Loyola Magazine

Beyond four walls and a roof

Master landscape architect and '90 grad shares tips for beautifying outdoor spaces

When it comes to our homes, outdoor space is equally as important as indoor space. Just ask Peter Bieneman, ’90, general manager of Green Fields Nursery & Landscaping Company in Baltimore.

“I have a large wrap-around porch off my living room, which adds an extra seating during warm months. And getting outside can change your mood for the better.”

Bieneman believes gardening is very cathartic in that it involves both mind and body.

“It’s amazing how much digging in dirt can make you forget your worries,” he says. “Gardening—specifically vegetable gardening—reconnects you with the earth. The satisfaction of knowing you grew something and are eating it for dinner that night usually gets people hooked.”

From houseplants to flowerbeds, Loyola’s own plant pro lends his expertise for sprucing up any room, yard, or patio.

Outdoor spaces matter.

“Assigning structure to an outdoor space gives it a function and makes it useful,” Bieneman explains. “Instead of a sea of boring grass, why not plant a vegetable patch where you can harvest fresh tomatoes?”

You don’t have to have a green thumb.

Bieneman offers three tips for novice gardeners:

1. If you want easy—and productive—plant a vegetable garden.

2. For landscaping, use native plants like American Dogwood (cornus florida) and Inkberry Holly (ilex glabra). They already are adapted to our environment and great landscape plants.

3. For indoors, if you have a sunny window, try a dwarf lemon tree or some succulents. Neither are too demanding, and both will help even a new gardener feel accomplished.

No yard? No problem.

Gardeners with limited space are in luck, because the current trend in landscaping is space-saving plants.

Bieneman says look for dwarf or compact species of your favorite plants. “There are columnar apple trees available now that grow no wider than two feet; Dwarf Gumpo azalea can help also green up a small space.”

April showers bring May (and June and July) flowers.

Bieneman advises planting as early during the spring season as you can to allow for plants to get established before hot, dry summer weather arrives.

When in doubt, consult a pro.

“You can always get advice if from a professional if you are unsure what to grow.” He says most companies, including Green Fields, will offer a free landscape consultation. All you need are gardening gloves and a shovel.

Discover more tips from Bieneman, from potting houseplants to pruning roses.