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City beautification lies within us all

A well-manicured yard shows that an excessive amount of flowers are not necessary to still have an appealing landscape that has great curb appeal. (John Zvirovski / Forum News Service)

Winter is such a great season to make plans for the future. Not only does one tend to have a little more time on his or her hands, but he or she may seem less likely to be rushed to do anything. As I plan for the upcoming seasons, my mind seems to race with the many opportunities that are available to us all to enrich and beautify the community. We see progress being made with each passing year.

To me, this progress seems slow, but as long as I see growth and expansion, I know the end result will be incredible. As a gardener, one learns to be patient for things to show their true beauty. City beautification is not just the responsibility of local governments, but it is also the involvement of all citizens on multiple levels.

In our community, we have seen the addition of some public gardens such as Horton Park and the garden at the base of stadium hill. We have noticed the slow transformation of the burnt out lot becoming the starting vision of a new arts park. We have also seen the gradual expansion of the awesome hanging baskets that line Main Street during the summer months, which not only add great color to our concrete jungle but also add a natural element that attracts birds such as hummingbirds in areas we didn’t think possible.

Of course, we all have the ability to become involved on some level with a little spare time. We don’t necessarily have to devote our time to a club or an organization to make a difference in our community and make it more attractive and inviting. Some of the simplest tasks can be in our own yard or at our neighbors. Some of us do not own a yard or garden as we rent or lease a spot that does not have that amenity, however this should not limit our ability to help someone else that may need some assistance.

I am a big promoter of spreading the wealth of garden and plant knowledge that abounds in our environment. Educating the public on various elements and techniques only assists us all in making a better place to live. The more information we spread among one another, the more confidence we develop in taking that initiative ourselves to assist others.

If you are not a person that has a desire for gardening, but would still like to have a neat and clean look in your own yard, complete a few simple tasks and you will notice a big difference. Removing volunteer trees from hedges and around foundation plantings will make your landscape more manicured. Some simple trimming of shrubs to make them more compact and shapely will help a great deal and the removal of lower tree branches that obscure your vision within the yard give a neat appearance and great curb appeal.

A consistent mowing schedule will keep your lawn looking lush throughout the season while encouraging it to become thicker while choking out most weeds. If you are unable to perform these tasks, many others out there in the neighborhood may just be willing to lend a hand.

Removing garbage or discarded refuse from the yard also cleans up the appearance. If you have old swing sets that are no longer being used or clothesline poles that are beginning to rust, take them out and give them away or refurbish them and make them useful again. Leaving empty containers lying around in the garden can look messy but a quick planting in them and the proper placement in the landscape can brighten any scene.

Reuse some of the items in your yard that no longer seem to have any value. If your birdbath has a leak that can’t be fixed, fill it with dirt and add succulents to it. It does not require a lot of care or extra work, but it sure makes the planter look nice. Old leaking watering cans can also be decorated and planted to give a little extra character to a spot in the garden. Some people have even placed small pumps in them and made water features out of them. The ideas are endless if you take the time now to do a little research before the season begins.

Regardless of what your own tasks may be, you do not have to be an expert gardener or landscape designer to have a beautiful yard. Simple cleaning techniques can beautify any yard without entailing back-breaking work. Some yards will be gorgeously filled with blooming flowers, while others will be immaculate with stunning swathes of green lawn, and others will just have a very clean and groomed look with well-maintained trees and shrubs that seem to accent the positive.

During the upcoming growing season, think of the simple things you can do in your yard to improve the overall appearance. If you are someone who really enjoys doing some yard work, come up with a great project that will amaze your neighbors or enhance the neighborhood where you live.

Attractive yards seem to have a contagious effect with the surrounding neighborhood and result in a great area to live. With this continued contagion, maybe this community’s appeal will improve on the visual level, which only accentuates the soothing emotions that become as a result. City beautification is everyone’s responsibility, and we can all do our part in whatever capacity we want to contribute. A community that works together can only become stronger in the long run. So let’s put our best foot forward this year and see what kind of a difference we all can make.