EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


April 15, 2008

Focus: Backyard makeovers growing in popularity

Backyard makeovers, which continue to gain in popularity, can feature everything from streams of water, stone walkways and arbors, to a variety of shrubs and other plants and flowers.

"The objective is to have a retreat in your own yard where you can sit and enjoy the outdoors and entertain your friends," certified master gardener Margaret Crisler of Windham, N.H., said. "Water has become a featured part of it — more than ever before — in some kind of a structure, usually a small waterfall into a small body of water, so you can hear the murmur of the water."

"It's really quite fun," said Crisler, whose property has been featured in Windham Garden Club's fundraising tours. "My own yard includes several retreats: places to sit and enjoy nature."

Whether it's a backyard or front yard, makeovers can be anything that makes your property look better, said Jean Skellchock of Windham, who has been gardening all her life.

A big part of landscaping is to create privacy for a homeowner, she said.

"You need your space," Skellchock said, "and landscaping is an important aspect in creating privacy."

Her own property, about two acres, includes a woodland garden with winding paths and a variety of plants, including green groundcover and hostas.

"Another big thing is to look at your yard as having 'rooms,' separate rooms, and you go from one to the other to have different experiences," Crisler said. "You might have one that is bright and sunny and full of flowers, and you could have another one that is more shady and perhaps has a stone wall with different features."

For Skellchock, the idea of having "rooms" in her yard is nothing new.

She said this landscaping technique has its roots in England, where she is from.

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