Natural Beauty: The Key Elements of Landscape Design

flowers and stonework

The joy—and the challenge— of landscape design lies in the individuality of the site. No piece of land is exactly identical to any other, even in the same neighborhood. Every landscape has its own relationship to the local ecosystem, with specific soil, drainage, sunlight, wind, wildlife, and other factors affecting the finished product. At Whispering Springs, we’re passionate about this type of landscape design, which is why we specialize in native woodland landscaping and deer-resistant landscaping in North Georgia.    

Of course, while every setting is unique, there are some elements of good landscape design that are universal. Be sure to consider these elements when planning any renovations to your lawn or garden… Or just give us a call at 770-893-1254 to learn how we can help!

The Challenges of Landscape Design

First and foremost, remember that landscape design has to work on multiple levels.

  • From a distance—approaching your home from the driveway, for instance, or looking at the view outside your window.
  • Moving through it—how you move from patio to garden, from garden to lawn, etc? Are the pathways made of gravel? Stone? Cement? Are they straight or winding? What does the landscaping look like from different vantage points throughout your property?
  • Up close—once you enter the landscape, what catches your eye? What details hold your attention? 

The best landscape design is interesting and attractive all year long thanks to careful plant selections and design choices. From luscious blossoms in the spring to sculptural stems and seed pods in the winter, landscape design requires an in-depth knowledge of horticulture as well as design. 

Key Elements of Excellent Landscape Design


The lines of your landscaping have an enormous impact on the overall effect. This can include the shapes of planting beds, walkways, water features—anything that draws your eye through the space of your yard. 

Straight lines, geometric forms, and symmetry all contribute to a more formal landscape. Alternatively, curving edges, winding paths, and organically-shaped planting beds create a casual effect. 


There is much more to using color in landscape design than just choosing a few bright flowers. Color affects the mood of your landscaping, helping to set the ambiance and direct the eye where you want it to go. A monochromatic palette of various shades of purple can create a calming atmosphere, while a highly contrasting color pairing like orange and yellow is more forceful and attention-grabbing. 

Remember that flowers are not the only colors you should be concerned with. After all, flowers bloom, die and fall off eventually. What does the foliage of your plantings look like in the lush, muggy summertime? Will the leaves stay green, or turn to gold, red, or orange? If you need some inspiration, check out these landscape color scheme ideas.


Again, think about texture in your landscape design from a distance—the contrasts between a short lawn, ruffled treetops, flowering shrubs, ornamental grasses—and up close—the bark of a tree, the leaves of a hedge, the slate of a stepping stone path. 

Focal Point

Of course, no landscape design is complete without at least one focal point. A focal point is an area that draws your eye and holds your attention. This could be an ornamental tree, a piece of art, a water feature, or a garden structure like a pergola. The focal point can also change depending on the season or time of day. Landscape lighting is a powerful way to direct the eye and highlight specific features of your garden. 

If you’re feeling inspired to give your landscaping a new look, we’re here to help! Contact us to learn more about our landscape design, installation, and hardscape services, or place an order from our nursery for curbside pickup.

16 Naturally Bug-Repellent Plants For Your North Georgia Garden

Lavender plants in a fieldNothing can ruin a beautiful evening on your porch or patio more than being swarmed by mosquitoes, gnats, or flies. These pesky insects can make it hard to enjoy your outdoor living spaces, but the solution may be easier than you think. No, you don’t need to drench your yard in pesticides or abandon outdoor relaxation altogether; you just need to add some naturally bug repellent plants to your North Georgia landscaping!

Bug Repellent Plants for North Georgia Gardens

Why bug repellent plants are so important for North Georgia landscaping

Mosquitoes are arguably the worst pest insect to invade your yard due to their itchy, irritating bites. While mosquito bites are usually more annoying than dangerous, they can transmit serious diseases like West Nile virus, Zika virus, dengue fever, yellow fever, and malaria. Flies can also transmit a host of diseases from run-of-the-mill salmonella and conjunctivitis to serious illnesses straight out of a Victorian novel like cholera and tuberculosis. Most gnats don’t carry diseases that put humans at risk, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating when your relaxing outdoor dinner is overrun by a cloud of the little pests. 

