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Dr. Rick offers tips on bed line design.

Now is a great time to create new areas of your garden here in the south. Typically, when we think about getting started, we march down to the garden center and buy as many of our favorite plants as we can find. I'm like a kid in a candy store as I pick out my new pet plants. Unfortunately, it isn't until I'm driving in the driveway that I worry "Now where in the world, am I going to put all this stuff" So a lot of my planting decisions aren't very good. If we are serious about creating a drop-dead gorgeous garden, lets start by building a framework or skeleton before we rush out and buy our plants. In fact what are talking about today is known as the backwards design process because it is the opposite of how most of us typically create our gardens. You want to start at a place that we rarely even think about... at the bed lines. These are the edges of the different parts of our garden. It's where the lawn touches a planting bed or where the groundcover bumps up against our shrubs. You need definite, distinct edges. This creates something called visual tension and it is very appealing in any garden. Bed lines are important because our eyes logically linger at this edge because there's a change or form, color or texture. Go to the beach and look out into the ocean. Our eyes head straight to the horizon where the sea meets the sky because there is a change of color and texture. Creating bold, consistent bed lines is the first step in developing a strong skeleton or strong bones in our garden. One of my favorite approaches to bed lines is a curvilinear approach. This is where the edge is curving and sweeping. It creates a restful, relaxing, pastoral feeling. It emphasizes your garden over your house, and it works best on rolling topography. A curvilinear theme needs plenty of room to work. It really isn't appropriate for small spaces because we want bold, generous curves rather than tight busy ones. Now the two main ingredients of curvilinear bed lines are outcurves and incurves. Outcurves are where the bed lines juts out into the lawn. Incurves are where the bed lines sinks back into the planting bed. Both are important yet should be used for different purposes. Regardless, there needs to be a minimum number of outcurves and incurves per outdoor room. Remember this philosophy that relates to bed lines and ice cream. More than two dips will make you sick! Bed lines that are too curvy are busy and fussy. They draw too much attention to themselves and irritate rather than soothe. A few judiciously placed outcurves and incurves is all you want. Take a garden hose or soft rope and lay out the lines to make sure they are bold, generous and above all simple. Take a look at the outline from a second story window or even a ladder. You're trying to make them look like the edge of a flowing river. Understand that tight curves are very interesting to your eyes so save them for particularly special parts of the garden. Here's an example of a tight outcurve and therefore a place that our eye wants to linger. This is a great place for some coarse textured, eye popping annuals. Understand that outcurve like this have a tremendous amount of visual energy and act as natural focal points in the landscape. Incurves like this are less visually fascinating and are best dressed with fine textured plants or cool colors Both fine textures and cool colors actually recede from our eyes and look farther away that they actually are. By using them in the incurves we add depth and spaciousness to our composition. Here's a key point to think about when we are creating bed lines and defining space. Since your lawn is the largest, most dominant area of the landscape, it needs to be the simplest space. Too often we create our lawn by using what's left over after we create our planting beds. Its an excellent idea to define your lawn first and create a simple, uncluttered area that serves as a foil (something that is dramatically different) from everything else. A cleanly defined lawn area serves as a resting place for your eye and a stage for the rest of the landscape members to perform.

Use of Pre-emergents.

Building a pond/water garden at Callaway Gardens.

Identifying Southern grasses.

Dr. Rick's Timely Tips - your turf has turned green, it's time to feed.

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GardenSMART Featured Article

By Delilah Onofrey, Suntory Flowers
Photos courtesy of Suntory Flowers

As summer heats up, the garden party is just beginning for gorgeous, tropical mandevillas. To learn more click here for an interesting article.

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