What’s Hot for Colorado in 2011: ALCC's Top 11 Landscape/Garden Trends

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ALCC Identifies Top 11 Landscape/Garden Trends for 2011

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Jazzing up small outdoor spaces is in for 2011

Find the right professional contractor for the job and use durable products that enhance property values, provide ease of maintenance and save money over the long haul.

You don’t need to look at a calendar to find the first day of spring. Trees turning green and bulbs peeking through the soil let us know it’s finally here. It’s time to start planning to plant. Before beginning, check out the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado’s (ALCC) annual top landscape and garden trends. The Top 11 in 2011 provides outdoor enthusiasts plenty to dig.

Top 11 Landscape Trends for 2011

1. Grow your groceries. Trips to the grocery store continue to get more expensive. Food prices increased 2.2 percent last month to record highs and it’s predicted that surging oil prices will continue to increase food costs. Why not defray some of those costs through a kitchen garden? Homegrown fruits and vegetables not only taste better, they can help the pocketbook as well. According to the National Gardening Association, a well-maintained food garden yields on average a $500 return. It also allows you to grow natural, vine-ripened produce.

2. ‘Fire and water’ do mix. Coloradoans love to spend time outdoors. A great way to increase your outdoor season is by adding the warmth of fire with an outdoor fireplace, fire bowl or fire pit. Added ambience can be created with a water feature such as a fountain, built-in stream or pond. Water adds visual appeal and soothing sound to mask city noise. Once considered luxury items, fire and water features are now more affordable and can create dramatic results.

3. Solid as a rock. Hardscapes are areas that use ‘hard’ materials, like natural stone or manufactured blocks to create patios, walkways and retaining walls. The color and composition of stone can dictate the tone and mood of a landscape. Many natural stones are quarried right here in Colorado and many blocks are also manufactured here--so ask if the material is a “local.” Since using the right material for your job gets the best result, consult with a professional to find out which materials best meet your needs.

4. Increase your home’s value by increasing ‘curb appeal.’ A recent SmartMoney article stated that landscaping could add up to 15 percent to a home’s value. According to the National Association of Realtors President-Elect, Walt McDonald, “When people ask me how they can get strong interest in their property, I always tell them to fix up their landscaping.” Whether you are looking to increase your home’s value or increase the chances of selling your home, investing in well-designed quality landscaping makes financial sense.

5. Small spaces can provide big enjoyment. Just because an outdoor space is small doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed. Skillful design can enhance the privacy of these areas and increase their functionality. Some creative Coloradoans have maximized their small spaces with outdoor kitchens, bar lounges, water features and planting walls that require no soil.

6. Perennials never go out of style. A perennial is the ‘little black dress’ of landscape design. They never go out of style and the add depth to any garden. Because they come back year after year, they provide a great return on investment. You can even divide overgrown plants and share them with a neighbor. Perennials that do well in Colorado include prairie zinnia, torch lily, golden flax, phlox and blanket flower.

7. Mix your veggies with flowers. It’s not only OK to mix vegetables with annuals and perennials, it makes your garden look fabulous. Certain flowers will also help protect your vegetables from bad insects, attract good ones and promote overall plant health. Mixing plants can also help economize space and reduce maintenance. Good flowers to mix in with your vegetables include zinnia, marigold, nasturtium, dahlia and lavender.

8. Light it up. Night lighting that highlights your house and landscape is one of the fastest-growing landscape innovations. Not only does it look great, but it increases home security. And new fluorescent and LED lighting options mean using less energy. LEDs now come in multiple colors, adding drama to your nightscape.

9. Simple is superb for container gardens. Containers can make show-stopping statements when set in entryways, balconies, patios or even in gardens. Non-complicated combinations of one to three plant varieties offer clean lines, a simple style and are an elegant alternative to a mish-mash of blooms. Try monochromatic combinations such as light green splashed with white for a cooling effect.

10. Therapeutic gardening feels good. The physical activity of gardening and the eye-pleasing results of your hard work benefit both your physical and mental health. Some gardens, like the award-winning Hewit Foundation Healing Garden at Littleton Adventist Hospital are specifically designed to relieve stress and promote mental tranquility. Asian-style gardens can be particularily calming and Zen. Gardening also is good for our bodies. The average female burns about 250 calories per hour gardening.

11. Doing it right the first time is the best bargain around. Homeowners who are watching dollars closely are wary of quick, cheap fixes that are short lived. Find the right professional contractor for the job and use durable products that enhance property values, provide ease of maintenance and save money over the long haul.

To find a qualified landscape professional or subscribe to ALCC’s lawn and garden “Tip of the Week,” visit http://www.alcc.com and click on ‘find a landscape pro’ or ‘tip of the week.’

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Chuck Montera

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