March 16 2012 12:17 AM

Is it the ailing economy, or the stress and cost of travel? Maybe it’s the nesting instinct, or perhaps it’s a combination of all three.

These days, more and more people aren’t heading to Honolulu or Paris or Istanbul for the big once-a-year getaway. Instead, they are doing what is known as the “staycation”— they are staying home, relaxing and kicking back in their own familiar surroundings.

In recent years, never has the phrase “home, sweet home” been hipper, or truer. And fueled by this wacky notion of staying home as if it were a vacation—necessity is the mother of invention—more and more people are calling landscape contractors and spending some of their disposable income on making their home into a much more interesting, entertaining, and more beautiful place to be.

Does the entryway lack invitation and pizzazz? Does the front yard seem blah and ho-hum? Is the backyard boring and forgettable? Well, one simple and quick way to transform the monochromatic backdrop of the green grass and green shrubs and evergreen trees surrounding the property is with the use of color.

 “People are drawn to color,” says Alrie Meadowbrook of Meadowbrook Gardens, San Jose, California.

She has designed more than 400 landscapes and co-authored the book Designing California Native Gardens. “A lot of people like a riot of color in the spring and summer.”

Installing beautiful flowers is the fastest and easiest way to add seasonal variety and color accent to a humdrum landscape. Perhaps you’ve already gotten the call to action? Since springtime will be upon us shortly, once again it’s the time of year to start planting annuals in order to have a riot of color come summertime.

“The color trend for this year— and all years—is ‘high visibility,’” says Jeff Gibson of Ball Horticulture Company, Chicago, Illinois. “Or, the ‘55-mile-an-hour color’ (color you can see from the highway). This is still the rule.”

Some of your clients may want to go traditional. In these instances, you have quite a few choices of different varieties. For starters, think about using snapdragons. These Mediterranean natives produce dozens of blooms on long flower stalks, in single and bi-color shades of pink, red, purple, yellow, orange and white.

Periwinkles are another variety to consider. They display white or pinkpurple flowers. Sweet alyssums show dense clusters of tiny snowwhite flowers that bloom continuously throughout the growing season, and ageratums have a deep blue that colors its fuzzy leaves. Asters come in annuals and perennials, and some have petals painted in pale pink, as well as shades of blue, lavender, crimson, rose and peach.

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