Ready to start dreaming of summer? Homeowners can transform their landscape into a backyard paradise by incorporating a combination of shade trees, blooming shrubs, and perennials into the landscape. In a well diversified landscape, homeowners can enjoy blooms throughout the spring, summer and well beyond the first frost, enjoy season changes in texture and color and protect their landscape from disease and pests. Most plants are characterized by their bloom times, so look for early spring, late spring summer and even fall blooming plants to stretch the color in your garden throughout the growing season.
It’s not only flowers that can transform a landscape into a backyard paradise. For homeowners that have lost a tree due to Emerald Ash Borer or that live in a new home, lack of shade can be a big problem. Adding a shade or ornamental tree can completely alter the look and feel of the yard. Take a look at the trees and shrubs below that are guaranteed to make a big impact in the landscape this spring and summer.
Best Trees in The Summer
Catch a breeze under the shady canopy of the Sienna Glen Maple. While this tree doesn’t have notable blooms, it certainly deserves to be recognized as a great summer plant. This fast growing shade tree is a new version of the Autumn Blaze discovered in Minnesota and selected for its improved frost crack resistance and hardiness. Enjoy the shade under the canopy of the Sienna Glen all summer long and then marvel as the leaves change from orange to red throughout the fall.
A great choice for an ornamental tree is the Royal Raindrops Crabapple. The gorgeous purple leaves add color to the landscape all season long and the hot pink spring blooms shout “Spring has Arrived”! This is a perennial favorite of landscape designers for color, beauty and the ability to thrive in the environment. If limited by size, try the dwarf version, the ‘Ruby Tears’ crabapple.
Best Shrubs in the Summer
Rhododendrons are a spectacular spring blooming shrub with color and blooms that can’t be beat. Traditional varieties require the perfect site to flourish and have a reputation of being hard to grow. The Boursalt and Lakeview Pink are grown from Inkahro rootstock, a new standard for rhododendron in our area, which makes them easier to grow. They also bloom in the shade, a major breakthrough in plant cultivation. If you’ve struggled with “Rhody’s” before give one of these a try. The 3-4” blooms demand to be plucked and tucked behind an ear as you enjoy summer cocktails on the patio.
The “Summer Ruffle” Rose of Sharon – This rose of Sharon is completely different from anything you’ve seen before. Its variegated leaf is dark green with a creamy white border but what sets it apart is the size. This is a miniature plant that only grows to 3-4’ wide and tall. It makes a great accent plant and can even be planted in containers on a deck or patio. The Summer Ruffle earns its name from the double ruffly blooms of pinky lavender that bloom all summer long.
A Great Summer Perennial
The breathtaking Midnight Marvel perennial hibiscus has blooms that look right out of a Tahitian paradise. The crimson flowers open to at least 8-9” each and are surrounded by deep purple glossy leaves. This is a show stopping plant that offer non-stop color all summer long and will continue blooming until the first frost.
Petunias are the Ultimate Summer Annual
Finally, summer isn't summer without the bold color of annuals. One of the most popular annuals is the petunia. But did you know not all petunias are the same??
There is a variety for every need and they are available in every color of the rainbow. The image above features a potted planter bursting with petunia blooms. To re-create this look, the petunia you are looking for is the Potunia.
A Potunia is a special breed of petunia with a more compact, mounded shape that makes it ideal for planters. The premium petunia blooms ferociously all season long and maintains its nice habit without any need for pruning.
Another option is the Sumo or Tidal Wave petunia. These petunias are GIANT and are ideal to fill a big hanging basket, large containers, and landscape beds. These XL premium petunias are available in 6" pots and grow to a height of 18-20 inches and spread of up to 35-55 inches! They vigorously bloom all summer long.
Finally, premium petunias carried in 4" pots offer the widest selection of color. They typically spread throughout the season and LOVE the sun! Keep all petunias watered and fertilized with Bloom Enhancer and they will create a rainbow of bright summer color in your landscape.
Creating a beautiful landscape is a fun winter project and there are many online tools that can help, including our PlantFinder Tool.