Northeastern homeowners can choose landscape plants and designs for all four seasons. Spring blooms give way to the shade trees of summer, whose fall foliage presents an autumnal palette of colors. Even in the dead of a northeastern winter, evergreens provide greenery, even if wearing snow caps. Consider low-maintenance plantings that let you admire the landscape rather than constantly work on it.
Most hardwood trees thrive in Northeastern climes. Maples are a popular choice for landscapes, with a variety of sizes and leaf colors. Sugar maples do well in moist soils, and their sap can be tapped for producing maple syrup. The Norway maple, although a European native, is a popular regional shade tree. Choose from several types of oak trees for landscapes, including the pin, scarlet, black and white types. The bark of silver or white birch trees accents the garden. The American chestnut was once the dominant tree in Northeastern forests, but blight wiped out most mature trees by the mid-20th century. Today, the American Chestnut Foundation is trying to restore this tree to its native habitat.
Shrubs can serve as hedgerows, replacing the need for fencing along property lines. For security purposes, plant a thorned shrub such as the hawthorne. Classic Northeastern hedge shrubs include boxwood and yew. For those who want to be creative, these shrubs can also be formed into topiary.
Brighten up the landscape with flowering plants. In spring, azaleas provide two weeks of bloom in colors ranging from white, pink or lavender, then remain evergreen for the rest of the year. Flowering dogwood, often seen in Northeastern landscapes, comes in shades of pink or white. Yellow forsythia bushes are a sign that winter is over and spring has begun. Plant crocus bulbs in the lawn. They'll grow up and bloom in early spring, before lawn mowing is necessary.
Plant evergreens and guarantee some color in the winter landscape. Remember to consider the mature size of the evergreen when adding it to the landscape garden, as many species grow quite large or require pruning to keep them neat looking. Use evergreens to create private backyard areas or for general screening. The University of Minnesota Extension recommends "using the fewest possible varieties of evergreen plants and select them for an obvious purpose." In the Northeast, various types of pines, cedars, spruces and hemlocks are often found in landscaping.
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