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Compact Trees and Shrubs for Small Spaces

Compact Trees and Shrubs for Small Spaces

Transform your petite yard into a lush oasis with our top recommendations for compact trees and shrubs for small spaces in hardiness zones 5 and 6. We understand the challenges posed by these demanding climates. But with the right plant selection, you can cultivate a vibrant and inviting outdoor space that thrives. Discover the perfect options for small yards and narrow spaces in our guide below.

Dwarf Korean Lilac

In small yards, this compact lilac variety shines with fragrant blooms in a stunning lavender hue. It serves as an ideal focal point or a charming addition to borders.

The japanese maples is a compact tree that works well in a small yardJapanese Maple

The compact “Crimson Queen” Japanese maple is a stunning ornamental tree prized for its compact size and rich burgundy cut-leaf foliage. It belongs to the Aceraceae family and is a dwarf cultivar of the Japanese maple species. The Crimson Queen typically grows to about 6 to 8 feet high. Its spreading, cascading form creates an elegant and graceful appearance.

Compact Burning Bush

Add a burst of color to your small yard with the Compact Burning Bush, known for its fiery fall foliage. Its compact size and low maintenance make it a popular choice for tight spaces.

The Boxwood is an excellent choice for a small yard.Boxwood

The boxwood is a popular evergreen shrub that belongs to the Buxaceae family. It is widely cultivated for its dense foliage and compact growth habit  in landscaping and garden design. Boxwoods are versatile and known for their small, glossy, and leathery leaves.

Dwarf Balsam Fir

The Dwarf Balsam Fir is a variant of the balsam fir and is known for its compact size and dense growth habit. The dwarf balsam fir typically reaches a height of about 3 to 6 feet and has a pyramidal shape with short, soft dark green needles.

rhododendrons are relatively compact and add bursts of colour to small backyard gardensRhododendrons and Azaleas

In addition to their aesthetic appeal, these plants are admired for their compact growth habit. They typically form dense, rounded bushes with a well-branched structure. This makes them ideal for creating hedges, borders, or even standalone focal points. Their compact nature allows them to fit well in smaller gardens or confined spaces. And they provide a burst of color and greenery without overwhelming an area. It’s easy to maintain and shape these flowering shrubs through pruning, enabling gardeners to control their size and promote healthy growth.

Weeping Pussy Willow

With its graceful weeping branches and early spring catkins, the Weeping Pussy Willow brings whimsy and charm to small yards without overwhelming the space.

compact trees and shrubs for small spaces hydrangea Compact Hydrangea

‘Little Lime,’ a smaller version of the popular ‘Limelight,’ adds a touch of romance to limited spaces. With its showy, cone-shaped blooms, this hydrangea is beautiful in small areas.

Pencil Point Juniper

The Pencil Point Juniper is a fantastic addition to small yards. With its slender, columnar form and compact size, it adds a vertical elegance without taking up much space. The blue-green foliage adds a touch of colour and texture to your garden, making it an excellent choice for adding visual interest.

To achieve a stunning small yard in hardiness zones 5 and 6, selecting the right compact trees and shrubs for a small yard is crucial. Choose trees and shrubs that are naturally compact or can be pruned to fit your space, ensuring your garden is both beautiful and tailored to the demands of your region. Embrace the diverse colors, shapes, and sizes available among these selections, and witness your small yard transform into a captivating retreat that delights you throughout the seasons.

 

Colourful Autumn Plants

Colourful Autumn Plants

Perennials, Trees, and Shrubs That Look Great in Autumn

As the summer heat gives way to cooler temperatures and the days grow shorter, nature puts on a breathtaking display with colourful autumn plants that herald the arrival of a new season. The changing foliage is one of the most enchanting aspects of the fall season, and there’s no better way to celebrate it than by incorporating stunning perennials, trees, and shrubs into your garden landscape. In this blog post, we’ll explore a selection of these autumnal gems that can transform your outdoor space into a captivating fall wonderland.

A Selection of Colourful Autumn Plants

Colourful Autumn Plants Sugar Maple in fall landscapingSugar Maple (Acer spp.)

