Stock fencing goes quickly from "who cares" to "who knew" when you add inexpensive concrete finials from your local garden center.
Rather than fill a difficult-to-reach planter with water-thirsty plants, go with low-maintenance succulents.
Mahogany is an unexpected rich-looking, easy-maintenance, and surprisingly affordable covered porch flooring option.
Interior designers know that a bit of black completes any room. Seems to work just as well outside!
Before turning a shovel of dirt, spend time viewing your garden from all angles to create powerful focal points like this arched view of the fountain.
Adding a "hard" element like this terra-cotta container stops the eye from wandering across a sea of plants and helps define the garden's framework. It works in borders, too.
Your garden doesn't need to be laden with fabulous ancestral antiques -- just things you love. That said, a little restraint goes a long way, like this subtle bucket turned fountainhead.
No one wants to spend money on them, but stepping-stones do help avoid compacting soil while pruning and weeding, so invest here. They are sold by the pound or piece-by-piece at home-improvement centers.
One of the least expensive ways to add garden drama is to illuminate plants with uplights that can be installed in stages as budgets allow.
Choose a climbing rose like "The Fairy" for porch railings. Avoid rampant growers that can overwhelm or damage metal and woodwork.
Site aromatic plants like this lavender "Provence" where people are most apt to brush them when passing by. Sounds obvious, but have you done it? Thought not!
At yard sales and flea markets, keep an eye peeled for interesting shapes that can be reimagined and reworked like this antique daybed made up with a "quilt" of potted sedums.
Plants in Training
Thin cables attached to the building with hook-and-eye fasteners and turnbuckles provide a nearly invisible support system for training roses. Consider using weather-resistant marine hardware.
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Using local materials (here, crushed shells) helps the enviornment, saves money, and adds regional flavor.
Neighbors have something good going on? Incorporate it into your landscape, as with these trees spilling over the wall.
The wisteria-draped pergola acts as a shady tunnel contrasting with the open and bright garden beyond.
Spruce-blue paint (think of it as a neutral) picks up tones in the bluestone paving below and looks nice with almost any paint.
A new "room" can be created with a change in flooring. Here a path of fine bluestone shifts gears into rustic gravel.
Remember to look down from an upstairs window when designing a garden. This is where you'll best appreciate the overall plan.
Here two different plants -- clematis and beech -- both in the same bold red hues mark the entrance to this secret garden. A great idea for any garden.
Train Them Well
Ten flowering pear trees were coaxed over a metal arch to make this striking garden allée.
These Japanese boxwoods are shaped to mirror the roof peak.
The owner spreads a 3/8 inch layer of pea gravel on her terrace floor for easy walking.
Placing a mirror in the garden (the one shown here hangs on a garage wall) makes any space seem larger.
Hard lines love soft plants. Imagine this fireplace without the Bougainville and it's just another tall blank wall. One $20 vine was all it took.
Connect the inside of your home to the outside with pieces like these waterproof armchairs.
This owner planted a colony of succulents under the table for a delightful surprise to be seen through the glass top.
Spreading ground covers -- here, 'Elfin' thyme -- add instant patina to new pavers
This garden furniture came from a backyard builder instead of a "big box" store, so it's unique to the garden.
Use multiples of each plant to create high-impact drifts and masses. This owner groups them in threes and fives.
Why not a labyrinth (or tree house or outdoor shower)? It's your world. Live in it!