When Landscapes Need Re-Engineering

From Associated Press

Things change as a landscape matures, so re-engineering may become necessary, suggests the National Garden Bureau.

“To start re-engineering a garden, you have to take a hard, honest look at what you have,” the bureau says. “Because changes in the garden can happen subtly over years, you might overlook the obvious, such as an increase in shade or a physical change. Pretend you are the new owner and look at it with as much objectivity as you can.”

The bureau, founded in 1920, describes itself as a nonprofit educational service providing accurate information on gardening. Most retail and wholesale seed companies are members.

If there has never been a plan for the garden, start by looking at what you have, the bureau suggests.


“Take one area at a time and think about how you want that to look, and then move onto the next area. If your garden doesn’t naturally break into areas, think about creating them by varying garden bed sizes, shapes and what plants they will contain. You may want to add a garden bed or two, or take some beds out.

“In evaluating your existing garden, you may find that some plants don’t perform as well as they used to. It could be they need more light. Consider moving them to a new area of the garden and finding some new shade-tolerant plants to replace them.

“A planned garden doesn’t have to happen all at once. If you develop an overall plan, you can work on one or two areas at a time and save work on the other areas until later in the year or even until the next season or two.”

The bureau suggests a coordinated color scheme to pull a garden together.


“Use a combination of three or four colors to create a color scheme. Match the colors in your dishes or your place mats if you eat outdoors.

“Red, white and blue make your garden patriotic. Pink, white and green is cool and refreshing. Yellow, blue and white is a bright summery combination.

“You can break the scheme every now and then when you have a great plant that doesn’t fit the rules, and then it becomes the exception that points out what your theme is.

“Re-engineering doesn’t always have to be a major undertaking. Once you have a plan in place, small adjustments every year or two will keep you from having to start from scratch.”