How to Bring Your Landscape Design to Life

By Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp for Seattle Landscape Architect Brooks Kolb









A landscape that is truly alive teems with birds, bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. You can stand by the plants and see insects and birds flit from plant to plant, chomping on seeds and slurping up nectar.

Or perhaps along with pollinators, your landscape design has sculpture and other elements that add fun, surprises, and beauty to enliven the scene.
Here are five ways to bring your landscape design to life:


1. Select Plants to Attract Pollinators










Native birds and bees are hard-wired to seek out native plants for their seeds, pollen, nectar, and as host plants.

Monarch butterflies are a good example of using plants as hosts. These butterflies lay eggs only on milkweed plants (Aesclepias spp.). As the eggs hatch, caterpillars eat the leaves of the plants. As they develop, the caterpillars form a pupa, from which emerges the monarch butterfly.

Swallowtails have an appetite for edible plants like parsley, fennel, and dill. The butterflies lay eggs on these plants. The eggs hatch and the caterpillars follow the same life development as the monarchs.

Hummingbirds visit trumpet-shaped flowers of many colors, including reds, pinks, and blues. They love the flowers of fuchsia, a favorite landscape plant in Seattle.

If you’d like your home landscape to do a better job of attracting pollinators, Seattle Landscape Architect Brooks Kolb, ASLA, would be happy to recommend bird, bee, and butterfly-friendly plant selections.


2.  Add a water feature









A water source is the surest way to bring all types of wildlife to your Seattle home’s landscape. It can be something simple like a bird bath, or more complex, such as a flowing fountain or stream.

Moving water creates a pleasant sound for a calming and restful atmosphere for birds, wildlife, and you and your family. You will enjoy seeing birds swooping in to take a drink in your water feature.


3. Reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides










Avoid using pesticides to get rid of insects. Let nature take its course instead. Here’s why: Getting rid of insects in the landscape reduces food sources for birds, caterpillars, bees, and other beneficial critters.

A lot of times, just waiting a few days allows Mother Nature to step in and take care of the problem, just like a mom should.

For example, lady bugs – either the native or Asian ones – do a first-rate job of eliminating aphids. These predators usually arrive three or four days after aphids show up. Birds also like aphids. If you use an insecticide, those natural controls are lost.

If you absolutely must use a fungicide, be sure to use care when applying it. Fungicides are often deadly to bees, and some weed killers (herbicides) are toxic to insects and microorganisms. Always read and follow the label directions.


4. Have a seat










Place a bench where you can sit and watch insects and birds fly from plant to plant, or where you can hear a water feature.

Benches can be built from wood, metal, concrete, or plastic. They come in many colors and styles. Check that your bench’s material can withstand Seattle heavy rains. If opting for plastic, select heavier-grade product lines such as Polywood furniture Outdoor Patio Furniture – Made in The USA (, which can withstand strong winds.

Instead of a bench, maybe salvage a tree stump for a seat. Or use a stump as a nature-made table in the seating area, where you can enjoy the evening garden along with a refreshing drink.


5. Express Yourself  With Art










There are so many ways to add art to your Seattle home’s yard –– everything from fancy birdhouses to modern sculptures.

Art in your garden can be something you create or something you buy, and it can be as quirky or as formal as you wish. Attend a few garden tours to see what kinds of art people have in their landscapes, or visit public gardens and parks for inspiration.

Garden sculpture can be a focal point, or it can be placed so that it’s a surprise as you walk through the landscape. A stylish trellis, tuteur (vine trainer), or obelisk adds height and an artistic element to a garden bed. Installing a kinetic sculpture that moves in the wind can add a lot of drama and interest to your garden – just make sure you place it in a naturally windy spot.

Experiment with some of these ideas. If you need guidance on how to incorporate art and other natural elements to bring your landscape design consider contacting Seattle Landscape Architect, Brooks Kolb.

Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp is an award-winning garden writer, editor, and speaker. Known as a hortiholic, she frequently

says her eyes are too big for her yard. She blogs at
















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