When it comes to fall foliage, few trees can rival the brilliance of maples. Known for their fiery red, orange, and yellow leaves, maple trees are iconic symbols of autumn. Varieties like the Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) and Red Maple (Acer rubrum) are especially popular for their vibrant colour transformations. Plant one in your yard, and you’ll be treated to a stunning display of orange and crimson leaves that will be the envy of every neighbour on your block.

Oak Trees (Quercus spp.)

Oak trees, with their bold and enduring leaves, are another fantastic choice for fall colour. While oak leaves tend to change colour later in the season, they often turn deep shades of russet, burgundy, and brown. These majestic trees are not only beautiful but also provide valuable wildlife habitat and shade, making them a practical and aesthetically pleasing addition to any landscape.

Colourful Autumn Plants Japanese Maple in fall landscapingJapanese Maples (Acer palmatum)

Japanese maples are renowned for their elegant and delicate foliage. These smaller trees or large shrubs come in a variety of cultivars, each offering unique leaf shapes and colours. In the fall, the leaves of Japanese maples often turn brilliant shades of red, orange, or purple. These trees can be used as focal points in your garden or as accents to complement other plants.

Ornamental Pear (Pyrus calleryana)

The foliage of the ornamental pear tree in the fall is nothing short of spectacular. As the temperatures begin to drop and the days grow shorter, these trees undergo a remarkable transformation. Late to change colour, the typically glossy green leaves of the ornamental pear take on a vibrant and rich array of autumn hues, ranging from brilliant shades of orange and deep red to warm purples when many other trees have turned brown or have shed their leaves. The canopy of an ornamental pear tree, with its fiery foliage, becomes a captivating focal point in any landscape, providing a breathtaking and enduring display that continues well into the fall season.

Colourful Autumn Plants burning bush in fall landscaping

Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus)

The Burning Bush, also known as the Winged Euonymus, is a compact shrub that truly lives up to its name in the fall. Its leaves explode into vibrant shades of crimson, creating a striking visual contrast against the green backdrop of your garden. This deciduous shrub is not only stunning but also low-maintenance, making it a favorite of all colourful autumn plants among gardeners looking for a hassle-free addition to their fall landscape.

Sumac (Rhus typhina)

Sumac trees are another colourful addition to the fall landscape, showcasing their unique beauty as the season progresses. In the autumn, sumac leaves transform into a brilliant palette of red, orange, and burgundy, creating a fiery spectacle that catches the eye from afar. Their feathery, pinnate leaves often persist well into late fall, providing a striking contrast against the backdrop of the changing landscape. What makes sumac trees even more appealing is their upright, architectural growth habit, which adds structure and drama to your garden. As the sumac’s vibrant foliage unfurls, it signals the arrival of fall in a grand and picturesque manner, making it an outstanding choice for those seeking a bold statement in their autumn garden design.

Colourful Autumn Plants Chrysanthemums mums in fall landscapingChrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum spp.)

Chrysanthemums, commonly known as mums, are a classic choice for adding a burst of colour to your fall garden. These perennials come in a wide range of colours, including deep purples, vibrant yellows, and warm oranges. Plant them in pots or garden beds to create stunning displays that can last well into the late autumn. Mums are also perfect for adding a touch of fall festivity to your outdoor decor.

Asters (Symphyotrichum puniceum)

Asters, often referred to as the “stars of autumn,” truly shine in the fall landscape. These charming perennials burst into bloom just as summer transitions into autumn, covering gardens with a sea of vibrant colours. With their daisy-like flowers in shades of purple, pink, and white, asters add a delightful contrast to the changing foliage around them. As the days grow shorter and cooler, asters continue to thrive, providing a late-season nectar source for pollinators like bees and butterflies. Their resilient and cheerful presence makes them a beloved choice for gardeners seeking to extend the beauty of their outdoor spaces well into the fall months.

Colourful Autumn Plants Virginia Creeper in fall landscapingVirginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)

For those seeking a rustic and wild look in their fall landscape, consider Virginia Creeper. This deciduous vine boasts a brilliant display of fiery red foliage in the autumn. It can be trained to climb walls, trellises, or arbors, creating a dramatic and picturesque backdrop for your garden. Be aware that this vine can be quite invasive, so it’s best if it has lots of space to grow, like a long fence line. To contain it cut it back regularly and dig out new root growth.