Plants to keep mosquitoes, gnats, and flies away

Fortunately, mosquitoes, flies, and gnats have one thing in common: They’re very sensitive to smells and hate the scents of many commonly grown herbs, flowers, and landscaping plants! Some of the best bug-repelling plants to add to your landscaping include: 

  • Herbs like basil, rosemary, thyme, mint, catnip, lavender, and lemon verbena. In addition to keeping bugs away, you can also enjoy adding fresh herbs to your cooking, baking, and cocktails for a fraction of the price of store-bought herbs. Even your cat will thank you if you plant some catnip, but don’t be surprised if you spot other neighborhood cats rolling around in it!
  • Flowers like geraniums, marigolds, chrysanthemums, bergamot, feverfew, floss flower, and pitcher plant. Make sure to choose fragrant varieties for maximum impact. Adding these plants will not only keep bugs away, but will also add lovely smells and vibrant colors to your landscaping. 
  • Grasses like lemongrass and citronella grass. Growing up to 6 feet tall and equally wide, citronella grass makes a striking addition to your landscaping, adding texture and height. If you’ve ever purchased citronella candles or torch oil to help keep bugs away from your porch, you’ll recognize the distinctive smell of the essential oil. Lemongrass doesn’t grow quite as large, but still makes a wonderful addition to your bug-repelling landscaping with a light, citrus-y smell. 

If you’re hoping to add some bug repellent plants to your North Georgia landscaping this summer, give us a call at 770-893-1254. At Whispering Springs, we are not only a plant nursery carrying a wide selection trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals, but also offer landscape design services specializing in native plants, woodland landscaping, and deer-resistant plants. 

How to Save Water While Gardening: Tips for North Georgia Gardeners

Watering can sprinkling plantsWe’ve already had some sweltering days this summer, and it’s not even the hottest month of the year! (That would be July, if you’re wondering.) It’s one of the most challenging times to keep your landscaping lush and healthy, but we’ve got some water saving tips that can help. Keep reading to learn how to save water while irrigating your North Georgia garden or lawn. We can even help you choose the best drought-resistant native plants to accentuate your woodland landscaping

Water Saving Tips for Summer in Georgia

The Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District has some great, detailed resources to help you water your landscaping more efficiently, but these are some of the most important tips to remember:

Know when to water.

  • Water early in the morning (before sunrise) or late at night (after sunset) to avoid wasting water through evaporation. Every drop counts, and watering during the cooler hours will not only save water, but also helps prevent lawns from falling victim to fungus or blight. 
  • When rain is expected, turn your irrigation or sprinkler system off! Automated sprinkler systems are the biggest culprits for wasting water. 
  • Only water when you need to—at the first signs of “moisture stress.” According to the NGWPD, the signs include wilting, dullness or discoloration. Another good way to tell if your lawn is thirsty is with the foot-print test. If you walk across your grass and the footprints are still visible after several minutes, your lawn needs water. If the grass springs back into position after a few minutes, you can wait a bit longer. 

Know how and how much to water.

  • The turfgrass varieties most commonly grown in North Georgia (Bahia, Bermuda, Bluegrass, Fescue, Zoysia) are fine with just one inch of water per week
  • One of the particularities of keeping a healthy lawn here in Georgia is that we have a lot of clay in our soil. That famous Georgia clay makes the soil less absorbent, which means that it doesn’t soak water up as quickly as other soils. In order to let the water from your irrigation system absorb and not just run off into the gutter or storm drain, you’ll need to make sure that you’re not delivering more than ½ inch of water per hour.
  • Not sure how quickly your sprinklers deliver a ½ inch of water? Place an empty tuna can or other similarly sized container in each section of your yard, and let your sprinklers run for 30 minutes. Measure the depth of the water with a ruler and use that to determine your watering rate, or how long you’d have to let your sprinklers run to water 1 inch. 
  • Adjust your automated system accordingly, or set timers on your phone to help you stay on track. You’ll not only be conserving water, you’ll also be saving on your water bill. 
  • For flowers and other plantings, water at soil level. This wastes less water through evaporation, gets more water to the roots quicker, and can even protect your plants from developing fungus on the leaves.

