Often a shovel and a packet of seeds are all you need to get started with a new theme garden or more practical planting project. Whether you just add evergreens to keep a flower bed colorful all year, or create a new feature in your landscape, the hard work of implementing new garden ideas lets you get outdoors, where you can (eventually) relax and enjoy watching the changing of each season.
Nestled in a corner of the garden and enveloped by a bright, flowering vine, a pergola helps to create a private oasis to enjoy all year round. Often built of wood, pergolas are made in a variety of sizes to fit into small or large gardens, making for a versatile outdoor structure. To create a shaded retreat, add a flowering vine planted at the base of the each pergola post to creep up and over the outdoor structure. Vines like confederate jasmine, a rapidly growing evergreen, retain their vibrant foliage and color all year long, to keep the pergola looking alive, even in winter. Growing 10 to 15 feet tall, confederate jasmine has fragrant, white flowers that emerge in spring to light up the garden. A twining vine, confederate jasmine requires full sun to partial shade to thrive and will have the pergola covered in a short period of time.
Deer can be a pesky problem in the garden, but with a little smart planting, you can create a colorful, perennial garden that looks good and keeps the deer away. Purple coneflowers and black-eyed Susan's, both perennials, are deer-resistant with upright, mounding forms with masses of flowers. Purple coneflowers stand up to 36 inches tall and have pale purple to rose petals that surround the gold center. Growing up to 30 inches tall, the black-eyed Susan has bright yellow daisy-like blooms that brighten the garden in the late summer. Add a large natural rock as an accent, and a clump of tall joe-pye weed or maiden grass--both also deer resistant according to University of Vermont Extension horticulturalist Leonard Perry--to complete a small garden bed suitable for full sun.
Aromatic herbs scattered around the garden create bright bursts of green to help complement other flowers and plants. Gather herbs in one bed around a classic focal point like a sundial or bench to create an eye-catching herb garden.
Grown in dozens of varieties, perennial herbs like rosemary, dill and fennel all require a one-time planting to then come back year after year, taller and fuller. Rosemary is a fast-growing, sun-loving evergreen that grows up to 3 feet tall and wide, and bears bright blue flowers every spring. Though it must be planted in a large pot and overwintered in colder climates, nestled along the back of the herb garden, rosemary provides a commanding backdrop in a warm-weather garden.
Tall herbs like dill and fennel grow in upright clumps that look striking when planted together. Dill's fern-like foliage and yellow flowers give a light and airy look to the herb garden. Growing 1 to 3 feet tall, dill requires full sun to thrive. Fennel, another upright herb has fine foliage that adds garden texture. A butterfly attractant, fennel grows up to 5 feet tall, creating a showy herb display. Perennials oregano and thyme add fragrance and color lower to the ground.
A rain garden is ideal for the environmentally conscious gardener. Rain gardens are intended for low-lying areas where water might otherwise accumulate in your yard. According to the University of Wisconsin Extension, a rain garden planted in a shallow depression can not only improve your yard's drainage, but improve groundwater quality by soaking up water runoff, preventing fertilizers and other contaminants from getting into the local water supply. Rain gardens should be planted with wildflowers and other native plants.