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  • Writer's pictureTeam Pinto

Creating a Summer Oasis: Instagram Worthy Backyard Landscaping Ideas for Your Waterloo Region Home

As the golden warmth of summer spreads across the Waterloo Region, it's time for most of us to explore the great outdoors again. Not only is it a great way to soak up all that health-boosting vitamin D from the sun, but it's also a perfect opportunity to revamp your outdoor space.

Whether you're considering selling your Waterloo Region home or simply want to create a space to enjoy the sunshine and host your summer get-togethers, an inviting outdoor area is key. Plus, a beautifully landscaped backyard can impress potential buyers and neighbors alike.

But what if you feel daunted by the beautiful gardens seen on Instagram and TikTok, thinking you lack the green thumb to create something similar? The good news is, there are several popular backyard landscaping ideas that are easier to implement than you'd imagine, yet have the power to transform your backyard into a stunning oasis.

Let's explore a few landscaping themes that not only add a 'wow' factor but are also fairly easy to maintain and popular with Waterloo Region home buyers.

English Country Garden

The English country garden exudes a romantic and lush landscape design, bursting with an organic mix of plants and vibrant flowers. Developed in 18th-century England, it was a rebellion against the more rigid "architectural gardens" of that era. Tall plants, short plants, pink blooms, white flowers—every variety has a place in an English garden, a garden theme often now also referred to (especially on Instagram and TikTok) as cottagecore.

This style embraces a free-flowing design, but it does require some care to ensure all your plants get enough sunshine and aren't overcrowded. Also, don't forget to utilize the vertical space. You can add a trellis, or drape wisteria and high-flying vines around a shed or other structure. Here are some plants that thrive in Ontario's climate and fit well with an English garden:

  • Delphinium - Tall, colourful flowers perfect for adding height to your garden.

  • Rambling Rose - These climb structures and offer pink blooms in clusters, attracting butterflies.

  • Peony - Unique blooms add elegance and a lovely fragrance.

  • Hollyhocks - Tall perennials with a range of colours, great for attracting pollinators.

  • Lavender - Fills spaces between other plants, smells great, and can be used for homemade potpourri.

Woodland Garden

A woodland garden is an enchanting choice if your backyard is already home to a variety of trees. It's all about mimicking the natural growth in a forest or woodland area, making it a great option if you're looking for a low-maintenance landscape theme that still holds its charm even if it goes a bit wild.

One of the defining features of a woodland garden is the use of layers. The canopy layer consists of taller trees like oaks or maples that provide shade. The understory includes smaller trees and shrubs, such as dogwoods or holly. The herbaceous layer includes shade-tolerant perennials like ferns and hostas, while the ground layer can be covered by a carpet of moss or low-lying plants.

Creating a woodland garden involves using native plants that thrive under the canopy of existing trees. A combination of native shade-loving shrubs, understory plants, and a wide variety of ferns and wildflowers can replicate the dense and diverse undergrowth of a natural forest.

Consider adding:

  • Trillium - An iconic woodland plant that flowers in the spring.

  • Jack-in-the-pulpit - A unique, hooded flower that loves damp, wooded areas.

  • Ferns - Ferns of different varieties can give your woodland garden a lush, green look.

Add a path with stepping stones or a layer of bark to guide visitors through your woodland garden, and perhaps include a bench or seating area where you can sit and enjoy the dappled sunlight.

Butterfly Gardens

Butterfly gardens not only add a splash of color and vitality to your backyard but also provide a habitat for butterflies, which are excellent pollinators. These gardens contain plants and flowers that cater to the life cycle of butterflies, offering places for them to lay eggs, for caterpillars to feed, and for butterflies to sip nectar.

While planning a butterfly garden, focus on selecting a mix of nectar-producing plants for adult butterflies and host plants for caterpillars. It's also beneficial to have a variety of plants that bloom at different times to attract butterflies throughout the season.

Some plant options for a butterfly garden include:

  • Milkweed - This is the only plant where Monarch butterflies lay their eggs and the caterpillars feed. Plus, the bright flowers attract adult butterflies.

  • Asters - These late bloomers provide nectar in the fall.

  • Purple Coneflowers - These native plants are loved by a variety of butterfly species.

  • Parsley, Dill, or Fennel - These are great host plants for Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars.

  • Also, consider adding a few flat stones where butterflies can bask in the sun, and a shallow dish of water or a mud puddle for them to drink from and extract minerals.

With a woodland or butterfly garden, you can transform your backyard into a magical retreat that's also beneficial for local ecology. These natural landscapes can provide a unique selling point for potential buyers looking for a home with a beautiful, low-maintenance yard.

Japanese Garden

If you're drawn to the tranquility, simplicity, and natural beauty that characterizes Japanese landscapes, then a Japanese-style garden could be the perfect backyard oasis for your Waterloo Region home. This minimalist approach to landscaping emphasizes balance, harmony, and serenity, and usually requires less maintenance than more floral-heavy designs.

Central features of a Japanese-style garden often include carefully positioned rocks or stones that represent islands or mountains in a seascape, an element of water (or representations of water) such as a pond, a stream, or a gravel bed, and lush, long-lasting evergreens that bring a sense of permanence and tranquility.

Paths and bridges are also common features. These can be designed to guide visitors on a symbolic journey through the landscape and encourage mindfulness and contemplation. Lanterns and other forms of subtle lighting can add a warm ambiance to your garden, particularly in the evenings.

When it comes to plant life, Japanese gardens often emphasize greenery over flowers, with well-manicured shrubs and trees, such as azaleas and maples, forming the backbone of the design. Still, there are certain blooms that can enhance this garden style:

  • Azaleas - These have long been prized by Japanese gardeners for their trumpet-shaped spring flowers. Modern hybridizers have developed reblooming azaleas that bloom throughout the growing season, providing extended color and interest.

  • Japanese Irises - These plants thrive in areas that remain moist throughout the year. The Iris ensata variety is a particularly good choice, producing spectacular flowers on stalks up to 5 feet tall.

  • Ornamental Cherry Trees - These trees provide four seasons of beauty. Their spring blooms, which typically have an almond scent, attract bees emerging from hibernation. Bright green leaves follow, and in fall and winter, the tree's bark becomes a striking feature.

  • Moss - Often used as a ground cover in Japanese gardens, moss creates a carpet of green that gives a sense of age and tranquility to the space.

  • Bamboo - Bamboo can serve as a privacy screen or as an accent in the garden. Its rustling leaves add a soothing sound to the garden, promoting peace and tranquility.

A Japanese garden is not just about the physical elements but also about the philosophy behind their arrangement. Concepts like 'Shakkei' or 'borrowed scenery' involve using the surrounding landscape to naturally frame views from the garden. And 'Wabi-sabi' or the art of finding beauty in imperfection, is often applied in the arrangement of stones, water, and plants.

With careful planning, a Japanese garden can transform your backyard into a serene retreat that offers a respite from the busy world and a connection with nature.

Whichever garden theme you choose, the most important aspect is to enjoy the process. Gardening is not only about enhancing your backyard; it's a therapeutic activity that connects you with nature and brings tranquility. And yes, it's all great Instagram fodder!

Investing in your outdoor space could make a difference when selling your home, offering the curb appeal buyers often seek. If you're considering buying or selling a home in the Waterloo Region, working with Team Pinto can make the process smooth and successful. Get in touch with us today to take the first step towards achieving your real estate goals.


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