Happy watering, and remember to call our North Georgia plant nursery to learn which plants are right for your yard.

Everything’s Coming Up Roses: Learn How to Plant Roses With These Tips

Red and white rose with dew dropsThe rose holds a special place in our culture, evoking love, romance, and elegance. But roses aren’t just common motifs of art, music, and literature; they’re also show-stoppingly gorgeous additions to your garden! 

Roses come in a profusion of colors and sizes, from delicate miniature roses to fragrant magenta “knock out” roses, to stunning, richly-colored hybrid tea roses. If you’d like to plant a cutting garden to supply your home with fresh flowers, or just want to add a few pops of vibrant color to your landscaping, read on to learn how to plant roses and visit our Jasper garden center and nursery to find the best rose bushes for your garden. 

How to Plant Roses

Set the stage.

When selecting a place to plant roses, it’s important to take into account how much sun and shade the spot gets. For most roses, you’ll want to plant in a location that gets 6 or more hours of full sun per day and has well-draining soil. If you have a swampy, perpetually damp area of your yard, that’s not the place to plant your rosebush.  

Pick your roses.

Certain varieties of roses are hardier than others in various climates, so look for roses that are rated for your region. We’re happy to help you pick the best rose varieties for your yard, so contact us if you have any questions! 

When buying roses, look for strong canes (the main branches of the rose bush) and healthy buds. If the canes have started sprouting offshoots or the plant looks shriveled, choose another. 

Start planting!

  • If you’re planting a bare root rose, dig an 18” square hole and mix your compost of choice into the soil, forming a small mound. 
  • Place the rose on the mound of soil, and spread the roots out around it. 
  • Make sure the “bud union” (aka the knobby part between the stem and roots) is just barely above ground level. 
  • Fill the hole back up around the roots and lightly pat the soil into place. Give your rose bush a nice, deep watering.
  • Planting a potted rose is almost the same, but you’ll typically need to excavate a larger hole—about twice the width of the root ball and six to eight inches deeper than the container.  

Remember, we’re here to help with all of your gardening and landscaping needs, so give us a call! We’re always happy to answer questions and share expertise with our customers to help you achieve the landscaping of your dreams. 

We’ve Got the Dirt: Your Go-To Guide to Soil

Garden spade with soilSince we’re all spending so much time at home these days, many folks are taking the opportunity to work on their landscaping. The great thing about gardening is that it’s not only a relaxing way to pass the time, but also yields results that make your life even more enjoyable! Whether you’re eating homegrown tomatoes from a backyard vegetable garden, relaxing on your porch and enjoying the fragrance of a tea olive or gardenia plant, or even mixing up a mojito with mint grown in a kitchen container garden, there’s one thing they all have in common: They need the right soil to grow and thrive. 

Soil is one of the most important components of gardening, but many amateur gardeners don’t know much about it. If you’re thinking “Dirt is dirt, right?” get ready to have your mind blown. These are some of the most important things to know about soil

Soil Guide for Gardeners

In-Ground vs. Container Gardening

Being planted in a container is a very different environment for plants than being planted in the ground. If you’re growing plants on your porch, patio, window boxes, or indoors, opt for potting soil. Potting soil mixes are formulated to address the unique challenges of growing plants in containers, especially drainage and root binding. Using the correct soil will help keep your plants healthy and happy, with correct moisture levels and plenty of room to grow strong roots.

If you’re planting in the ground, you may be tempted to just dig a hole, toss your plant in, and fill it back up; however, that usually won’t give you the results you’re hoping for. Instead, you’ll need to amend the soil to create a welcoming environment for your plant, with proper pH, nutrients, and drainage

Types of Soil and When to Use Them

As we just discussed, potting soil is a must for any container garden… But there are so many types of soil at your local garden center, so what are all of the other ones for? 

