Mostly, our gardens are about the plants. We gardeners grow, nurture, and devote ourselves to the health of our trees, shrubs and perennials. We create outdoor spaces filled with our passion–the plant world. 

  • For summer and fall perennials, read here.

  • Shade perennials, read here.

  • Groundcovers, read here.

  • Picking the right fruit trees, read here.

  • Ornamental trees, read here.

You get the idea. 

But great gardens include visual interest in other ways too. Here are five clever ways to achieve that. 

1. Add Hanging containers. 

Hang a pretty container on a tree branch and don’t worry about the spiller, thriller, filler design here, Pop in anything from a begonia to a succulent–depending on your light– and create a colorful spot. Think about places in the garden where nothing grows. What better way to add color?  

2. Add Simple Water Features.

Water trough

Everyone loves the sight and sound of water, but time-consuming and expensive waterfalls or ponds may not fit the space or the budget. Go simple. The concrete trough above surrounded by ferns is soothing and refreshing in an otherwise hot garden. Adding a simple rain chain gives the sound of cascading water with very little cost and not a ton of effort. Replace one of your downspouts with the chain.

3. Go for the Easy Vertical Plantings.

Vertical plantings don’t have to be complicated as these two pictures show. Recycled containers fit nicely into a square box filled with creeping jenny to add color. The second picture is a vertical trellis made of heavy wire with spacing enough for hanging baskets filled with tropical plants. This arrangement is effortless to create and keep watered compared to a  vertically planted wall space.  

4. Add a quiet spot.

We spend a lot of time working in our gardens, but nothing is more compelling than a place to sit and enjoy the garden. The red bench tucked between crape myrtle trees and surrounded by Mexican feather grass isn’t just calling out for a moment’s respite, the red of the metal bench and pillow add contrasting color to the soft browns and greens. In the formal shade garden below, a teak bench invites reflection and the table a cup of coffee with a friend. They complement the plantings, not distract from them.

5. Add Words.

If you need a fence to keep the dogs and children in and the deer or bear out, why not add a few words to remind you that it’s all good. Or if you love your city or town, give it shout-out from your garden. The Austin sign below can be found in Pam Penick’s garden who gardens and blogs about it in Zone 8b. Check it out here

Written by Cinthia Milner, garden coach and blog writer.

B.B. Barns Garden Center serves all of Western North Carolina, upstate South Carolina and Tennessee.