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.
"It's a British thing," she said. "I've been doing it all my life."
The so-called rooms are separated by hedges or fences, and they are designed to pique one's interest, Skellchock said.
"They wonder what's around the corner," she said. "When you look out your window, there should be something that intrigues you."
Another big trend in the world of gardening and landscaping is to use native plants, Crisler said.
"The advantage of using native plants, including white and river birches and blueberry plants, is that they will thrive with minimal care," she said.
"Another big trend is to plant a variety of shapes in an architecturally pleasing manner," Crisler said, "and using colors, including leaf colors, that will add flow, including shrubs with good foliage with interesting colors, including chartreuse and red."
Ornamental grasses are also growing in popularity, she said. "There are 40 or 50 varieties of ornamental grasses, and they add so much, including vertical appeal and structure to the garden."
Both Crisler and Skellchock said replacing grass with alternative ground covers is also becoming popular.
Whether it's mulch, or decorative stone or gravel, the covers are attractive and reduce the amount of grass a homeowner has to care for and mow.