  • Top soil is used to fill holes or level ground, and isn’t suitable for planting. 
  • Garden soil is used to amend (or mix in with) your existing soil, and you should use it when planting anything in the ground. Depending on the pH, clay content, and other factors of your soil, you may need a garden soil with a high or low pH to make the ground hospitable to whatever you’re planting. Garden soil contains a blend of nutrients, organic matter, and soil to give plants a head start. 
  • Raised bed soil is specifically designed for—you guessed it—raised planter beds, typically used for kitchen gardens to grow vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Here in north Georgia, much of the native soil is composed of red clay, which is not the friendliest environment for plants. Clay retains water and is super dense, which leads to plants drowning or suffocating if the soil is not amended. Raised beds are an easy solution to allow north Georgia gardeners to grow strong, healthy plants without the extensive labor and cost of amending the entire area of ground. Simply fill your raised beds with raised bed soil and your garden will be set for success with properly draining and aerating soil. 

We’re open for curbside pickup, so give us a call to place your order today!

How to Water Your Garden: Plant Watering Tips for Budding Gardeners

Watering can pouring water over purple flowers in a flower potWhether you’re growing herbs on your kitchen windowsill, flowers on your balcony, or a vegetable garden in your backyard, gardening is a wonderfully rewarding hobby. In fact, there’s even some evidence to support that gardening lowers stress. If you’re a beginner gardener, welcome to the family! You’ll quickly see how addicting it can be, especially with some tips to help you get the best results possible. 

One of the most important things to know if you’re learning to garden is how to water plants. Sure, you can just pour some water on certain plants and they’ll probably make it, but for the best results, you need to water strategically to avoid pitfalls like root rot or dehydration. Check out these plant watering tips from Whispering Springs Nursery to get your garden off to a good start. 

How to Water Plants

Get to the root of the problem.

When watering your plants, take care to water the base of the plant, not the leaves. Watering from above is not only a waste of water (depending on how the foliage of the plant is structured, the water could end up not even reaching the ground), but allowing water to sit on the leaves can also make your plants susceptible to fungus. 

Don’t be shallow.

Or rather, don’t water shallow! For most plants, it’s better to water less frequently but more deeply, allowing the water to reach the roots of the plant, than to splash a little water on them more frequently. Frequent, light waterings can cause your plant to grow weak, shallow roots in a search for the moisture that’s not making its way down into the soil. 

Give different plants what they need. 

Plants that are in the ground will typically need to be watered less frequently than plants in containers. Flower pots and planters retain heat, which disperses through the relatively small amount of soil they hold and dries them out much faster than the ground around plants in your flower beds. 

To check if your container garden needs water, all you need is your pointer finger. Stick it in the dirt up to your second knuckle. If it feels dry all the way through, your plants want a drink. If not, you can hold off on watering for another day or so. 

Cover your bases.

Nope, not those (baseball) bases. Covering the bases of plants with mulch can make a huge difference in water conservation, allowing the soil to absorb the water instead of evaporating into the air. Mulching your garden beds and containers will also help to protect the soil from baking in the hot Georgia sun, and can even discourage weeds from invading your flower beds.

Garden Not Gloom

Name that movie: “Exercise gives you endorphins and endorphins make you happy.”

We may not need Elle Woods to tell us that physical activity is good for us. Did you know gardening is also good for you? Well, beyond the physical benefits (planting flowerbeds is a pretty good workout!), gardening is amazing for your mental health. With all of this craziness, we know we need some good mental health practices so we figured we would share what we know.

plants labeled for happiness and good health

Top Mental Health Benefits of Gardening:

