Green Thumb – A Garden with Good Bones

July 16, 2020

From April to October, we enjoy our flower gardens. We find their over all visual appearance pleasing. What if all the flowers were removed from the garden? Would our garden areas still be appealing or would they be lacking in form and design?

One of the easiest ways to bring a good design element to the garden is to introduce appropriate size structures to our landscape. Structures provide our gardens with “good bones” even if all the flowers were to disappear.

The Trellis

One of the most basic structures for the garden is the trellis which offers a variety of shapes and sizes. This structure will add height and interest and is especially efficient in small garden spaces. Annual and perennial vines are well suited for use on a trellis. More than one vine can be displayed for color interest to continue throughout the seasons. A classic combination for a trellis is the combining of climbing roses with clematis vines.

The Arbor

The garden arbor or arch serves many functions in the landscape. It can be an attractive and charming entry path into your garden area. Arbors with a bench seating component can create a shady retreat for relaxation on a hot day. The use of fragrant climbing plants such as roses, jasmine or honeysuckle on arbors presents a pleasing aroma to visitors as they enter your garden.

The Pergola

Now lets meet the multi-task specialist of the garden structure world–the pergola.This structure serves as a large, anchor element in the garden landscape. The pergola is comprised of two, strong up right panels that support a sturdy, overhead canopy. If both side pieces are built with wooden trellis lattice, climbing plants will have plenty of space to grow. Many activities can take place on a pergola.

The included pergola photo shows an example of how this structure can be used. Sweet Autumn clematis and wisteria vines cover the outside areas while four smaller clematis, three hanging baskets, a garden cart and, tucked in a corner hidden from view, bird nesting sites complete the versatility and functional use of a pergola. What more could you ask? The pergola has it all.

Other Garden Accessories

Depending on the size and focus of your landscape, fences, walls and gates can be a great backdrop for some of your favorite garden accessory elements. If you are working in a small space, you might want to consider smaller structures such as birdbaths, gazing balls on pedestals, obelisks, planted containers and small benches.

Garden structures accentuate and enhance your over all landscape appearance. They provide dramatic focal points, elevate through the use of vertical accents, provide seating and serve as fragrant entryways to your garden. Function and charm flourish in a garden with “good bones.”

Barb Lindholm – University of Illinois Extension, DeKalb County Master Gardener

Got a Gardening Question?

Gardening questions can be emailed to uiemg-dekalb@illinois.edu. The Master Gardener Help Desk is closed due to the coronavirus.


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