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Island Landscaping Ideas

By S.F. Heron ; Updated September 21, 2017
Many cultivars of chrysanthemums grow to shrub size in an island garden.
mums image by Ann Kosche from Fotolia.com

Different styles of gardens suit different areas of the home landscape. Island gardens stand alone in an expanse of lawn or under a mature shade tree. This type of garden usually allows views from all sides and serves to beautify an unused area of a property. Island landscaping ideas should always take into account the sunlight availability and soil conditions of a location before installing a garden.

Mum Garden

Chrysanthemums provide consistent foliage throughout the summer. These bush-like perennial plants will literally fill an island garden during the summer. Come fall, a profusion of bright colors top the mound of foliage for a stunning autumn display. Island mum gardens provide foliage interest during the summer as the plants produce greenery in preparation for late summer blooming. Select a full sun location for the mum garden and mix manure or compost into existing soil to a 12-inch depth. Plant different cultivars with the tallest placed in the center. Work outward to create a border of dwarf cultivars. During the summer, plants may produce random blooms. Prune back buds to the closest pair of leaves and water regularly to ensure even soil moisture. Apply granulated fertilizer to the base of the each plant in early August to ensure plenty of blooms in the fall. Winterize this garden by apply a 3-inch layer of mulch over the garden surface to protect plant roots from freezing temperatures.

Tree Garden

Most home landscapes feature mature trees forming a protective canopy over some portion of the landscape. The area under this canopy often goes neglected due to the difficult growing conditions. Consider plants that tolerate sharing soil and water resources with trees. Ground covers such as English ivy or periwinkle tolerate low-light conditions. Certain cultivars of hostas prefer the dappled shade provided by a sheltering tree canopy. Dress up the island area around your trees by carefully turning over the soil to a 10-inch depth. Avoid tree roots when cultivating. Add a 4-inch layer of compost, manure or peat moss and blend the material fully into the soil. Space plants according to grower recommendations, water thoroughly, and add a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch.

Ornamental Grass Island Landscape

Few plants can stand alone in a landscape as well as an ornamental grass. Grasses grow with a clumping tendency that allows these plants to serve as focal points in the landscape. Select a location in full sun for your ornamental grass island garden. Select the largest cultivars for placement in the center of the island landscape. Always consider the mature height and spread of grasses before planting. For example, pampas grass rarely works well in the home landscape due to the plant's immense size. Smaller cultivars such as miscanthus or ribbon grass produce interesting foliage and easily serve as mid-size transitional plants when placed next to tall grasses. Select mounding low grasses such as mondo or blue fescue to fill in along border areas. Amend the soil with compost or manure to provide a good base for this island landscape.