  1. Practicing acceptance. This does not mean giving up on something that’s not going your way, but rather learning to accept what you can and cannot control.
  2. Moving beyond perfectionism. No matter how much you try to plan to make the perfect garden, there will always be elements outside your control like deer or worms that eat your plants or bad weather to ruin the plants. Learn to accept these things and love your garden regardless.
  3. Developing a growth mindset. What is thinking with a growth mindset? Knowing that we are constantly growing and learning. When things do not go our way, a growth mindset will help you realize this was just another opportunity to learn and grow.
  4. Connecting with others. This is so important, especially now. We may not be able to meet and plant together at this time but there are several avenues to connect with fellow gardeners right now. Chat with our experts at Whispering Springs Nursery. Connect with us (and your local gardening community) on Facebook. Ask your inner circle if they’ve discovered a green thumb while sheltering in place. Gardening and chatting with others is a great way to feel connected while we are all stuck at home.
  5. Connecting to your world. This may sound weird but there is just something about planting, harvesting, and feeding yourself and your family with food you grew and cared for yourself that makes you feel like part of something bigger.
  6. Forest bathing. This comes from a Japanese term which paints a beautiful picture of yourself being completely immersed in nature. Benefits from just being out in nature include: less anxiety/depression, better stress management, faster recovery from surgery, and many other health benefits.
  7. Being present. Many find a centering effect while gardening. Mindful presence is tied to many health benefits including less relationship reactivity and more relationship satisfaction.
  8. Physical exercise. Regularly moving your body leads to less anxiety and better general mood.
  9. Reducing stress. If you’ve ever sat in a sunny garden and let your mind drift, you know it’s an instant mood-lifter.
  10. Healthy Eating. Growing your own food isn’t just satisfying when you’re digging up carrots. It’s also great for giving you important nutrients in a time when produce shelves at the grocery store are sparse.

If these are not enough reasons to get out and garden, here is one more: what else do we have to do right now? Whispering Springs is open and just waiting for you. We have knowledgeable employees that are willing to help with anything. We’re also offering curbside pickup due to popular request. Want to order ahead? Give us a call and we’ll have your order ready to go. Even if you just want to get out of the house for a drive, we would love to see a familiar face (even at a six foot distance).

Now is the time for us to rally together and support each other. We would love to help you create your favorite new backyard sanctuary.

How to Mulch Like a Pro: Mulching Tips and Tricks from Your Jasper Landscaping Pros

White coneflowers with brown mulch

Mulch is a great addition to any landscape, but only when used correctly. Without proper application, it can even do more harm than good! Fortunately you’re in the right place for any and all North Georgia landscaping questions. Here at Whispering Springs Nursery, we don’t just sell plants; we also offer landscape design, yard maintenance, hardscaping, and softscaping, with special expertise in deer-resistant plants and native woodland landscaping. If you’re interested in learning how to mulch like the pros, keep reading for our best mulching tips and tricks

How to Mulch Like a Landscaping Pro

Prep the area.

Before you bring any mulch onto the scene, make sure you’re starting with a properly prepared blank canvas, so to speak. Remove sticks, leaves, pinecones, weeds, etc. from the area where you’ll be applying the mulch. If you’re mulching around trees or shrubs, be sure to prune them first so you don’t have to clean debris out of the mulch later. 

Select a place for your delivery of mulch to be deposited, keeping in mind that you don’t want to damage grass or existing plantings. (Avoid choosing a location that is wet or muddy. Not only can this damage the mulch, but you can also get stuck attempting to drive a truck on unpaved land.)

Finally, you should prepare for mulch by edging along flower beds and paved areas like your driveway and sidewalk. Create a trench about 4 inches wide and 2 inches deep to create a crisp line between the grass and the bed. For paved areas, dig a slightly deeper trench so you have plenty of room to insert the mulch and have it be flush with the paved surface, rather than overflowing onto it. If you have a lot of area to prepare, consider renting a tiller or bed edger. 

Apply the mulch. 

Take it from experienced landscapers, these tips will make applying mulch much easier. 

  • Use a pitchfork to move mulch.
  • Load your mulch into a large wheelbarrow so you don’t have to make as many trips.
  • Place small piles of mulch around the area you’re working on to help you apply an even coat.
  • Spread the mulch out with a rake. You’ll need at least 2 inches of depth but no more than 4 inches in order to provide the maximum benefit. 
  • Never mound mulch up around the trunk of a tree or shrub. This can invite pests and make the tree vulnerable to diseases. 
  • Finish up by using a leaf blower to blow excess mulch back into the bed. 

Benefits of mulch

Congrats! Once you’re done installing mulch, you can rest assured that your landscaping is one step closer to perfection. The benefits of mulch include: 

  • Moisture retention
  • Erosion prevention
  • Soil remediation (as mulch breaks down it affects the soil ph)
  • Pest control (cedar or cypress can help keep fleas, gnats, and other insects away from your home.) 

