If you watch any of the popular home design shows, chances are high that at some point during the episode, you’ll hear mention of adding layers and textures to create visual interest within a room. And, while adding a throw pillow or hanging a piece of art on the wall is a typical way for the design star to add personality to an interior space, it’s sometimes a little more challenging for us working in the outdoors to introduce layers in the same way. After all, most gardens lack several of the traditional layers (see inset) interior designers identify as key to successful spaces.
However, a little creative license opens up ways to apply these layering principles to even the smallest of gardens. For instance, a trellis with any of our native vines can become a successful wall. A tree’s canopy can act as a ceiling. Groundcovers like gopher apple (Licania michauxii), wild petunia (Ruellia caroliniensis), or frogfruit (Phyla nodiflora) can help define the floor. Flowering shrubs like red anise (Illicium floridanum), Mrs. Schiller's delight (Viburnum obovatum), or Bahama coffee (Psychotria ligustrifolia) act as upholstery while a combination of annuals and perennials act as accent fabrics. A weather-resistant chair or potting bench is the outdoor equivalent of case goods. Wall art and accessories that include wind chimes, bird feeders, statues, and spinners can add fun, personality, and a bit of whimsy to any garden.
And of course, the interior designer's final layer: plants and lighting. Where would an outdoor space be without plants? We can actually utilize plant layers effectively to create vertical depth within the space; a forest’s layers include: overstory (large canopy trees); understory (smaller trees); shrubs; herbs (perennials and annuals); and ground covers. By intermixing these layers in a way that incorporates other design principles that include repetition and scale, you can build a lush space that is aesthetically appealing. Indeed, when including all of these layers and using our key tips for design, you can easily and quickly add visual interest and personality to your outdoor space.
We’d love to see what you’ve done in your outdoor space. Why not share your photos with us and show off what you’ve done? Tag us on Facebook @LittleRedWagonNativeNursery or Instagram @NurtureNative. And, as always, reach out or stop by with any questions.