Creating an Urban Forest

Do you know trees actually do better with a friend?  Take a stroll through a nearby forest some afternoon and pay special attention to the placement of the trees, their proximity, and how well they are growing. The forest can be a great guide as we grow within our home landscape.   Trees planted closer together will benefit one another more as apposed to trees planted on either side of your property.

(Photo taken at Southwoods Park in West Des Moines)Bare trees and leaves on the ground

Trees have the ability to communicate with one another and can also share resources.  For example, a douglas fir tree and a birch tree can transfer carbon between them via mycelia (the vegetative part of the fungus in the soil).

To learn more, check out this Ted Talk!



“Spring Greens” Plantone Club Launch

What a beautiful evening it was for the first Plantone Club here at Plant Life Designs.  Our members enjoyed a delicious salad they prepared out of the cookbook we featured, ‘Salad for President’.  Karen Davis, our guest chef gave us some helpful kitchen tips, as well as a great way to use baby kale in a festive shamrock colored smoothie.  We also learned how to incorporate edible viola flowers into an infused water!  Everyone had a great time meeting new friends, tasting beautiful micro-greens from our local farmer at Dogpatch Urban Gardens and took home a beautiful cookbook, along with a pot of micro-greens for more salad inspiration throughout the growing season.

Become a member today for only $70/month!

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salad plate with greens and viola flowers A table set with a salad buffet A bowl of ice water infused with oranges and flowers Lunch buffet with a recipe book

New Plants for 2018!

White hydrangea
Wee White’ Hydrangea Abundant flowers, strong stems, white bloom, very compact. 2′ x 2′. Full Sun.
peach roses
Rosa At Last. Fragrant, orange blooms on glossy green foliage. Full Sun. 3’x3′.
White Dwarf Goatsbeard
‘Noble Spirits’ Dwarf Goatsbeard White airy blooms on fern like foliage. 12″x12″. Full Shade.



Lime green Hydrangea
‘Limetta’ Hydrangea. Lime green blooms. Full Sun. 3’x3′.














New Plants for 2018!


Saturday April 28th from  9am-Noon


2018 Perennial Plant of the Year

Bunch of Purple Millennium
‘Millennium’ Allium has been named perennial plant of the year for 2018. With it’s compact growth habit and long lasting purple blooms in mid summer, it is a must for every sun-loving garden and gardener! This variety will reach 12-18″ tall and 18-24″ wide, and brings in bees and butterflies to your garden. As if that wasn’t enough, it is also deer resistant! Order yours today and we will have it ready for pick up at our “Plant Pick Up Party” on April 28th from 9 am-Noon.





Millennium Allium

Two Year Anniversary



Young women with black dog in the snowThis week, I celebrate the two year anniversary of taking the leap and buying an acreage to expand Plant Life Designs, the business I started back in 2006 while I was living in a two bedroom townhouse in Ankeny, IA.  Plant Life Designs started as a design-only business and couldn’t quite gain enough traction before 2008 hit and the economy was going through a recession.  In 2008, I picked up another full time position designing and learning how to install projects with a company out of Ames, while still pursuing freelance work through Plant Life Designs.  After three years, they decided to close abruptly and pursue other opportunities.  In 2011 Plant Life Designs launched again full time as a design/install company.  After a couple years, I moved to Windsor Heights where I ran the business out of a 1936 story and a half brick home.  A few years later, I discovered a dream property that came up for sale.  3.5 acres outside of Van Meter, IA with a quaint log cabin home, greenhouse and other out buildings perfect for a growing landscape company.  Taking that leap was one of the scariest and best things I have ever done.  I have dedicated my entire adult life to the growing industry and knew I was put on this earth to be a part of a bigger picture and the plant community.  This time of year I not only reflect on the time that has gone by, but also about all the wonderful things yet to come.

As a business owner and steward of the land, I am so excited about the opportunities in the future with the Plant Life Designs property.  Ultimately I want to create a space that inspires people to want to garden more at home and enjoy their outdoor living space.  The goal is to not only educate, but also to inspire.  In the years ahead, Plant Life Designs will be continuing to add more and more to our property, with the intention of bringing people into our space, enjoying conversation, food, and friendship.  Because that my friends, is what makes this world so wonderful to be a part of.


-Tara Dudley, Plant Life Designs

“live among your plants”

Plants That Shine in the Winter Time


These plants can be enjoyed in the garden all year round, are deer resistant and are very easy to grow.  With the number of allium varieties available, one could have an allium blooming from spring until frost.  We will celebrate the allium this year as a part of the Plantone club!

brown plants in white snowFerns

Adding lovely texture to the garden in the summer, ferns have an encore performance in winter as they showcase their dark brown fronds against the snowy landscape.

fern in white snow

Northern Sea Oats

With it’s distinct seed head, Northern Sea Oats offers an airy and natural feel to the landscape.  Rustling in the wind and catching the sunshine, you will want to make room for this ornamental grass.  With its ability to tolerate part shade, it also makes a great plant for a woodland border.  Northern Sea Oats in white snow

Simply For All Seasons!

This front yard in Ankeny was in need of an update!  Our clients came to us looking for something simple and clean, with interest throughout the seasons.  We selected a variety of plants that would add something interesting to every month in the garden.

all season plant design before
all season plant design after
front flower beds with curved borders
front of beige house with simple flower beds


‘Little Quick Fire’ Hydrangea.  This plant will reach 3-4′ high and wide and will bloom white and pink during the months of August and September.  We recommend keeping blooms on all winter as they provide wonderful winter winter interest.

‘Millenium’ Allium.  A perennial allium that will bloom purple blooms in late summer.  Lovely grassy foliage, and deer resistant.  Great for cut flowers and pollinators!

‘Purrsian Blue’ Catmint.  Beautiful lavender blooms throughout the summer.  This plant makes a great border plant and is very easy to grow!

‘Judd’ Viburnum.  A larger shrub reaching 6-8′ tall that makes a lovely accent plant on the corner of this house.  Sweet and spicy blooms in the spring time!

‘Green Velvet’ Boxwood.  An evergreen shrub that will reach about 3′ high and wide at maturity.  Needs little to no pruning and is also deer resistant.

‘Carousel’ Little Bluestem.  A well-behaved ornamental grass that will reach about 2′ tall with blue foliage in the summer and russet orange foliage in the fall.

‘Autumn Joy’ Sedum.  Beautiful pink blooms that carry through the fall season and bring in the bees!

Backyards for BBQ’s!

white house and backyard with green grass
Our client came to us wanting a patio with a circle patio off the side for a fire pit.

white house with green grass and inflatable pool

Patio excavation in back yard
The patio site was excavated about 10″ below existing sod. 6″ of crushed rock will be added to this space, along with 1″ of sand and then pavers!
Sand and pavers set for back yard patio
Sand has been installed and pavers are starting to arriving on site!
Finished patio with pavers and flagstone
The variety of stone helps define the areas of the backyard patio! The Pennsylvania blue flagstone creates the perfect space for a firepit and adirondack chairs!
Bluestone planter as a border to a back yard patio
This bluestone planter adds a nice border to the patio and will eventually provide some privacy with these boxwoods and tricolor beech tree planted on the corner.


A close up of a patio made from pavers and flagstone
The pavers were all intricately cut into the flagstone to make a seamless transition.
Design layout for backyard patio
With all of our design work, we also design furniture lay out to ensure we have designed a space to fit your outdoor living needs!