Each spring I get excited about yard work. Why? Because gardening and landscaping help to bring out my creativity. It’s hard work. It’s mundane. And it’s repetitive. Yet working in the yard promotes creativity.
Often, when we think of creative works, we think of art, music, and photography. But architecture and design are also creative. Gardening and landscaping can be forms of architectural design.
Landscaping as Art
If you’ve ever been to an arboretum, you know that landscaping can be an art form in itself. Garden beds can be designed in a variety of shapes and sizes. The landscaper must make choices between varieties of trees, shrubs, and flowers. Ground cover can come in the form of plants, rocks, wood chips, or a variety of other options. Landscaping is a form of design.
When I first bought my home is 2013, there was little in the way of landscaping. So the following spring, I got busy. As one who likes to keep things simple, I decided to go the low-maintenance route. I also wanted a sparse, Asian-look to my front garden beds. So here’s what I did:
- I chose river rock as my ground cover.
- Trees include small Asian maples
- Shrubs include varieties that can be shaped.
- I included roses for simple, low-maintenance flowers.
- Plants are spaced apart for aesthetic appeal.
- I built a small rail fence for background.
This first project took several days of hard work. The hard work part might not seem very creative, but it is. Repetition and hard work help to settle the mind. Edging, digging, planting, and spreading rock are all meditative chores. Part of creativity is meditating on your own creation.
Building a Zen Garden
There was a small garden bed in the back corner of my house that was completely empty. I proceeded to plant a small shrub in that area. Soon, I found out why the garden bed was left dry. Water leaked into the basement. I brainstormed ways I could create something unique in that corner. Aha! I decided on a mini zen garden.
I spent a weekend digging the garden bed 8-10 inches deep. Then I added a weed barrier. Finally, I added medium-sized river rock with a white sandy lake in the center. I added a couple of larger sitting rocks. A small hand rake and hand broom are used as mini zen-garden tools. One can sit and meditate while raking patterns in the sand and balancing rocks. Designing the zen garden was creative. Now the garden promotes creativity. This is just another example of how gardening and landscaping can be creative ventures.
From Vegetables to Fruits
When I moved in, the back of the yard was overgrown with ivy. I spent weeks taking the ivy out. The following year I decided to plant a vegetable garden. Potatoes, corn, green beans and sunflowers were some of my staple choices. Again, one must practice creativity when choosing what to include in a vegetable garden. I let my daughter, Annie, help design the garden. But after two years, I decided vegetables were not for me. I wanted to design the back more like the front yard: lower maintenance.
So this spring I went to work. I’ve transformed the back garden bed into a small fruitopia. The space now includes two apple trees, two grape vines on white lattice, blackberries and raspberries. The ground is covered with wood chips. Soon, I’ll add a bench between the apple trees. It will be a great meditative space for years to come.
Don’t Overlook Gardening as a Creative Venture
Don’t sell gardening and landscaping short. You might not be creating a famous painting or a concerto, but the process is similar. One must make intentional design choices. Think of the land as your palette and the dirt, plants, tress, and rocks as your paint. The shovels, rakes, and hoes are your creative tools. With enough time and hard work, you can create a masterpiece.
Start your creative gardening or landscaping project today!