As the leaves begin to turn and the air grows crisper, there’s no better time to celebrate the beauty of fall foliage in your garden. Whether you opt for the blazing reds of maples and burning bushes, the elegant hues of Japanese maples, or the varied shades and classic charm of chrysanthemums, there’s a wide range of perennials, trees, and shrubs to choose from. With a well-planned selection, your garden can become a stunning tribute to the gorgeous colours of autumn.

As always, if you’re not much of a green thumb or would just like some professional landscaping assistance, contact us to get started.

Five Ways to Attract Wildlife to Your Backyard

Five Ways to Attract Wildlife to Your Backyard

If you are looking for ways to attract wildlife to your backyard, then you have come to the right place! In this blog post, we’ll be exploring different methods for attracting and nurturing wildlife in an eco-friendly way. We will discuss how native plants can provide food and habitat, which water sources are best suited for animals, how to create safe shelters, and much more. By the end of this blog post, you’ll have all the tips and tricks required to turn your backyard into a thriving habitat for various types of animals.

Plant a variety of native plants that provide food and habitat.

attract wildlife to your backyard with native plants foxglove bees pollinatorsPlanting a variety of native plants is one of the best ways to attract wildlife to your backyard. Native plants provide food in the form of berries and nuts, as well as providing shelter and nesting materials. They also help to increase biodiversity, which helps promote healthier ecosystems for animals to thrive in. Planting native trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and grasses will create a space that allows for birds, insects, and other animals to find food and shelter from predators. Not only do these plants have benefits for wildlife but they require less maintenance than non-native plants since they are accustomed to the local soil conditions and climate.

 

Provide water sources, such as bird baths and small ponds.

Provide water source for wildlife pollinators pond waterfall bubblerProviding a source of water is essential for wildlife in your backyard. Bird baths and small ponds are excellent methods of providing a source of water. Not only do they help to attract birds and other animals, but they also give them a safe source of hydration. If you are looking to create a bird bath or pond, make sure it is shallow enough that there is no risk of drowning.Additionally, place rocks or pebbles in the water to provide areas where animals can drink safely without having to enter the water. One caveat: ensure your water source doesn’t freeze over by keeping water moving (with a bubbler or waterfall) or add a small heater to keep it usable. By adding these water sources you will be able to keep birds and other animals safe, hydrated, and happy in your backyard.

 

Keep pets indoors or away from areas of wildlife activity.

Keep pets indoors to avoid scaring off wildlife from your backyardKeeping pets indoors or away from areas of wildlife activity is an important part of protecting wildlife in your backyard. Cats and dogs may be attracted to the small animals in your yard, such as birds, rodents, or other creatures. It is best to keep these pets inside or restrain them while they are outside so they do not disturb or harm any wildlife.Additionally, make sure that any outdoor dog runs are not set up in areas where wildlife likes to rest and feed. By taking these extra steps you can ensure that both your pets and the local wildlife stay safe and happy.

 

Create a shelter for wildlife with logs, brush piles, birdhouses, and nesting boxes.

Creating a shelter for wildlife can be a great way to improve your backyard habitat. Logs, brush piles, birdhouses, and nesting boxes are all excellent places for animals to take refuge from harsh weather or predators. Logs provide shelter underneath and can also be used by birds as perching spots.Brush piles offer animals tall grasses and shrubs to hide in while keeping warm. Birdhouses and nesting boxes give birds and small animals a safe place to build their homes. All of these structures will help create an inviting environment for wildlife in your backyard.

Leave some areas of your garden undisturbed.

undisturbed flower garden hyacinth daffodils hummingbird mothProviding undisturbed areas in your garden is a great way to support local wildlife. By leaving some areas of your garden untouched, you are giving animals the chance to make their own homes without interruption from people or pets.This can take the form of wild patches of grass, untended corners of your yard, or piles of sticks and logs that provide harborage for small creatures. Even if it seems like doing nothing is best, keeping these areas free from human activity and disturbance will be beneficial to the wildlife that makes use of them.

With a few simple changes and an open mind, you can transform your backyard into a hub of biodiversity, where birds, amphibians, mammals, and insects come together to build their homes. Create shelters with logs, brush piles, birdhouses, and nesting boxes to attract wildlife to your backyard. Leave some areas of your garden undisturbed for animals to make their own homes. Once you get started on making your backyard more wildlife-friendly, there’s no telling all the types of critters that will call it home.

