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DIY wedding landscapes make backyards beautiful


Keri Collins Lewis/MSU Ag Communications



With some time and effort, savvy brides and grooms can save money by planning a backyard wedding or reception with a do-it-yourself landscape. 


Several Mississippi State University Extension Service landscape experts offered ideas for simple and cost-effective ways to create a unique wedding setting, no matter how many weeks or months away the special day may be. 


Pat Drackett, director of the Crosby Arboretum in Picayune, said planting in containers provides quick, easy and temporary decor for a backyard wedding. 


"Containers allow busy couples to dress things up fast, which is ideal for people who don't have much time to landscape a yard," Drackett said. "Containers allow brides to create a look that can be dismantled, and because they are temporary, they are ideal for outdoor weddings at venues that don't allow permanent changes to be made." 


Drackett said the containers themselves do not have to be expensive to look pretty for a wedding. 


"With a little creative thinking, brides can decorate simple plastic containers with fabric, bows, lights and ribbon," she said. "Fill large containers with packing peanuts or pine cones to take up space and make them lighter to move. The plants can be in other, smaller plastic containers inside the larger pot. The website is a great resource for decorating ideas, because they have hundreds of recipes for container combinations." 


Make additional planting decisions based on the time of year for the wedding and how much time plants have to grow. 


"I recommend incorporating stately hollies, small accent trees and layers or drifts of perennial color, depending on the season," Drackett said. "With some time to grow, home gardeners could incorporate some dependable Floribunda roses, such as the Iceberg variety." 


Iceberg is a white shrub rose. Drackett said such plants have a long season of bloom, so they can provide a wedding backdrop and remain a beautiful, low-care addition to the landscape. 


For the cost of the seeds, sweat equity and some patience, couples can save a lot of money by growing their own annual flowers, such as cosmos, zinnias and black-eyed Susans. 


"Brides who want to grow their own annual flowers for use in arrangements, decorations, bouquets or for beautifying the landscape should calculate the time needed to get those flowers from seed to bloom," said Lelia Kelly, Extension horticulture professor at the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Verona. "The wedding planner just needs to count back from the wedding date to the seeding date to have beautiful annuals for this special event at a fraction of the cost of buying flowers." 


Extension publication P2449, "Grow Your Business with Flower Garden 'Signs,'" includes a table showing weeks from seed to bloom for a variety of flowers. 


"If the bride plans to be married at home or at a relative's home, direct seeding these annuals into landscape beds or large containers at the proper time will ensure a colorful, beautiful landscape for the wedding," Kelly said. 


For couples with more time to plan, choosing a backyard setting for the ceremony or reception can turn a once-in-a-lifetime event into an opportunity for long-term landscape improvements. Parents may prefer investing in renovations they can enjoy for years over spending money on facility rentals. 


"A wedding can be a great time to invest in structures you've always dreamed of, such as gazebos, arched entryways, stone paths or more clearly defined, edged flower beds," Kelly said. "Or this may be the chance to install a fountain, plant larger trees or run electricity to parts of the yard that are darker than you'd like them to be. Investing in your own yard makes sense, especially if when you consider how much you'll enjoy it once the wedding is over." 


Rick Snyder, vegetable specialist with the MSU Extension Service and Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, said edible landscaping can add a fun and colorful twist to a wedding or reception. 


"I would suggest having vegetables and fruits in the garden so that people can graze and enjoy the fresh snacks," Snyder said. "Cherry and grape tomatoes, bell peppers, blueberries, strawberries, figs and more can be picked and eaten 'as is' and don't even need a knife to cut them up." 


Snyder said that some vegetables grow very well and look great interspersed among the flowers, such as Swiss chard, ornamental kale and ornamental peppers. 


"Creating an edible landscape or incorporating edible plants into the centerpieces is a unique approach to decor, especially if the bride and groom are foodies or love gardening," he said. 


Access publication P2449, Grow Your Business with Flower Garden 'Signs' at For more DIY wedding ideas, visit the MSU Extension Service Pinterest board at



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