Focal Points: Attracting attention in the landscape.

Focal points can be implemented into your home landscape in many different ways. Here are a few examples of focal points in the garden!

  1. Solitary Objects
A larger than life garden trowel draws attention to this perennial garden filled with geranium and coneflower
Photo by: Plant Life Designs

2. Mass Plantings

Purple siberian iris is a show stopper in this suburban landscape. Select plant material that also creates movement in the landscape. The thin leaf blades on this iris sway in the wind beautifully.
Photo by: Plant Life Designs

3. Intentional Relationships

The relationship between the furniture and garden not only promotes and encourages conversation, but also makes a great focal point! The abundantly green landscape in the background is accentuated by the furniture in the foreground.
Photo by: Riley Glenn Photography

A Three Tier Option

We have all seen it, and we may even be living with it. The new construction homes being built these days incorporate a standard element; the wooden deck that towers over the yard as it is placed over the walkout basement. With this common deck design, lack of privacy, shade and even space can limit us from using and loving our outdoor living area. At Plant Life Designs we are always striving to maximize your outdoor living, and we have some ideas that will do just that!

Standard Deck Design. A relatively small deck, maybe 12’x12′ is positioned off the dining area of the home with steps going to the backyard.
Three Tier Option. We would propose removing the staircase and adding in a second tier deck for dining and entertaining. The original deck tier is great for cooking as it is typically located off the kitchen. Add in a couple chairs with your grill and you can chat with your friends as you cook burgers! The addition of the second tier accommodates dinner parties well and lowers the space for additional privacy. Stepping onto the ground level (the third tier) makes a cozy spot for intimate conversations over a spritzer, and also transitions well into the green space of the lawn.

Exciting to think about all the wonderful memories to be made with this new layout!

Offering Solutions

When we first visited this yard, our clients had just put on a new beautiful deck. After the construction on the deck was complete, the yard was left with a mix of river rock, some spotty turf and a pile of old materials from the renovation. With the grade change around the deck, we knew we had to get creative! Requests from the homeowner:
1) Coverage around the deck with plant material to draw your eye away from staring underneath.
2) A landing off the staircase for a nice transition from lawn to entertaining space

The rest was up to us!


With the grade change, we thought it would be so fun to create a nice crushed limestone rock walking path around the deck. By doing so, we could also create some larger areas for possible benches/chairs under the tree. It made sense to take out the turf from around the tree for ease of maintenance. With the selection of plantings around the deck we were able to offer some coverage over time, along with a variety of blooms! Roses, hydrangeas, grasses and perennial coreopsis offer a range of colors and low maintenance. The river rock remains under the deck to keep the weeds at bay, but we used a hardwood mulch for the health of the plants and to soften up the stone. A beautiful addition the the new deck!

White Winter Salad

Recipe taken from ’66 Square Feet’ by Marie Viljoen

Serves Six


5 cups of thinly sliced white vegetables (parsnips, turnips, radishes, etc)

1 Honeycrisp apple, cored and thinly sliced, sprinkled with lemon juice


2 TBSP fresh lemon juice


1/4 tsp sugar

fresh ground black pepper

5 TBSP walnut or hazelnut oil


2 heads of Belgian endive, leaves separated

1/3 cup pomegranate seeds


In a bowl, just before serving, whisk the lemon juice with salt to taste and the sugar until they are dissolved. Add pepper to your taste. Whisk in oil until dressing is lightly emulsified.

Using your hands, gently toss white vegetables and apple slices in the mixing bowl until they are covered with dressing. Heap the salad in the middle of a serving plate with the Belgian endive either in among the vegetables and fruit or around the edges. Scatter pomegranate seeds over top and serve at once.

Pictured is White Winter Salad with pomegranate, apple, turnip, radishes & endive.
Photo Credit: Plant Life Designs

A Wreath Class to Remember!

Our guests had a memorable evening in the greenhouse, learning and creating a fresh holiday wreath for their home.  We all enjoyed meeting new faces and seeing familiar ones.  It was definitely a night to remember.  Cheers to the holiday season and to “living among your plants”.

-Tara Dudley & Plant Life Designs


2018 Winter Wreath Festival

What a beautiful day kicking off the holiday season with friends, family and fresh greenery!  We always look forward to this event as it brings everyone together after the growing season for a time to reconnect before the winter season sets in.

Cheers to the holidays!

Festive Fall Containers


Mini pumpkins/gourds, floral foam, container, winterberry

  1.  Select a container from your home.  We recommend a boat-shape container for this recipe.
  2. Insert a brick of wet floral foam.
  3. Purchase a bundle of orange winterberry from your local floral supply store/grocery store.  You can also grow this variety in your landscape.  This specific variety is Ilex veritcillata Berry Heavy Gold.
  4. Insert twigs in a the center of the floral foam at varying heights.
  5. Cover the foam with an assortment of mini pumpkins and gourds!

Fall Inspiration


As I anxiously await for my newly planted ‘Limetta’ Hydrangeas  (a new introduction from Proven Winners) to fill in around my deck, I decided to add in some annual fall favorites this month.  This freshens up the space and also provides some wonderful color and texture to finish out the growing season here in Iowa.  I did a mix of purple aster, ornamental cabbage/kale and the annual fountain grass to brighten up the plant design.  All annuals, but I know I will fully enjoy them into the fall season!

   -Tara Dudley

Designer @ Plant Life Designs