As we celebrate a big anniversary, our theme is ’85 Years of Planting Joy’.  The past year taught us that we all enjoy spending more time outdoors. We also work better together, like a delicate and complex ecosystem. The experience and knowledge of our staff is unmatched and they are here to help you. Let’s DIY together!

Basic Design Principles

Framing the ViewUsing plants to balance the landscape and structure

Creating Focal Points Establishing order by directing the eye to preferred views

Connecting the Landscape Building unity through repetition of plants, colors, or shapes

These are basic design principles from our Landscape Designer, Mary Saba. The graphic above gives you visual perspective for an overall design. The same design concepts apply to a garden bed. Most homeowners DIY one bed at a time. For best assistance at either of our locations, print your photo of the space you would like to fill. Understand small spaces of less than 10′ by 10′ are simpler and less timely in offering suggestions, and easier for you to DIY install. Larger landscape projects can require a Landscape Designer, delivery and installation services.

Choosing the Right Plants for the Right Place

The example DIY landscape bed is an existing northwest facing bed in the front yard. The customer wants curb appeal. Visitors walk right by this bed on the way to the front door. She brought in printed photos and shared the site measurements. The customer asked for assistance in picking out perennials that would 1. grow successfully in this space, 2. provide all season interest, and 3. coordinate with the rest of the plants in the front yard.

Barb, in Perennials at our Aurora location, viewed the photo and took the customer along the aisles of sun perennials. She showed her plants that would work well in that space. Guided by the customer’s desire for low maintenance plants, Barb pointed out the plant signs. The signs show recommended light and soil conditions, spacing requirements, mature growth size, and care tips. Many signs are marked as Growing Place Choice Plants. These are strong performers, perfect for helping you decide which plants to choose that require less maintenance.

To get a visual of what the design would look like, Barb and the customer set up plants on the ground, spaced appropriately, as they would be planted in the bed. They considered plants that bloomed in spring, summer, and fall. Barb suggested planting bulbs in fall for early spring color. They talked about winter interest. The Allium, Baptisia, and ornamental grass would all provide winter interest next to the existing Globe Blue Spruce and container filled with winter greens.

Amy added “Green is a color and leaves are beautiful.”  Good reminders when we tend to think that only blooms add appeal to the landscape. With her newfound knowledge, the customer chose plants. She also bought The Growing Place Garden Mix and Espoma Bio-tone to amend her soil at home for planting. Once home, she placed the containers in the bed, spacing them as they had done before. She cleared the existing mulch from the bed and began planting.

Following Recommended Planting Techniques

Once the design is set with the new plants in place, clear any existing mulch from the soil and plant within 2-3 days of purchase. Avoid over watering and under watering. We recommend using your finger to dig into the soil 1”-2”. If the soil is wet, do not water. If it is dry, time to water! You can also use a Soil Moisture Tester. Be sure to water the soil around the plant where the roots grow, not the foliage or flowers. Find watering and planting instructions always at your fingertips on

When laying mulch, keep it away from the base of the plant, applying a light layer without smothering. Visualize a donut versus a volcano when you spread mulch around a plant.

If you’ve seen animals in your yard that like to nibble on plants, such as rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, and deer, we recommend using chicken wire or other protection for these young plants as they take root and get off to a successful start.

Starting Small and Building the Vision

Perennials used in this sample DIY garden include:

Baptisia ‘American Goldfinch’

Schizachyrium scoparus ‘Standing Ovation’

Calamintha ‘Montrose White’

Allium ‘Windy City’

Geranium cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo’

Elfin Creeping Thyme

Already existing in the bed were Rosa ‘Flower Carpet Scarlet’ and a Globe Blue Spruce.

We hope you find encouragement and inspiration to DIY with us! Start with one small space, like near the mailbox, next to the patio, or a view from the kitchen window. Build upon what you started, following the design principles. Our expert staff is available daily to help you with your garden needs. If DIY is not your style, our Landscape Design Service can help the vision of your dreams become the reality in your outdoor living space.