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Adding height to your garden


Vertical elements in your garden add visual interest by drawing the eyes upward. These elements could be plants and trees, as well as gazebos, trellises and other architectural structures. Upright items are not only decorative, but also practical. In many cases they support colorful climbing vines and flowers.

By planting with the height of your elements in mind, your garden can be the envy of the neighborhood.

Architectural structures

As you walk through your garden, note where some additional height would add visual interest either by highlighting certain elements or defining spaces. Several types of architectural structures could do the trick.
Gazebos and pergolas are similar in that they are welcoming sites within the garden. By adding chairs or a bench, they become a place for reflection or chatting. They also can highlight a particular view.

Arches are an alternative that add a vertical element, but require less space than a gazebo or pergola. They’re effective along pathways, as they transition from one area to another. Also consider placing them where the landscape changes significantly, such as from a formal garden to a wildflower area.

Arches, pergolas and gazebos frequently have trellises attached to them to support climbing vines and flowers. Trellises also can be placed against light posts or porch posts. They also add depth and color when placed against bare walls

ObeliskAccent your garden with towers known as obelisks. These freestanding, narrow, open structures vary in height and can be used alone or in groupings of various heights. Many have decorative finials at the top. Like other structures, obelisks support climbing plants

Use your imagination when choosing structures. Sizes and materials are many. Styles vary from rustic to formal to whimsical. Hang mini-lights or seasonal decorations on them for added interest. And landscape around each of them, so it appears they've been in the garden all along.

Flowering and climbing vines

Once you've chosen the architectural elements, choose the appropriate plants to complement them. Vines and climbing flowers soften the structures and add color. Consider using a mix of perennials and annuals.

Roses, clematis, wisteria, passion flower, climbing hydrangea and honeysuckle are among the many options. Morning glories, moonflowers and black-eyed Susan vines also are popular, as is the trumpet creeper. Of course, gardeners often find a place for any of the green ivy varieties. Remember, some vines don't bloom the first year. Don't prune those varieties to ensure blooms the following year. Instead, simply secure the branches to the structure and train them to grow upward.

Plants and trees

Gardeners often use perennials as the foundation of their gardens and then add annuals. Some perennials can grow as tall as 12 feet, so planning is required to make the best use of their height. They're typically planted in clumps or groupings, rather than singly.

The numerous lily varieties offer a range of heights and colors. Globe thistle reaches four feet, while fox glove, golden globe, lupine and meadowsweet grow to six feet. Delphinium and Joe Pye weed reach eight feet. Hollyhocks and sunflowers soar to nine feet.

Shrubs and border plants offer the ability to build low or high visual effects and carve out spaces.

Trees also have a significant vertical impact in a garden. They not only add height, but also provide welcome shade for the flower varieties that prefer cooler garden spots. Flowering trees add yet another burst of color. Depending on the location and purpose, clusters or a single tree can be the right choice. Evergreens add another texture to your garden and provide color throughout the year

Tell us how you've added height to your garden in the comments section below. We'd love to hear your stories!


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