#1 Plant Just One Tree
Planting one tree isn’t a huge effort. You’ll be helping our planet, too. Plus, once the tree is established, it’s about as low maintenance as a landscape can get — and the difference it can make to your yard lasts for decades. The key is to choose a tree that adds interest to your landscape in the form of color, shape, and texture. There are a ton of trees to choose from, but to play it safe, try a Japanese maple. Many are suitable for most any climate. They all offer color, form, and texture that can liven any landscape.
#2 Add a Colorful Punch With Mulch
Mulch is one of the easiest ways to add both color and texture to the entire yard. “Next to a green lawn, coffee bean-colored mulch is a great contrast,” says Paul Fraynd, owner of Sun Valley Landscaping in Omaha, Neb. If a dark roast isn’t your preference, there’s a a multitude of mulch colors that can spice up your bland landscape. Red, black, gold, cedar-toned — you choose. For something truly unique, try pine cones. They introduce a knotty texture that breaks up the monotony of flat lawns and box-like shrubs. The point is that mulch is easy: Choose a cool color and texture, then dump it, spread it, and forget it. “Keep it away from wood or siding, though,” warns Fraynd. “It can rot the wood and may attract insects.”
#3 Add Some Edging
Look along your walkways and garden beds. If your lawn just seems to morph into your shrubbery or threatens to take over your front walk, some unique edging could perk up your yard. No pruning, cutting, or watering required.
Define a walkway with some personal or found items, says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Association of Landscape Professionals. “Colored hockey sticks can line a path or wine bottles planted neck down in the soil,” just make sure you do the entire path. “Two or three wine bottles lining a path might look like leftovers from last night’s party,” she says. If you want to keep it all in the plant world, low-maintenance ground covers are an excellent choice for edging, she adds. Try lily of the valley, vinca, lamb’s ears, and pachysandra. Some of these add color, others texture, she says.
#4 Create a Focal Point That's All About You
Your own passions and pleasures are great inspiration to add color and texture to your landscape. Try creating a focal point with something that brings back a happy memory, says Henriksen, like your old toy truck, tricycle, or wagon. Turn it into a colorful planter.
Or opt for hard non-gardening materials to contrast with the softness and monotony of nature’s green. “Make a table using an oversized flower pot or lobster trap filled with something that represents your passion — golf balls, sea shells — and cover the container with a wood or glass top,” says Fraynd. “These can be fun to talk about and give a unique personality to your yard.”
Your yard is a reflection of you. You’re not one-dimensional. Your yard shouldn’t be either.