Anytown, USA

Anytown, USA

August 17 2020

Drive down any suburban street anywhere and what do you see? Yard after yard with a lawn, a couple of trees, and the ubiquitous foundation junipers. I realize that many homeowners have little time and money to invest in landscaping, probably overwhelmed with two jobs, children, and whatever else people do who don’t spend all their time obsessively gardening! I believe most suburban homeowners want their yards to look nice, but I just want to throw a couple of ideas out there.

First of all, I don’t believe most people need a professional landscaper to make their yard more welcoming to bees, birds, butterflies and themselves; or simply prettier. Nursery owners and their employees and master gardeners are usually more than happy to answer questions.

Also, I like lawns. Grass grows well in Montana and is a calm spot in most any yard, perhaps we just need less of it and more trees, shrubs and flowers. A master gardener instructor once said that grass growing under trees was an anomaly and doesn’t happen often in nature. Besides it’s easier to weed trees and shrubs in borders. I don’t know how many times I’ve carefully installed landscape fabric and mulch in circles around trees and then fought the invasion of grass forever. I now prefer to plant most of my trees and shrubs in my border gardens.

With all the millions of yards in our country, imagine if every landowner were to plant even one flowering plant. Happy bees, happy butterflies, and happy people. Now imagine if everyone planted ten plants that flowered at different times. Yikes! Maybe if you own even a bit of land you have a responsibility to give something back to the earth we live on. Well, you’d argue, then farmers ought to plant a commensurate number of trees and shrubs and I’d answer (as a farmer) that we certainly ought to try. I personally have planted over 1000 trees and shrubs a roughly an equal number of flowers.

The list of plants for any area is so long and varied that only a book will do to list them. Here is just one to consider-yarrow. It’s almost bombproof, drought tolerant, hardy, comes in many colors, bees and butterflies love it, blooms all summer, and is easily available. Get a cultivar, the native white yarrow is too invasive.

So why not! Plant something, anything, whatever you like. Diversity is key and it’s all good.

Yarrow- Achillea millefolium, perennial, ‘Paprika’, ‘Moonshine’ and many more