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Does Your Backyard Seem a Little Blah?

It could be due for an upgrade. Learn about 15 new trends

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Augmenting and renovating your landscaping and backyard space adds both pleasure for you and value to your home. Area experts shared what’s trending in area backyards.

1. “The trend is, everyone wants low maintenance. People are finding out it’s easier to grow a hardy perennial such as yellow archangel where lawn has not flourished than continuing to throw money and products at lawns.

2. “They also want color in their yard. The three hottest groups of plants are, by far, panicle hydrangeas. The newer varieties will knock your socks off. Firelight, Bobo, Zinfin Doll, Pinky Winky, Berry White, Candy Apple, Confetti, Diamond Rouge, Strawberry Shake, and the whole Lavalamp Series will make the color in your garden jump reliably, every year. Panicles were meant for the soil and conditions of Central New York, you’ll find at least one in all of my landscape designs and installations.

3. “Next on the list are the magnificent and re-blooming Weigelas. These will attract hordes of pollinators into your yard. Check out Czechmark Trilogy, Crimson Kisses, Dark Horse, Maroon Swoon, French Lace and all of the lovely Sonic Bloom Series. These also find their way into my landscapes on a very regular basis.

4. “Have a deer issue you say and want something compact you don’t have to prune? Then go with the durable and neat dwarf spireas. Take a Magic Carpet ride, or try Double Play Red, Double Play Candy Corn, Double Play Artisian. Deer will walk right by them; they don’t like the way they taste. For something a little taller, check out Tor or Snowmound, white flowers and again, deer don’t like them.

5. “Paint something like an old bicycle or something else that doesn’t work that you have tucked in your garage. That becomes a garden whimsy to put a piece of your own personality in your landscape.”

Jim Sollecito, Lifetime Senior NYS Certified Landscape Professional, owner Sollecito Landscaping Nursery LLC, Syracuse.

6. “An overall trend right now in landscaping is edible landscaping. It’s related to the farm-to-table movement and the interest in where our food comes from. We’re seeing people wanting to replace ornamental plants with plants that produce fruits, vegetables and edible flowers and berries. They can harvest from what’s growing in their yards.

7. “People are adding culinary herbs. Many want to grow them to use in cooking, like oregano and thyme. They’re beautiful and functional.

8. “Tree fruits are also great. Pawpaw trees are popular. Usually dwarf apple, cherry, and other fruits work better in residential settings.

9. “At this time in life, people start having more time to landscape and garden more thoughtfully. They can think about what they’re doing and how it impacts the environment.”

Lisa Lickona, coordinator of the Master Gardener program, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Onondaga County, Syracuse.

10. “If you watch birds, pretty much all of them need insects to raise their young, so we need to concentrate on plants that are beneficial to insects. It’s a double-edged sword for most people because most people think, ‘I have bugs in my yard; that’s bad,’ but most insects we see are beneficial or neutral. Few insects are harmful to what we want. If we have a balanced landscape with a lot of native plants, the predators and parasites of harmful insects will be in quantities enough to keep things in control.

11. “Some people want to wipe out a large section of lawn by replacing it with things that are less maintenance and contribute more to the ecologic balance. Pathways between different areas reduces lawn and maintenance.

12. “Water features are popular. They can be expensive if you have a landscaper put them in but they add to diversity.”

John Piston, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Onondaga County Master Gardener.

13. “Pollinators continue to decline so they want better color in their yard and good flowers growing right away and something in bloom into late October. Everyone has a busy garden in July and August. But what could they have earlier and later in the season?

14. “People want container gardening. Some people as they get older aren’t able to get down on their knees, so their plants are coming up. People don’t have huge gardens like 30 years ago. It might be on a porch, patio or by the front steps.

15. “Birdbaths always fits a need around here. While the style or type might alter slightly, it has to be pretty or else really functional to support birds and wildlife.”

Tim Ballantyne, co-owner Ballantyne Gardens, Liverpool.