With the official start of summer in the rearview mirror, it’s totally natural that we will start spending more time enjoying the outdoors and our own backyards. If you need a little inspiration on how to spruce up your outdoor living space, then you’ve come to the right place! This article is written from the viewpoint of the Southeastern USA, so as always, do check with your local garden retailer to ensure that these selections will work well in your area. If not, they may be able to provide some great alternatives or additional ideas that didn’t make this list!
1.Ninebark. Though a deciduous shrub, ninebark can be a real delight during the growing season with its gorgeous foliage! It can be difficult to depart from the run-of-the-mill shades of green, but different ninebark varieties sport purple, purple-black, or even chartreuse foliage! Look for dwarf varieties if your landscape is more on the compact side.
2. Hydrangea. A summertime classic, hydrangea are a treat for months to come! Though most hydrangea will brighten up the shady areas of your landscape (think under a broad shade tree where you made a patio or placed a firepit), there are also varieties that can stand bright sun, such as Little Lime. A few other favorites are Endless Summer and Twist n Shout.
3. Abelia. Though abelia is sometimes touted as evergreen, expect it to be semi-evergreen at best in cooler areas. That being said, it is well worth its spot in the landscape during the growing season when it sports new growth in dazzling shades of chartreuse, orange, and red. The flowers are a treat for pollinators, a bonus! Check out the variety Kaleidoscope for a tried and true option.
4. Butterfly Bush. Like the name suggests, the butterfly bush is beloved by people and pollinators alike. While most butterfly bushes are traditionally on the larger side (think six feet tall and wide), there are many dwarf varieties that have been released over recent years. I am partial to Blue Chip Jr. which boasts a plethora of vibrant purple-blue flowers in a miniature size. If you need a little more scale, you can opt for its predecessor, Blue Chip.
5. Sunflowers. We all delight in seeing those swaths of sunflowers along the highway in the summer, so why not add them to your home landscape as well? Sunflowers are easy to grow and are adaptable to a raised bed, window box, or patio pot. Plus, the birds will thank you come winter!
6. Variegated Boxwood. When you need a little structure in your landscape, but still want a little variety, variegated boxwoods can do just the trick. This is an evergreen that is very versatile and can be hedged or hand pruned. Look for white or yellow-variegated options.
7. Redbud. When you think of a redbud, you may picture a graceful canopy of purple foliage in your shade garden. And while this is not an option to sneeze at (think Forest Pansy), Rising Sun redbud is one of my personal favorites for more sunny areas. The bold yellow and orange new growth just can’t be matched!
8. Loropetalum. When you’re sick and tired of the same old green, loropetalum can come to the rescue! While usually in deep shades of purple with bright pink, strappy flowers, there are variegated varieties such as Jazz Hands that mix it up even more! Note that in warmer climates, loropetalum often grows a foot or two larger than the marked full size, so be sure you have space for this one.
Now that you’re feeling inspired for all sorts of ways to shake up your landscape, let us know about it! Comment below what new plant you’ll be adding to your landscape this year, even if it’s not on this list. The options are really endless when it comes to color in the landscape. I hope this helps you get started.
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Jennifer has always had a love of being active in nature and has brought that together by studying English and Horticulture at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina and by later obtaining an AFAA Personal Training Certification.