After a long tough winter, Minnesotans are ready reclaim the fresh air and natural spaces of their yards. Sure, the grass is matted and garden beds are disheveled, but it’s all a canvas for your imagination. With a few tools, supplies, and a little sweat, you can turn it into a colorful oasis for relaxation, play, and a socially distanced garden party or two. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Transform the Front Yard
Until recently, front yards were strictly ornamental. A few bushes; a smattering of flowers; and maybe a lawn gnome to keep the maple tree company. Then the pandemic happened, and this overlooked space became a nexus for spontaneous, safe gatherings with friends and neighbors. Some emerging trends for revitalizing your front lawn include:
- Firepits circled with comfortable camp chairs or, if budget permits, stone pavers and masonry seating walls
- Bistro-style table and cushioned outdoor chairs
- Walkways bordered with bright flowers, bushes, and attractive ground-cover plants
- Bird feeders help wildlife and bring beautiful visitors to your yard
- White picket fence that frames the perimeter
And don’t forget about the porch. Cover that concrete slab with a colorful outdoor rug. Add a rustic touch with a vintage accent table topped with a vibrant potted fern. And turn your front door into a beacon for good times with a coat of bold primary color. And paint those shutters to match! String some party lights overhead and let the good times roll!
Bring the Indoors Out and the Outdoors In
Make the most of Minnesota’s precious sunny seasons by blurring the boundaries between indoor and outdoor living space. Whether you’re on a tight budget or have big dreams and the money to match, there are many ways to create seamless flow between your indoor sanctuary and private outdoor haven.
- Add an outdoor couch and other lounge furniture to the patio or deck
- Create a private courtyard with a vine-covered or glass-roofed pergola
- Bring the natural vista inside by installing expansive accordion or sliding-glass doors or full glass walls
- Build an outdoor kitchen replete with a gas or charcoal grill or smoker with generous counter and workspace
- Bring a touch of Florida to Minnesota with an outdoor bar
- Enjoy your own private spa with a jacuzzi or hot tub
- Stretch the season into fall and beyond with an outdoor heating lamp on the deck or patio
Create a Garden Fit for a Party
Not only do gardens enhance your yard with color and beauty, they can also grace your table with fresh veggies, herbs, and fruit from spring through fall. When well designed, gardens create focal points and can make even the smallest yard seem bigger than its actual size.
- Use raised beds to elevate flower or vegetable gardens
- Create curving walkways between garden beds with stone pavers
- Soften the hard lines of a patio slab with a border of flowers or prairie grass
- Bring life to the deck with decorative terracotta urns planted with herbs
- Make a fountain, pond or other water element the center of a garden
Pro Tip : Make a plan or sketch showing all the elements you want to incorporate, from raised beds to walkways, border plants, and patio. This helps you see the complete “canvas” of your backyard composition before you break ground.
Landscape for Year-Round Beauty
Minnesota’s winter doesn’t have to end enjoyment of your home’s outdoor spaces. By choosing the right mix of evergreens, perennials, and ornamental grasses, you can take in heart-warming views from your windows, even when it’s far too cold to venture outside.
Select a mix of plants with different heights, silhouettes, textures and colors. Pines spruces and cedars are evergreen, look stunning after a snowstorm, and light up the holidays when you add strings of lights. Ornamental grasses with feathery heads are radiant in the winter sun. Wintergreen Boxwoods are broad-leafed evergreen shrubs that can be pruned into French-garden-style geometries or left wild and bushy for a touch of English-cottage warmth. Some other plants to consider for you winter landscape include:
- Paper Bark Maple with attractive exfoliating bark
- Ground-covering Pachysandra for a lush green carpet
- Winterberry Holly with round orange berries
- Cheery green Hellebores that flower brilliantly in early spring