• 72°

Myers: Create your own low maintenance relaxation garden

Create an outdoor space to recharge. Transform a corner of your landscape into your own escape from deadlines and stress.

Use decorative fencing, curtains or plantings to define the space, creating a bit of privacy. Outdoor carpet, steppers or groundcover can also help define the space or create added comfort.

Provide protection from the blazing hot sun with a shade tree, pergola, umbrella or awning. Deciduous trees and vines add shade during hot summer months, but let sunlight shine through during the cooler months.

Grow plants suited to your climate and growing conditions. Use fewer varieties to provide unity and reduce maintenance. Planting All-America Selections winning plants (all-americaselections.org) that have been trialed across the Americas and selected for their performance will further reduce maintenance.

Other low maintenance plants include Interspecific Supra Pink and Jolt dianthus, whose flowers brighten the garden all summer long despite the heat and with no deadheading.

Add therapeutic fragrance to your space by growing some English Lavender lady. They flower just 90 days from sowing and are hardy in zones 5 to 9.

Perfume the air with blue Evening Scentsation petunia. Perfect for containers and hanging baskets, its fragrance peaks during the evening hours. Set a container of compact Deep Purple nicotiana nearby for a fragrant greeting in the evening.

Don’t forget to invite birds and butterflies into your sanctuary. Plant Tip Top Rose nasturtium to bring in the hummingbirds and butterflies. This compact plant boasts showy rose-colored flowers that bloom all season long. Summer Jewel Salvias include red, white, lavender and pink flowered weather tolerant beauties. You’ll enjoy the butterflies, hummingbirds and goldfinches they bring. Remember, being in nature lowers your blood pressure and improves your mood.

Extend your enjoyment into the evening by draping a string of lights over a pergola, arbor or tree. Lead the way to your retreat with some solar powered path lighting or lanterns. Also, some flowers shine during the darker hours. Gypsy White baby’s breath is a non-invasive species and has better branching and heat tolerance, making it an attractive low maintenance option. Mega Bloom Polka Dot vinca’s bright white flowers are a standout in the garden. Its pure white petals with bright pink center provide a nighttime glow as well as daytime interest.

Be sure to include a comfortable chair, hammock or glider to relax into the space. Add the soothing sound of water to help mask any unwanted noise.

Then grab a good book, your favorite beverage and escape to your own backyard retreat. You’ll leave the space refreshed and ready to embrace and enjoy whatever comes next.

Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” gardening DVD series and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio segments. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and was commissioned by AAS for her expertise to write this article. Myers’ web site is www.melindamyers.com.