Did you spend endless hours playing in the woods as a child? You can do the same as an adult by raising a woodland garden. These tree-centered landscapes are most closely associated with the deciduous forests of the eastern United States, but may also be designed among the pines of the West. They consist of three layers. First and most prominent is the canopy, which consists of the tallest trees in the garden. Next is the understory: a mix of shorter bushes and trees that survive in the dappled shade of the canopy. The bottom of the garden is called the ground layer, home to sedges, ferns, mosses and other shade-loving plants.
With a woodland garden, the hardest work is getting it started. After that, there's no watering, fertilizing, or mowing necessary, though you might have to pick up a few branches after a windstorm. Woodland gardens provide wonderful habitats for all sorts of creatures, including butterflies, birds, and squirrels, and they can actually reduce your energy bills by shading your home in the summer. The one thing that woodland gardens require, however, is patience. If you start one from scratch, it can take 10 to 15 years to take shape.