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8 Types of Gardens for Your Michigan Yard

May 23rd, 2024 | 6 min read

By Christine Gauthier

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Are you a homeowner in Michigan looking to transform your yard but feeling overwhelmed by the various garden options available? You're unsure which type of greenery will thrive in Michigan's climate and suit your preferences.

Without clarity on the best landscaping choices, you risk investing time and resources into an area that may not flourish or fulfill your vision for your outdoor space.

With 15+ years of experience in landscaping and outdoor design, we've helped hundreds of homeowners build gardens that survive and thrive in Michigan's unique environment.

In this article, you’ll learn more about 8 garden types you can build for your Michigan yard:

  1. Cottage Garden
  2. Native Plant Garden
  3. Vegetable Garden
  4. Zen Garden
  5. Prairie Garden
  6. Herb Garden
  7. Butterfly Garden
  8. Rock Garden

1. Cottage Garden: Creating a Charming and Colorful Oasis

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Picture a charming garden filled with bright flowers, winding paths, and cozy spots to relax – that's the magic of a cottage garden. With its relaxed garden design and abundant blooms, this style brings character and warmth to any Michigan yard.

Plant a mix of perennial and annual flowers like roses, peonies, and daisies for a colorful and fragrant garden all year round. Add rustic elements like wooden benches, vintage planters, stone steps, and trellises to complete the look.

Here are more flowers you can plant for your cottage garden:

2. Native Plant Garden: Embracing Michigan's Natural Beauty

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PC: Michigan Gardener

Embrace Michigan's natural beauty by creating a native plant garden that celebrates the region's flora and fauna. Native plants thrive in your area's weather and soil, needing little care and being eco-friendly for your yard.

Add local wildflowers, grasses, and butterfly bushes to draw in pollinators and help local wildlife. Not only will you create a beautiful garden, but you'll also contribute to the conservation of native species in your area.

Here are more native plants you can include in your Michigan garden:

3. Vegetable Garden: From Seed to Plate

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Homegrown veggies taste amazing, and a veggie garden lets you enjoy them straight from your yard. In Michigan's shorter growing season, plant cold-loving crops such as tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, and carrots.

Raised beds or containers work well for veggies, offering good drainage and soil. Use trellises or stakes for climbing plants like cucumbers and beans to make the most of your space.

Here are more of our favorite vegetables to plant in a Michigan garden:

  • Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo)
  • Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
  • Onions (Allium cepa)
  • Kale (Brassica oleracea)

4. Zen Garden: Finding Serenity

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Create a peaceful retreat in your backyard with a Zen garden inspired by Japanese design. Keep it simple with gravel or sand, representing flowing water, and add rocks, moss, and bonsai trees for harmony. Add water features like a small fountain for tranquility and reflection.

Here is the foliage we recommend planting for your Zen garden:

5. Prairie Garden: The (Gorgeous) Great Plains

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Bring the beauty of the Great Plains to your Michigan yard with a prairie garden filled with native grasses and wildflowers. Prairies are diverse ecosystems teeming with life, and a prairie-style garden can help support biodiversity and conservation efforts in your area.

Choose a mix of native grasses like switchgrass and little bluestem and flowering plants such as purple coneflowers, goldenrods, and asters to create a dynamic and ever-changing landscape. Prairie garden spaces are not only beautiful to look at but also provide essential habitats for birds, butterflies, and other wildlife.

Here are a few more plants you can infuse into your prairie garden:

6. Herb Garden: Crafting Flavorful Flora

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Cultivate a culinary paradise with an herb garden featuring a variety of aromatic herbs that are perfect for enhancing your cooking. Select a sunny spot with well-drained soil and plant herbs such as basil, rosemary, thyme, and mint.

Use raised beds or containers to control the soil quality and moisture levels, and consider incorporating companion planting to deter pests and maximize space. With regular harvesting and pruning, your herb garden will provide a steady supply of fresh, flavorful herbs for all your culinary creations.

Explore more herbs to liven up your garden and palette:

  • Sage (Salvia officinalis)
  • Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
  • Mint (Mentha)
  • Lavender (Lavandula)
  • Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
  • Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
  • Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)

7. Butterfly Garden: Welcoming Fluttering Guests

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PC: Fine Gardening

Create a haven for butterflies and other pollinators with a butterfly garden filled with nectar-rich flowers and host plants. Choose a sunny location with shelter from the wind and plant various flowering perennials such as coneflowers, milkweed, bee balm, and butterfly bushes.

