By Bev Johnson

Master Gardener

Take a look at your yard from the street. Does it look kind of, bland? Is the only color the green foundation plants? Can you still see the front door through the bushes around it? Does the picture window look out on the back side of an over grown conifer? If that’s the case, maybe you need to do a little landscaping and this is the time of year to do it.

Your first step is to remove any foundation plants that are closer to you house than 4 feet. They are most probably rubbing on the house and the roots can endanger the structure of your basement, the siding and, if they are too tall, your shingles.  The next step is to take a walk though your local nursery. It should give you a whole new look at hardy colorful shrubs and trees.

Start with accent colors. If you want some blue to match your front door, (blue doors are an indication that you have an unmarried daughter), start with an Arrowood Viburnum.  It has bright blue berries this time of year. 

Dogwoods also have blue berries now and if you want a real contrast, look at the red twigged dogwood.  She has red branches, beautiful white flower clumps in the spring and and in the fall, blue berries. A Pagoda dogwood is a perfect accent to make a tall house look a bit shorter. She stays short and wide and has the same white booms and blue berries.

Maybe you need some purple to accent your yellow house. There are several shrubs to choose from. Diablo ninebark and Canada red chokecherry are two. The chokecherry has a reddish- purple bark, blooms white and in summer and later, grape like clumps of red berries. Spilled Wine Wegela is listed as a zone 4 but keep her out of the northwest winter wind and she should do fine. She’s about 3×3 in size and is covered with dark purple/red flowers in summer with some rebloom all summer. 

If you have a lot of evergreens in your yard, you may need some red to offset it. Staghorn sumac not only turns red but has a very interesting berry clump in the fall.  Double Play Doozie spirea not only has a red flower, she blooms most of the summer.  Then there are the barberries. One has leaves that turn bright yellow. Another has red leaves and a similar variety has red and pink mottled leaves. A fragrant pick is Summer Sweet. The flowers are pink and white and smell delicious. 

For winter color in any yard, look at Winterberry. It keeps its pink to red berries until the birds strip it. High bush cranberry, a native shrub, also keeps its berries most of the winter. Mountain Ash, a medium sized tree, blooms with huge umbels of white in the spring. These turn to clumps of orange/red berries in the fall. Robins and Cedar Waxwings love the berries and if they don’t strip the tree in the fall, they will come back in the spring and eat the now fermented berries and get falling down drunk.

All the shrubs that have berries of any color, are bird attractors giving your two for one: a pretty yard and a grocery store for the birds.

Now is a good time to plant trees and shrubs. They will have enough time to get well rooted before winter. Just remember you will need to water the snot out of them until a hard freeze.

Do add color to your yard. An all green landscape is boring unless you happen to be a Leprechaun.