The Perennial Plant Association’s 2022 Perennial Plant of the Year is Schizachyrium scoparium and cultivars. Little bluestem is a spiky, tough and dependable clumping grass with a superior, tight, upright habit. It blends well with perennials such as asters, sedums, coneflowers, and other grasses. Native to a broad swath of North America, it was one of the dominant grasses of the vast tallgrass prairies.
‘Standing Ovation‘ is a cultivar that works extremely well in Lakes Region Gardens. It puts on three seasons of color starting with a bluish leaf, with a deeper purple tone towards the base in summer. Small, tan seed heads also appear in late summer. Then in fall, desert sunset shades of red, orange and purple take over. When the weather turns wintery, the grass dries to a pretty wheat gold. These blades are thicker than those of most other Schizachyrium, which means they stay upright—a great vertical accent for a garden border. Alternatively, you could plant it as a screen for unsightly things in the landscape like a gas meter. Because it changes colors, it can fit into a few different color palettes. You can also dry it for long-lasting interior décor. This grass does well in a wide range of soils. It’s especially handy for soils that dry out quickly, because it is drought tolerant. Be sure to make room in your Lakes Region garden plan for some Schizachyrium scoparium. You’ll be glad you did!
Size: 2-3′ tall x 15-18ʺ wide
Blooms: Late summer to fall
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to xeric
Hardiness: USDA zones 3-8
Pairs well with:
• Cone flower – all varieties
• Shasta daisy – all varieties
Spring is almost…. well… somewhere around the corner. And before long, your time will be filled with backyard barbeques and late summer nights outdoors with family and friends. For many homeowners, a new or renovated patio is at the top of their wish list and winter is the perfect time to plan if you want to use your new hardscape this season.
A patio is often the hub of a home’s outdoor environment. The shape and size of your patio may be limited by a few factors such as the style of your home, where you would like it on your property, and your budget. Here are a few things you may want to consider when you’re dreaming about your new patio:
How do you think you will use the space? Will you be dining with family or entertaining a crowd – maybe a little of both? Knowing this will help you prioritize features. An area for a dining table and a second area for comfortable seating would accomplish both things. The addition of a fire pit or fireplace would create a focal point for relaxed gatherings. Make a list of everything that you want in your new or renovated patio starting with the ‘must-have’ features and prioritize all the other elements including the very extravagant. Even if they don’t make it in the initial build, it’s nice to have a plan for where you might add these features as time goes on. And don’t overlook the old adage, ‘location, location, location.’ It may make sense right outside the back door if dining is the main focus. But if chilling out by a fire is what you’re thinking, then perhaps in a quiet out of the way corner of your property. Keep in mind that permits are often required, so be sure to ask about this when you meet with your landscape contractor.
Which materials catch your eye? Bluestone is one of the most popular materials used for patios in our area. It is strong and versatile and holds up well in our climate. Pavers, once very limited in size, shape and color, have come a long way and really allow the designer to personalize the patio to match the surrounding landscape. Permeable concrete pavers are similar to traditional concrete pavers. Permeable pavers are individual concrete pieces that fit together in a pattern. The difference between permeable pavers and traditional pavers is that the spaces between each paver, known as the joints, are designed to allow water to flow through them. The base that the paver system is built on is made up of layers of clean crushed stone that varies in size and depth, depending on the site and volume of water. These pavers are well suited for patios and walkways. They come in a wide variety of colors, patterns & textures. The benefit of using permeable pavers is that because they allow water to percolate through them they do not count against your impervious surface total, which can be highly regulated, especially on lakefront properties here in the lakes region of New Hampshire. In fact, utilizing a permeable paver system can actually reduce the overall impervious percentage on your site.
What is your budget? There are many things to consider in a budget. Material costs vary enormously. In general, natural stone is more expensive. Bricks and concrete pavers can be less expensive, depending on how complex the design or material options you choose. The addition of walls, walkways, steps and outdoor kitchens can dramatically increase the cost of the project.
What’s your timeline? Any well-thought out project takes time. There are several phases that must be planned and coordinated. From demolition to material reuse to maintenance down the road, there are many facets to address in the overall hardscape plan.
Spend some time on design websites such as Pinterest or Houzz. There are lots of great garden magazines as well. The possibilities are endless and you are sure to see something that will inspire you.
The Miracle Farms design-build process makes every customer a part of the team. When dreaming of your backyard patio design you are limited only by your imagination. Together, with the help of our talented team, we will create the perfect outdoor living space for your family to enjoy all season long while also boosting the value of your home.
So don’t wait – there’s no time like the present to give us a call and start planning your patio project.