Plant Combinations

Plant Combinations

When it comes to selecting plants, shrubs and trees for your gardens, there are myriad options you can choose to add visual interest, minimize maintenance, and attract birds, bees, and other pollinators. But the real magic happens when you select plant combinations that complement one another, elevating the overall effect.

plant combinations for shade perennial shady garden hosta fernWhen you drive by a home and find yourself admiring their beautiful landscaping, it’s typically not due to an individual element in their garden, but rather the combination of plants, shrubs, and trees that work nicely together.

Regardless of whether you’re planning a formal or informal style, you can find specimens that will help you achieve the look you’re aiming for. A few things to consider:

Height

Create depth and balance by grouping elements of various heights. Taller plants/trees can be placed at the back (or middle for an island flowerbed) while shorter selections can be added at the front or around the edge.

Shape

Consider the various shapes of foliage, flowers, and overall plants. While consistent shapes throughout a design can be effective, they tend to lend a more formal appearance, so choose shapes accordingly. Also, look for options that tend to naturally hold the desired shapes to minimize the additional task of pruning.

Quantity

Design theory dictates that odd numbers are more visually appealing, so group plants, shrubs, and trees accordingly.

planting combinations shrubs tall short height sizeSeasonality

Some perennials look great in spring, summer, and fall (and even winter). Others have features that really shine for only a limited amount of time during one season, and then are rather unremarkable the rest of the year. For example, Forsythia is full of brilliant yellow blooms in the spring while the Burning Bush foliage is a brilliant red in the fall. Group elements to ensure that at least one plant or tree is always offering some visual interest.

Colour

Play around by planting different shades of the same colour. Go monochromatic by planting elements whose colours are all the same, but size and shape varies. Or select plants, shrubs, and trees whose colours are different from one another but complementary.

Hardiness

If you’re planting combinations that you want to come back year after year, ensure they’re all appropriate for your hardiness zone. Stratford and area’s hardiness zone is generally a 6. If in doubt, ask the nursery where you buy your plants.

Plant Combinations for Sun and Shade

plant combinations prairie echinacea purple coneflower rudbeckia black eyed susanSun

Coneflowers, Ornamental Grasses , Black-Eyed Susan, and Gayfeather (Liatrus) creates a low-maintenance prairie look that is colourful and showy from early summer to late fall.

Shade

Combining Hostas with Ferns and Japanese Forest Grass creates visual interest with a range of leaf sizes, textures, and colours. And Hostas provide the added bonus of white or pale purple blooms in the summer.

These are just two of many types of plant combinations you could try in your gardens. If you’re interested in adding or enhancing visual interest in your gardens but don’t want to do it yourself, contact us to discuss your landscaping goals.

Groundcover for Sun and Shade

Groundcover for Sun and Shade

groundcover to grow in sun and shade landscaping around pondGroundcover for sun and shade are plants that tend to grow low to the ground and spread. These ranging plants do double duty in your flowerbeds. With their showy foliage and/or flowers, they add visual interest. But just as importantly, if not more so, they act much like mulch, helping to suppress weeds, reduce soil erosion, and retain moisture.

What’s more, groundcovers are generally low-maintenance, so you get all the benefits mentioned above, without back-breaking work. Just ensure that you plant groundcover plants according to their light exposure requirements.

groundcover creeping phlox plant in full sunA few of the reasons you might consider planting a groundcover:

  • To cover ground where it’s extremely hot and sunny. Drought conditions can leave grass and/or plants parched. Some of the varieties listed below can better tolerate these conditions, and will look nice doing it.
  • To keep weeds down. Weeds are simply unwanted plants in your lawn and garden. If you find weeds particularly troublesome in an area of your flowerbed or lawn, consider planting groundcover appropriate for that area to keep weeds in check.
  • groundcover creeping juniper plant in full sunTo cover steeply graded areas of grass. If your yard has any sloping areas that are hard to maintain, consider replacing the grass with a ground cover to eliminate the hassle.
  • To cover shady spots where grass is sparse. Too much shade can also lead to patchy grass growth. Plant a shade-loving groundcover instead for lush, even coverage.
  • To reliably cover areas with high foot traffic. If your grass is worn in areas where there is consistent foot traffic, a robust groundcover with a creeping habit should provide better coverage.

