Garden Photo of the Day

Peter’s Wisconsin Garden

The lawn shrinks and the gardens grow each year

garden beds around stone path leading to patio

We are looking at Peter Duffek’s garden today.

My Zone 5B garden is on a ¾-acre lot outside the city of Waukesha in southeastern Wisconsin. When my family moved here six years ago, the yard was lacking anything that resembled a garden. Only grass and some trees were present on the site. Over the past six years we have gradually planted a mix of native and ornamental plants along with numerous shrubs and trees. Each year, the gardens creep a little farther into the grass, and the plan is to one day have most of the yard covered in gardens. We feel it is very important to avoid the use of any chemical herbicides or pesticides in the yard, and the pollinators and predatory insects have clearly enjoyed it. We also added a small pond that was quickly occupied by frogs. As we have added shelter, water, and food sources to the property we have seen an increase in many types of insects, turtles, birds, and even bats in our bat house. This garden has been a wonderful way for our family to relax, connect, and learn all about the importance of our impact on nature along with our need for it.

pink, purple, and yellow flower gardenThis garden bed is overflowing with flowers much loved by pollinators, such as purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea Zones 3–8), and is ready to keep spreading out into the shrinking lawn.

close up of purple clematis flowerClematis ‘Jackmanii’ (Zones 4–8) has been around for over 150 years and is still one of the best! Beautiful purple flowers are produced in abundance on a vigorous plant.

purple coneflowers around a dark foliage plantA big cloud of purple coneflowers surround the dark foliage of a canna (Canna hybrid, Zones 7–10 or as a tender bulb).

garden beds around stone path leading to patioThe outdoor seating area is a beautiful spot to have dinner and enjoy the garden.

pink waterlily in a garden pondA hardy waterlily (Nymphaea hybrid, Zones 4–10) blooms in the water garden, which is a beautiful feature and provides a water source for insects and other wildlife.


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  1. User avater
    simplesue 08/22/2022

    Wow! Your garden is spectacular! Great design, great plant choices and I's best to avoid pesticides..there is balance in nature.
    You sure have created a great outdoor garden space in only 6 years!
    I love that patio and seating area!

  2. katherine_8 08/22/2022

    Hello from Ontario, Peter :)

    I love your garden and had to laugh at "The lawn shrinks and the gardens grow each year." I love all your pollinator plants, the range of flowers in colour, height, and arrangement. The water garden is such a nice additional feature and that waterlily is so pretty.

  3. cheryl_c 08/22/2022

    Beautiful gardens and sitting area. I am curious: how are you keeping the spaces between your pavers free of weeds without using herbicide? I'm asking "for a friend".

    1. pduffek 08/22/2022

      Luckily I have 3 kids that will pull weed for a small price, but I have also found success in a propane wand torch to burn the weeds.

      1. cheryl_c 08/23/2022

        Thanks for responding! My friend has tried the propane wand torch but said the weeds all grew back in about 2 weeks. Does it kill ungerminated seeds?

  4. Maggieat11 08/22/2022

    Great transition! I think we need more photos!🌱😉

  5. btucker9675 08/22/2022

    Beautiful!!! Shrinking lawn is also my goal - little bit at a time in the front year so we sneak up on the HOA!! The backyard is already pool/garden/raised bed, wooded area with a very small "lawn." Perfect! Love your water garden.

  6. sheila_schultz 08/22/2022

    Your seating area is downright dreamy, Peter! Planting our properties with natives is incredibly important, no matter our location. BTW, we used to live N of Chicago for decades and our family traveled to Wisconsin often. It's a beautiful part of the country! Now we live in the low desert of Tucson... I miss the lush of your area, but I have a sincere appreciation for our exact opposite when it comes to growing conditions! Natives rule.

  7. gardendevas 08/22/2022

    Agree w Sue!! Would like to see more.

  8. jos29803 08/22/2022

    Peter, you've a created a beautiful space!!

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