October 2019

Lowcountry Tips for Beautifying your Landscape

Author: Allyson Drucker

Life in the Lowcountry is illuminated by the beauty of the natural habitat. Our days are colorful, set against big, blue skies, the deep blue-greens of water and the lush greens and browns of our sandy beaches, marshes and live oaks. This natural beauty inspires many residents to devote a great deal of time, energy, and money to the care and beautification of their own backyards and gardens.

For some expert tips, we spoke with Tim Drake, landscape enhancement designer and business developer, and Carol Guedalia, horticulturist, from the Greenery, to get their advice on how you can get the most out of your efforts. Here are some of their tips for creating the yard or garden of your dreams:

Start from the ground up
Whether you are a new or long-term resident, Drake and Guedalia recommend taking a few soil samples from your yard and bringing them to the Beaufort County Extension office on Wednesday mornings. Here, for just a few dollars, you can ascertain some of the unique, fundamental properties of your yard or garden. Even though we all live under that same moody blue sky, the pH levels of your soil can differ dramatically and affect how you garden. The pH levels of your soil can differ dramatically from your neighbor’s, as well as from one corner of your yard to another. Understanding the pH balance of your soil will help you make the right choices for your yard.

Take note of light and exposure
PH levels are not the only thing that differentiates your yard and its potential. When planning or reassessing your landscape, take a closer look at light exposure and air circulation. If you are potting plants, make sure they receive equal amounts of light and air in 360 degrees, or turn them once a week. Often the front of a plant may thrive, but if the back doesn’t receive the same light or air circulation (or required shade in some plants), the whole plant will die.

Consider site conditions
Consider the space, time and energy you have for your plant maintenance. Other site conditions, such as areas that receive more or less natural rainfall, or the wind coming off the water if you live on the beach or a marsh, are unique to and within your yard. They will make all the difference in the health and continued growth of your landscape.

Aim for a balanced equation
Think about the flora and fauna equation particular to your neighborhood. Deer, squirrels, and bunnies have all been known to wreak havoc on Lowcountry yards, but this is not necessarily an area-wide consideration. Windmill Harbor, for example, does not have a deer issue, but you will need deer-resistant plants and flowers if you live in Palmetto Dunes.

Keep it simple
Drake highly recommends adhering to “simple principles of landscape design.” Simple, however, does not have to mean plain or boring. To the contrary, you can achieve a dramatic impact through the repetition of the same plant or color scheme, form and texture, throughout your yard. Limit your main choices, and then you can layer with seasonal touches.

Picture it
What kind of aesthetic do you prefer? Do you want a formal landscape? Natural? A tropical vibe? A more cottage-like appeal? Often these words mean different things to different people. If you are planning or reassessing your garden or yard, take or find pictures of the aesthetic you prefer. The Beaufort Master Gardeners and Savannah Trustees Garden Club both have books that are available at the Greenery, and they are filled with plenty of pictures for visual inspiration. Make a collage of what you like to help you later identify the specific plants to achieve the look you want.

Monitor changes
Sometimes, the most well-maintained yards can seem to turn against you. As your yard matures, the conditions can change, causing unforeseen consequences. Watching a crepe myrtle grow year after year to maturity is satisfying, so much so that you may not realize that plants beneath it, which were formally in direct sunlight, are now suffering in its shadow. Those small hedges you planted can become overgrown and crowded, overcrowding or “hedging” out smaller plants nearby.

Get professional help
Last but not least, consult the professionals! The Greenery is one of the leading garden resources in the Southeast. Professionals like Tim Drake and Carol Guedalia from the Greenery can help save you time and money in the long run by choosing the right plants, spaces, fertilizer, and more for the garden or yard you are trying to achieve.. 

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