Do you want a low-maintenance landscape that stays the same throughout your life? Sometimes we think that way. When you’re young, you buy the house and install the plants. Often, shrubs just come with the house when you buy it, then you add trees and flowers. What you think about is the colorful floral design, the growth of the trees to finally provide shade, and care of the lawn.
But in Elderyarding®, think about gradually moving shrubs to the forefront. Your landscape should change with you as you age. What’s “low maintenance” to you in your 40s will be a major effort in your 70s without careful planning.
- In your 50s, the kids get married and move out. You start thinking of an outdoor kitchen for relaxing and entertaining on an adult level. You can add shrubs that flower and have fall leaf color, and there is time and energy for pruning and fertilizing to keep them looking well. Start to streamline perennial flowerbeds that need extra care and thinning every few years.
...the photo at the top of this blog seems reasonable for now - these shrubs will need regular pruning but can be attractive year-round with their colorful blooms
- In your 60s, the grandchildren arrive. What you really want now is space to play with those grandkids. You may develop a few health problems and want to spend time gently exercising in the yard. Your sight begins to diminish. It’s time to evaluate the shrubs and remove those that are too old or too big and require too much maintenance. Think about low shrubs to replace some of the lawn, too. Move the maintenance work from flowerbeds and lawn to plantings at knee level and above.
- In your 70s, you want to do less in the yard. You’d rather sit and watch birds and butterflies because walking takes a lot of energy. You love color and enjoy flowers, adding containers closer to the porch to help your eyesight. Again, take stock of your shrubs. Maybe it’s time to mix them up a bit. Think about differing colors next to each other. Look for variegated shrubs rather than all solid green. Try shrubs that have blue or yellow or gray foliage in groups or masses to differentiate parts of the yard.
...below is an example of nice contrast with color at a distance and texture close up
- In your 80s, you need to exercise to keep up your strength to lift yourself and maintain the basic activities of daily life. You do tire more easily, though, especially if major health problems develop. Your sight dims. You like contrast to recognize and enjoy shapes and patterns in the landscape. At this point, you can consider your landscape one more time. Look for texture contrast. Junipers, for instance, are feathery and fine-textured. Placing a blue juniper next to a green broadleaf evergreen would be a way to use shrubs that take little care, for less and less maintenance, with substantial visual interest.
In the image below, notice the great red-green contrast. And wouldn't this be even nicer if that red tropical shrub had big soft grasses at its base for texture change, too, instead of the green shrubs?