Small garden winner: Focus on color gives yard pizzazz

Miguel De La Cuadra calls his Charles Village garden a work in progress, yet its profusion of color gives the impression of a long-completed work of art.

Just three years in the making, the rowhouse garden features raised beds overflowing with lilies, hosta, astilbe and roses. A Japanese maple drapes gracefully over a koi pond. Potted impatiens, petunias and geraniums brighten a privacy fence.

De La Cuadra, a human resources generalist, says he aspired to create a garden that blooms with color from spring to fall. Tulips, bleeding heart and peonies in the spring give way to lilies and roses in the summer. Arborvitae provide color and structure to the garden in the winter.

Growing up in New York City, De La Cuadra says he has been interested in gardening since he was a child and had created several gardens before he moved to Baltimore.

When he moved into the rowhouse in Charles Village three years ago, the backyard was covered in tired, worn grass that his three dogs made only worse.

He started by digging the koi pond. The second year, he put in a walkway and replaced a cement privacy wall with one made of brick. At chest high, the wall provides privacy, but not isolation, and functions as an attractive perch for potted annuals.

"I try to play with getting color year-round," he says. "I'm big into oranges and reds and pinks. Those are my three colors."

With nearly every inch of his backyard now turned into flower beds or walkways, De La Cuadra has no place left to go but up. He says his next project will be to start vertical gardening — growing plants on wires.

Favorite plants: "It depends on the plants and the season," De La Cuadra says. "Tulips are my favorite in the spring, lilies in the summer."

Lessons learned: Match the water needs of the plants that are planted together.

Runner up: Diane Brunetti, Charles Village

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