The toughest test yet for the Midwestern Landscaper is winter. Temperatures
drop below freezing and stay there. Sometimes it is brutally cold and dry.
Other times wave after wave of heavy wet snow blanket the trees and perennials.
Limbs break and you don't know if your favorite perennial will survive the
cold, snow and the salt.
North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan have little sunshine
in winter and the temperature stays below freezing for months. Southern
Illinois, Iowa, Ohio and Indiana can have periods of extreme cold punctuated
with warming temperatures into the 50s, 60s and even the 70s in late February.
The ground in this area heaves up and down with each wild change.
Issues that Affect Gardens and Home Landscapes in the Midwest
These are all issues that affect the home gardeners and landscapers in the
Midwest. It doesn't matter if you are from Chicago, Indianapolis, Des Moines,
Kansas, Minneapolis or Grand Forks. The Midwest landscape has special
challenges that keeps your interest year after year. The most exciting time of
the year is Spring when you get back out into the still wet and soggy back yard
and take stock of the results of winter.
Then the thrill you get when the plants and perennials you knew were dead, pop
their little green heads out of the dirt and begin their journey to the
sunlight. Yes, you need many different resources to help your garden survive
the Midwest weather and to bring you joy and happiness.
Perennials Suited for the Midwest Garden
As spring begins to awaken the midwest garden you find a wide range of plants
can add color to the landscape. Star Magnolias, Tulips, Irises begin the spring
explosion of beauty. You can also grow Dutchman's breeches and bloodroot in
this environment. Summer will show off the catmint, Salvia, Black eyed Susans,
Many people vacation in the fall in the Midwest to enjoy the beauty of the fall
colors. The trees begin to change over from green to yellow to reds and
crimson. Burning bushes start their colorful displays. Grasses begin to take
over the eyes of interest in your backyard.
Trees that work in the midwest include the River Birch, Austrian Pine, many Oak
varieties, and Maples. For spring color look for Irises, Allium, Astilbes,
Clematis, Rhododendron, Salvias and flowering Crabapples. Spring quickly
changes to summer where you can find flowers on your favorite Catmint,
Columbine, Daisies, Hostas, Jacob Ladder, Spirea, and Coreopsis. Look for
summer blooms on Yarrow, ConeFlowers and Black Eyed Susans. The fall cooler
weather will show off the Burning Bush, Stonecrop or Sedum, Rose of Sharon, and
the ButterFly bush.
You can plan for wonderful color throughout the spring, summer and fall. Plan
carefully for winter as you can watch the snow build up on Globe Blue Spruce,
many Grasses, and see the color of the Red Twig Dogwood. The Midwest is home to
all these perennial varieties. For more information on what is available in
your area, check out any of these books on this page.
Environmental Concerns of the Midwest Landscape
As you plan your landscape you have to be aware of the environment your plant
will be exposed to throughout the year. Will the perennials be sitting next to
the road? Many Midwestern States use salt to keep the roads clear through the
winter months. Can your perennial survive the salt and road debris that will
pummel it in winter?
Many factories exist in Midwestern cities and could be a source of air bourne
pollutants. When these particulates fall from the sky with rain or snow what
effect will they have on your newly planted landscape? You may want to rinse
leaves off throughout the season to keep them healthy. Many insects will feast
on your plants and you need to be vigilant in watching for warning signs of
insects and take action to keep your garden healthy.
Minnesota claims to have 10,000 lakes, Illinois has rich black dirt which makes
for wonderful farmland. Many areas are swampy, wetlands. Excess rain and snow
has caused many a midwestern creek and river to overflow their banks. This
creates wet areas that require special care or specific plants that thrive in
wetlands. You may want to find ways to move excess water off the property. Many
plants like their roots to be well drained.
From Bogs to prairies the midwest offers a wonderful opportunity to enjoy
nature and all it can offer in color, smells and beauty. Take the time to find
out more about your specific state or area of the Midwest. Grab one of these
books and see how to make your garden landscape shine for the community.
Resources for Midwestern Landscapes
I have tried to find resources of interest for you if you live in the
Midwestern United States.