REBECCA BULL REED
When Not To Plant
As nuts as I am about plants, I have to admit that sometimes gracing a space with flora is not the best solution. Case in point: As part of a pool deck, an awkward, tight spot which is close to a downspout, stays wet and is constantly trampled by both two- and four-footed species. Even the most durable of plants would be destined for a very short, sad life here.
Solution: Don't plant. Opt for good-looking stones such as black Mexican pebbles, and call it a day. If the space needs a little softening, strategically place a pretty container billowing with loose foliage, such as this asparagus fern. Make sure the plant you choose is compatible with the light conditions of the area.
To lay the pebbles like a pro, excavate 3 to 4 inches of soil, and cover the area with a permeable landscape cloth. Do not use black plastic, as it will just make your drainage problem worse. Fill the area with stones. Now you can spend your time gardening where your efforts and dollars will really pay off.
"Editors' Best Tips" is from the April 2006 issue of Southern Living.