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Article posted: 5/4/2013 4:00 AM

Low-maintenance trend grows in landscaping

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Not everyone has a green thumb. People can spend hours in the garden and still not be able to make their homes the showpieces they envision.

With this in mind, more homeowners are looking for plants and shrubs that are low- or no-maintenance, like hydrangeas and knockout roses, said Jean Bragdon, operations manager at Lurvey's Garden Center, 2550 E. Dempster St., Des Plaines.

"They want things that aren't finicky or, better yet, don't need you to do anything to them and they still look great," she said. "We try to steer people to plants that are easy and showy and will live through weather challenges so that the homeowner will look and be successful in their garden."

Using the right plants in a landscaping plan can also save you time.

"We know that it makes a homeowner feel good when their yard looks great and when it can look like that without taking a lot of their time, that just gives them more time with their family," Bragdon said.

Besides easy-to-grow plants, another popular trend when it comes to landscaping, she said, is the use of "living fences," like arborvitae, to screen homes and afford some privacy for yards. Of course, gardening remains popular with the growing of vegetables, fruits and herbs.

"Popular edibles to grow in the Chicago area include peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, lettuce and herbs. Some people are even trying to grow blueberries, but those are more difficult to tend," Bragdon said. "All of those can even be grown in containers on balconies.

"If you have space in the ground, you can also try carrots and potatoes in this part of the country. Forget about corn. You need several rows for corn to do its thing, so you need to plant quite a bit for it to work."

Container flower gardening on balconies, decks and patios is also quite "hot." Homeowners love the fact that the containers are movable and can even be grouped together for parties and other special occasions.

Ornamental grasses that mature quickly, are easy to control and give a home a native look during our long winters are also increasing in popularity, Bragdon said. Many like to leave these grasses long during the winter for landscape interest and then cut them back in the spring. Leaving them long also gives birds a place to shelter, she added, and protects the crown of the plant from heavy snow.

Finally, homeowners are increasingly being drawn to garden art and small water features. Accent pieces like gazing balls, metal flowers, bird baths and trellises are turning up in more and more local gardens as homeowners look for special items to complement their plantings.

"Small bubblers and other similar water features are also very hot right now. People like to hear the water and these are smaller and less work and money than putting in a pond," Bragdon said. "Installing them is even an easy do-it-yourself project."

The Lurvey family has been selling sod, landscaping supplies and other garden items from their 9-acre Des Plaines location since 1986 when the garden center and former truck farm was purchased from Ray and Marion Lindemann, who had operated it for about 50 years. The Lurveys continued to operate the business as Lindemann's Garden Center until 1994 when the name was changed.

Today the family owns a turf nursery in Whitewater, Wis., and landscape supply operations in Volo and Park City.

For more information about Lurvey's, visit www.lurveys.com or call (847) 824-7411.

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