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Master gardener offers landscaping tips

by JASON L. LEVAN jlevan@indianagazette.net on May 21, 2017 12:59 AM

Eye-catching landscaping can not only add curb appeal to your home, but it can also help you sway a potential buyer for your house, if you’re looking to sell.

But it depends significantly on how much time and, to a lesser degree, money you’re willing to spend to keep it looking that way, Sherry Kuckuck, a Master Gardener from Indiana, said during a recent talk on residential landscape design at the Indiana Free Library. Look at it as an investment, she said.

She offered a number of tips to spruce up landscaping at your home.

• Don’t be afraid to mix colors, experimenting with different combinations in your garden to see what works well together. Using only single colors can become bland, she said. Likewise, mingle annual and perennial flowers, so something in your garden is always in bloom.

• Don’t use stones as a weed barrier: “It doesn’t work,” Kuckuck said. Over time, weeds will find their way through the stones. To keep weeds at bay, consider using a mixture of salt water, vinegar and Dawn dish detergent instead of buying a chemical spray.

• A garden doesn’t have to be grandiose to look good. Plus, if you don’t have much space to work with, there are options to consider such as raised beds, mailbox coverings, and, of course, pots. Raised beds are a good way to contain a flower garden so it doesn’t get too unruly, she said.

• Want to remember what perennials you planted? Keep the tags from all of the flowers you plant. Kuckuck keeps a binder full of tags from everything she buys.

• Keep plantings away from the house, especially under a roof with a wide overhang, which can limit sun exposure.

• Beds are more attractive if they have curves. Stay away from straight lines or shapes with corners.

• Don’t plant flowers in rows and use odd numbers.

• Fruit trees generally make a mess and may not be worth the hassle: “Just buy your fruit at the store,” she quipped.

And to protect your investment, be wary of plant predators such as deer. “Deer eat everything,” Kuckuck said.

When using barriers to shield plants from deer is not practical, you can plant holly, which are scraggily and deter deer from coming around, she suggested. When planting holly, she said, make sure at least one of the plants is female. Firelight spirea has also been known to deter deer, she said.

And remember, she said, no plant is maintenance free: Annuals require dead-heading, perennials must be cut back and bulbs should be divided every so often.

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