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It’s spring — and that means that it is time to start planting and caring for your garden, if you haven’t already. Now that it’s the season for blooms and flowers, many Americans are asking how they can make their garden stand out, and how they can do something markedly different from last year. Here are a few ideas:

Don’t Rely On Flowers For Color
When it comes down to it, many flowers bloom for just a few weeks — or about two months, if you’re lucky. Then all that’s left until next season are the plants’ leaves, which may not be all that remarkable. After all, very few gardeners choose flowers for their leaves. Out of the 164 million Americans (49%) who have gardened in the past year, more and more are advocating doing just that. More gardeners are selecting green leaves with yellow or white patterns, or even opting for relatively rare plants with purple, burgundy, and black leaves. That way, gardeners can rely on some color for the entire season. Others are adding a bit of variety and some pops of color with colored mulch, landscaping sand, landscaping rocks, decorative stones, and other oddities.

Don’t Take No For An Answer
Another way that people are departing from the norm is changing what exactly the term “garden” means. In the past, most people used the word garden to refer to a flower bed or a contained area (whether that area contained flowers, plants, or produce). Now, gardens may encompass the entire lawn — or, on the opposite side of the spectrum, miniature gardens may be contained in pots and planters. And some neighbors are banding together to ask property management companies or counties to lift ordinances that would prevent them from planting a lawn of sustainable plants or wildflowers. With an increasing interest and awareness of green initiatives, the case for these wildflower lawns — i.e., lawns that use considerably less water than traditional grass — is even stronger.

Whether you go it alone or work with one of the 888,426 U.S. men and women working in the landscaping industry, mix things up this year with colorful leaves, colored mulch, and decorative stones — and, if you have your heart set on a sustainable plant-covered lawn, don’t take “no” for an answer. See if there is anything you can do or say about that local ordinance.