What Is Outdoor Living Midwest Style?

Midwesterners may envy the Californians for their climate, which we hear is ideal for outdoor living, but this does not mean that we do not take to our backyards and make our outdoor living areas as cool and attractive as possible during our hot, dry summers. Here are a few pointers to help Midwesterners enjoy the outdoors even more.

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It is well-known that good planting may reduce summer temperature, possibly as much as 10° degrees Fahrenheit. By having as much of your garden or back yard of grass, rather than paving large areas in gravel, concrete, brick, or stone, not nearly as much of the sun’s heat will be absorbed by the ground.

Additional protection from heat absorption may be furnished by shrubs, evergreens, and small and large trees. By carefully locating large shrubs and vines, we can supply shade for every place where we will want to sit or eat; by using fair-sized plants at the outset, it is surprising how much shade may be obtained after a few seasons’ growths.

Since dew is often a regular occurrence, terraces, patios, or picnic sites must be paved. But if these paved areas are shaded, you won’t have to worry about any extra heat they might absorb.

Growing Trees In The Midwest

Some of the more giant shade trees that do well in the Midwest—and, at the same time, grow relatively fast (if the soil is at least slightly acid). Not relatively so fast-growing in most areas are sugar maple and red maple. Sweetgum and ginkgo.

Some of the smaller trees for shading are red-bud and purple-leaf plum—Washington thorn, Russian-olive, hornbeam, flowering dogwood, lovely bay magnolia, and Japanese cherry. In the more northern areas, mountain ash will be satisfactory.

It is rather lovely to have a little privacy when eating or to relax outdoors. This privacy may be obtained by putting in a hedge of ibota privet, carnelian cherry, amur maple, wayfaring tree, glossy buckthorn, or some other that you may prefer. Many people prefer a screen planting of mixed shrubs for summer flowers, autumn colors, or decorative fruits in summer, fall or winter if they have space.

Some of the shrubs that might be considered for this purpose are many of the viburnums, the tall deutzias, such as PRIDE OF ROCHESTER, fragrant honeysuckle, some of the tall growing cotoneasters, such as Cotoneaster divaricata, forsythia, flowering quince, and red-osier dogwood. All shrubs suggested for hedge use are equally good as individual shrubs.

Where space is minimal, a screen or background may be developed with a vine-covered fence using such evergreen vines as Euonymus Fortunei coloratus, hardy strains of English ivy, or the big-leaved winter-creeper, Euonymus Foriunci vegetus. Good deciduous vines are climbing roses, clematis, bittersweet, silver lace vine, or wisteria.

Vines During First Summer

The first summer, while waiting for the permanent vines to develop, plant some annual vines such as hyacinth bean, scarlet runner, cardinal climber, or some of the named varieties of morning-glory. Be careful of unnamed morning glories since they may self-sow and wild cucumbers with you forever.

You may wish to use some choice plants around your paved area – the sort not seen in every yard. Check your nursery to see which of the evergreen barberries will be hardy in your locality. The dwarf Japanese hollies and cotoneasters, such as apiculata and adpressa, are lovely plants. If you are in a section where the soil is acid, try Pieris japonica or some hardy azaleas, such as Icaempferi hybrids.

Ghent hybrids and others. Boxwood can take 10° to 20° below zero if your area is not too windy. One precaution: do not use plants that will spread too widely and encroach upon your living area. It takes roughly a 10′ by 12′ foot space for four people to sit around a table. Give yourself plenty of room to sit and eat as well.

Flowering Tobacco Is Perfect For Summer

Naturally, you will want to have some lovely flowers close at hand; fragrant flowers will be even more enjoyable. There is nothing more fragrant than the old-fashioned flowering tobacco for your summer evening picnics.

You can get the fragrance from a few shrubs like Daphne Burkwoodi Somerset and Viburnum Cortese in early spring. Regal lilies, the Olympic hybrids, and in midsummer, the gold-banded lily will perfume the entire area.

The butterfly bush will give you a certain amount of fragrance and immense enjoyment from the butterflies they attract. You will find white and pink, lavender, and purple varieties listed in the catalogs.

Don’t overlook annual flowers and the dependable hardy perennials such as day-lilies, bearded iris, phlox, bleeding-heart, Chinese delphinium, coreopsis, gaillardia, hardy sunflowers, pink turtlehead, and hardy asters for a touch of color in summer; if you are venturesome and like to start outdoor living with the first warm days of spring, then why not enjoy early spring bulbs to be planted this coming fall for next spring.

Try gray foliage beside your terrace or outdoor shelter since light colors are more relaxed in hot weather than dark colors. Low-growing ones include English lavender and Santolina, for gray-foliaged trees use buffalo-berry, the sea buckthorn, and the cherry elaeagnus and its sister, the Russian-olive. Yes, even the grayish leaves of the Rosemary willow make you feel slightly more relaxed.

Insect pests are no longer a menace to those using their yards for outdoor living. Unless you have encountered those tiny little pests called “chiggers,” you have no idea how their bite can itch the next day, Yet by dusting or spraying your entire yard with 5% chlordane, you can wipe them out for at least two seasons and possibly three.

Apply it as soon as the first chigger bothers any family member. Chlordane will temporarily banish flies and mosquitoes, and ants will disappear. Reapplications of the chlordane in your outdoor living area will do much to keep the flies and mosquitoes down through the season.

Using a weather-proof picnic table and either weather-proof or lightweight aluminum chairs – maybe a portable hammock—you can enjoy the Midwest summers, even though you wish you were several hundred miles north, somewhere at the seashore or in the- mountains.

With a modern charcoal grill for dad to play with and plenty of wieners to grill for the children, you will find it delightful to spend as much time as possible just living outdoors.

44659 by Victor H. Ries