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Past Articles Library | Niche Gardens You Can Grow

Many people are turning away from the traditional landscaping that has a lawn over much of the yard and a few shrubs around the house.  Partly this is because of the long drought the country is in, but partly it is a change in what a yard should do.  Yards are to be enjoyed, and for some people at least, turf doesn’t do that. 

If you want something besides turf in your yard, you can create a number of gardens in the space you have after ripping up the turf.  You can have several different types of gardens or one larger garden.  Below are some types of gardens you can grow to give you an idea of what is possible.

Herb garden.  Traditionally, people grew an herb garden outside of the kitchen so that they could quickly reach any herb they needed for cooking, medicine, or decorating.  Herb gardens range for a few plants of the most common culinary herbs to large gardens containing hundreds of herbs used in compounding medicine as well as for culinary purposes.  If you are new to herb gardens, start small and then expand as you gain confidence and learn more about herbs.

Vegetable garden.  Generally this was planted close to the kitchen, too.  People had to raise all of the food they ate so the vegetable garden was very important.  If the garden did not make a good crop, people could starve.  This is what happened in Ireland with the potato blight.  Many people starved and many more had to leave Ireland to keep from starving.  Vegetable gardens are not quite as important now that stores carry vegetables, but they do allow you to grow much of what you eat.  This saves money and lets you grow cultivars of vegetables that you don’t see much in stores.

Butterfly garden.  Butterflies are having a hard time finding places to reproduce, eat, and live.  This is because there are not of the right kind of plants around.  You can plant a butterfly garden that has plants for them to lay their eggs on, plants such as the butterfly bush that provide nectar that they need, and some species of plants that they can loaf in.  The plants you use in the butterfly garden may vary by what you are trying to attract.  Milkweed attracts monarch butterflies, which are currently having trouble finding food and shelter on their long migration from their nesting areas to Mexico, where they overwinter.  As a plus, most plants that attract butterflies also attract hummingbirds.

Water garden. Water gardens are an attractive addition to most yards.  While they are a lot of work to set up, the sound  of running water can sooth the soul when you are trying to think through something or just enjoying the sounds of the garden.  Many people like to stock their ponds with koi.  These fish will fertilize the plants around the pond, but you must monitor the water quality and keep it filtered or the ammonia from the koi’s waste will kill everything.  Koi are intelligent and soon learn who feeds them and what time the food comes.  They will swim over and take food directly from your hand after a while.

Rock garden. These are great to build on a slope that would be too steep to mow.  You can imitate an alpine area with rocks, mountain flowers and foliage, and maybe a waterfall.  You can arrange this part of your yard to have the waterfall go into your water garden.

Shade garden.  Have a place where the grass won’t grow because it is too shady?  Forget the grass and grow plants that thrive in shade or part shade.  There are many vines, flowers, and ground covers that will make a nice shade garden around a tree or other places that do not get much sun.

Rose garden.  Roses are many people’s favorite flower.  No wonder -- there are sizes, colors, and shapes to please almost everyone. You can plant roses in a section of your garden or use them as the only plant you grow.  Hardy cultivars are being bred that do not fall prey to typical rose diseases and don’t have problems with pests, so rose gardens are much less trouble to keep beautiful.  Roses come in compact bushes, large bushes, and vining varieties that can be trained to cover a trellis or other structure.

Container gardens.  Container gardens are great for first time gardeners.  You can plant herbs, a bouquet of flowers, or just one large specimen plant in a container.  They don’t take up much room and you can move them indoors when bad weather threatens.  You control the soil that goes into a container garden so if your local soil is hard to grow anything in, you still get to garden.

Bulb gardens.  Bulbs come in many shapes and sizes.  They also come in many colors.  You can find a bulb to please almost anyone.  They are a bit of trouble as you have to dig them up and divide them in the fall, then replant them.  However, their striking color and early blooms more than make up for that.

Annual gardens.  Annuals are colorful and easy to grow.  A trip to the nursery will find you trying to decide which of the beautiful annuals you want to spice up your garden.  There are annuals that bloom at any time from early spring to fall.  Pick up several different annuals and you can have flowers for the whole growing season.

Perennial gardens. These plants come back year after year.  They may involve some work, such as pruning, weeding, and watering, but they pay you back by blooming, and they really enliven the spaces they are in.  You can have a whole segment of your garden planted in perennials or use them as accents in any other type of garden.

Hopefully, you have discovered a type of garden that you never knew existed.  Now you can decide what your new landscape will look like come fall.


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