Incorporate plants with different bloom times to provide food for butterflies throughout the season and include larval host plants like milkweed for caterpillars to feed on. With careful planning and maintenance, your butterfly garden will attract a colorful array of butterflies, adding beauty and biodiversity to your yard.

Here are more plants to integrate into your butterfly garden:

8. Rock Garden: Adding Texture and Interest

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Embrace the natural beauty of rocks and water-loving plants with a rock garden that thrives in Michigan's climate. Select a well-drained area with plenty of sunlight and arrange rocks and boulders to create an appealing landscape feature.

Choose low-growing plants like sedums, yarrows, and creeping phlox that can withstand dry conditions and rocky soil. Incorporate gravel or mulch between the rocks to help keep moisture and suppress weeds. With minimal watering and maintenance, your rock garden will provide your outdoor space with year-round focal points and texture.

Here are a few rock garden ideas to kickstart your imagination:

  • Alpine Rock Garden: Create a miniature alpine landscape with small boulders, gravel, and alpine plants like sedum, saxifrage, and alpine aster.
  • Desert Rock Garden: Mimic the arid landscapes of deserts with cacti, succulents, and drought-tolerant plants like yucca, agave, and desert marigold.
  • Zen Rock Garden: Design a tranquil and minimalist rock garden inspired by Japanese Zen gardens, featuring carefully arranged rocks, gravel raked in patterns, and simple plantings like moss and ferns.
  • Moss Rock Garden: Cultivate a lush and verdant rock garden by incorporating various species of mosses, ferns, and shade-loving ground covers among the rocks.
  • Mediterranean Rock Garden: Capture the essence of the Mediterranean coast with sun-loving plants like lavender, rosemary, thyme, and sage nestled among weathered rocks and gravel.
  • Waterfall Rock Garden: Integrate rocks of varying sizes to create cascading water features, complemented by moisture-loving plants like ferns, hostas, and astilbes.
  • Japanese Rock Garden: Craft a serene and contemplative space inspired by traditional Japanese rock gardens (Karesansui), featuring carefully placed rocks symbolizing islands and waves amidst raked gravel.

10 Ways You Can Choose the Right Type of Garden for Your Michigan Yard

  1. Check Your Yard: Look at your yard's size and layout to see what space you have and any limits.
  2. Know the Climate: Learn about Michigan's weather and growing conditions to pick thriving plants.
  3. Decide on Use: Think about how you'll use the garden – for relaxing, entertaining, growing food, or attracting wildlife.
  4. Get Ideas: Find inspiration in books, magazines, online, and local gardens.
  5. Consider Your Style: Choose a style that matches your taste, like formal, informal, modern, or traditional.
  6. Think about Maintenance: Consider how much time you have for gardening tasks and pick a style that suits your schedule.
  7. Look into Native Plants: Look into plants native to Michigan. They need less water and care and support local wildlife.
  8. Ask for Advice: Get tips from local garden centers, nurseries, and landscape designers.
  9. Visit Gardens: Tour public gardens and neighborhoods to see different styles.
  10. Start Small: Begin with a small garden bed or container garden if you're new to gardening.

Next Steps to Remodeling Your Outdoor Living Space

As you consider transforming your Michigan yard with a new garden, remember the importance of choosing a garden type that aligns with your vision and thrives in Michigan's climate.

With the knowledge gained from this article, you now have the tools to select the perfect garden for your Michigan yard, whether you're dreaming of a colorful flower garden or a productive vegetable patch.

At Custom Built Design & Remodeling, we're passionate about helping homeowners create outdoor spaces that enhance their lives. With our expertise and dedication to quality, we're here to support you every step of the way as you bring your garden dreams to life.

Ready to start planning your garden transformation? Contact us today to schedule a consultation and explore how we can bring your vision to fruition with our professional landscaping services.

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Now that you know common garden types for your Michigan yard, let’s explore the qualities of a reliable landscaping company, how much composite decks cost, and the projects that can increase the resale value of your home:

Christine Gauthier