groundcover for sun stonecrop sedumGroundcovers to plant in the sun

  • Creeping Thyme
  • Stonecrop Sedum
  • Creeping Juniper
  • Ice plant
  • Catmint
  • Creeping Phlox
  • Black-Eyed Susan

groundcover for shade sweet woodruff fernGroundcovers to plant in the shade

  • Lamium
  • Bugleweed
  • Sweet Woodruff
  • European Ginger
  • Carex/Sedge
  • Japanese Spurge
  • Periwinkle

groundcover for shade periwinkle vincaNote that some groundcovers, due to an aggressive spreading or creeping habit, can be invasive, so it’s important to take a bit of time to choose the right plants based on your goals and available space.

If you would like to incorporate groundcovers into a new or existing landscape design but aren’t up for doing it yourself, we can help you make the right choices for your needs and goals. Contact us any time.

Drought-Tolerant Perennials

Drought-Tolerant Perennials

When we’re consulting new customers about their goals for new landscaping, “low-maintenance” is typically high on their list of outcomes. One of the key traits that makes a garden low-maintenance is the ability to thrive in dry conditions. And there are plenty of drought-tolerant perennials that fit the bill.

Drier summers like the one we’re experiencing this year can put a lot of stress on plants, trees, and shrubs. This is especially true for plants that are not yet established (newly-planted) and for non-native species and varieties.

But don’t worry, you don’t have to resign yourself to rock gardens with drought-tolerant succulents. There are many beautiful perennials that can weather and even thrive in dry conditions.

Below is a selection of our favourite drought-tolerant plants and flowers suitable for Southwestern Ontario’s hardiness zone (5/6).

Drought Tolerant Perennials for Sunny Locations

drought-tolerant perennials purple coneflowersConeflowers

Also known as Echinacea, Coneflowers provide pops of (most commonly) vibrant purple with a thistle-like centre that attracts pollinators.

Perennial Grasses

Available in a wide variety of sizes and colours, ornamental grasses add a lot of texture and visual interest to a garden. Be sure to select varieties that are hardy in your zones, as some grasses will not survive our winters and so are better suited to annual planters.

drought-tolerant perennials russian sageRussian Sage

This lavender-hued beauty thrives in dry soil and offers a wispy appearance with silvery foliage that is as striking as its flowers.

Daylilies

The ubiquitous Daylily, with all of its available sizes and colours, makes a great, low-maintenance addition to gardens and fence lines.

Sedum

Also referred to as Stonecrop, sedum is a succulent whose light pink, purple, or reddish flower clusters that bloom in late summer and last into the fall. Autumn Joy is a common variety and looks great alongside ethereal grasses.

drought-tolerant perennials liatris blazing starGayfeather

Liatris spicata, commonly known as Gayfeather or Blazing Star, is a spreading, upright perennial with vibrant green foliage and spikes of purple, pink, and/or white flowers.

Yarrow

Super easy to grow, Yarrow has fern-like foliage with clusters of small, white or pale-coloured blooms. Plants can be easily split to avoid it taking over your garden.

Drought Tolerant Plants and Flowers for Shady Locations

drought-tolerant perennials sedge carexCarex/Sedge

Some varieties of Sedge do well in shady locations. The prominent, grass-like foliage is brightly-coloured and/or variegated, making it an excellent companion for flowering perennials.

Barrenwort

Also known as Longspur or Bishop’s Hat, Barrenwort produces gorgeous, orchid-like flowers on long stems and thrives in low-light areas.

drought-tolerant perennials lamiumLamium

Part of the mint family, Lamium spreads nicely to provide an interesting ground cover with mottled or variegated leaves and small, orchid-like flowers.

Bleeding Heart

Emerging in the spring, first with foliage followed by blooms, the Bleeding Heart earns its name from the heart-shaped flowers that grow along long, horizontal stems.

drought-tolerant perennials foam flowerFoamflower

Blooming in the spring, the Foamflower’s bright and sometimes variegated cut-leaf foliage yields to tall sprays of delicate flowers.

Bigroot Geranium

Unlike its upright annual cousin, the perennial Bigroot Geranium remains low and spreads to create a beautiful flowering groundcover that keeps weeds at bay.

So, there are myriad options for gardens in dry conditions. However, if you need assistance with choosing the right combinations for your gardens, contact us.