5 Ways to Give Your Garden a Spring Refresh

Spring has arrived in all its glory here in North Georgia, and it’s truly one of the most beautiful times to enjoy your own backyard. If you’re looking for ways to give your garden a spring refresh, check out these gardening ideas from Whispering Springs Nursery in Jasper, Georgia. 

Spring Gardening Ideas for North Georgia

Plant perennials.

Perennials are plants that go dormant during the winter, but come back to life each year (as opposed to annuals, which die out during the winter and have to be re-planted the following year.) There are many beautiful perennials that can be successfully grown in Georgia, like begonias, hostas, bachelor’s buttons, chrysanthemums, delphiniums (aka larkspur), daylilies, irises, black eyed susans, and many others. Check out the University of Georgia Extension’s guide to flowering perennials to explore the possibilities, or visit our nursery to see what catches your eye. 

Build a haven for wildlife. 

One of the greatest joys of a beautiful garden is getting to watch the birds, bees, and other wildlife that visit. Consider planting a pollinator-friendly garden or adding bird-friendly features like feeders and baths. 

Grow your own food.

There’s never been a better time to grow your own food, and you might be surprised at how easy it can be to start your own little “farm.” These days, even a patio or balcony garden can produce a steady stream of veggies thanks to compact dwarf varieties of tomatoes, green beans, carrots, and more. 

Another great way to supplement your diet with homegrown foods is to plant an herb garden. Thyme, basil, mint, oregano, sage, and parsley are some of the easiest herbs to grow and pack a punch of flavor that will take your dishes to the next level. 

Create areas for relaxation.

It’s not enough to just look at your landscaping through the window; to get the full benefit of your outdoor spaces you need to go outside and enjoy them! Whether you build a luxurious outdoor dining room or just place a lawn chair under a shady tree, it’s worth it to create a space for relaxation so you can soak up the sights, sounds, and smells of nature. 

Plant a tree.

Someone once said, “The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” Planting trees not only adds beauty to your landscaping, but also leaves a legacy for others to enjoy long after you’re gone. Trees add color and visual interest to your landscaping, but they can also provide privacy, shade, wildlife habitat, and help clean the air! No matter how big or small your outdoor spaces may be, we’re here to help with softscaping and landscape design in Jasper.

Woodland Garden Inspiration for Your North Georgia Home

North Georgia woodland landscaping

Living in North Georgia, we’re lucky enough to enjoy the stunning natural beauty of the woods and mountains every day. When it comes to landscaping your North Georgia home, you can embrace that same beauty with woodland gardening. Read on to learn what woodland gardening is, as well as some woodland gardening ideas from the North Georgia landscaping experts here at Whispering Springs Nursery. 

What is woodland gardening? 

Woodland gardening is all about creating outdoor spaces that blend into the surrounding natural habitat. Rather than stark divisions between woods and lawns, geometric shapes and straight lines, and identical, carefully shaped plantings, woodland gardening offers a more organic, natural look. 

This approach to gardening is not only aesthetic, but also functional. When choosing plants for a woodland garden, opt for native shade plants that will thrive in the shadow of the surrounding trees. There are also many native plants that are resistant to those pesky deer, and a good woodland garden design will take that into account.

Ideas for woodland gardens

  • Embrace the seasons. Clever landscaping will ensure that your yard looks beautiful throughout the entire year, not just in springtime. Planting a mix of evergreens, flowering shrubs, bulbs, and other plants with year-round interest will give your garden a dynamic, yet always beautiful, look. 
  • Work with what you have. Rather than fighting the existing environment, go with the flow for a natural look that also requires less maintenance. Woodland landscaping often takes into account the falling of leaves, either allowing them to remain as they fall, or for a neater look, the ability to collect and shred the leaves before re-applying as mulch. 
  • Less is more. Part of the beauty of woodland gardening is its simplicity, accentuating what is already there, rather than fighting against it. Just a few thoughtfully-chosen plantings or a stone-lined dry creek bed can polish the look of your yard. 

At Whispering Springs Nursery in Jasper, Georgia, we specialize in landscaping to fit your home and the North Georgia environment, including woodland garden design, deer-resistant plant selection, and shade plant selection. Visit our nursery or contact us online to learn more about our residential landscaping services!