Plant selection starts with understanding your landscape’s unique requirements. A good horticulturist will examine your landscape, identify its functions and recommend plants that fit those needs.
For example, consider choosing shade-loving plants like ferns if you have a shady yard. Similarly, wind exposure will greatly impact evergreens and should be considered.
Look at Your Home’s Architecture
The landscape should complement the home’s architecture, enhancing its style and character. A landscape starkly contrasting with the home’s architectural style can be jarring and unsettling.
For example, if your house has a modern architectural style, we want to ensure that the landscaping complements it rather than clashes. The right plant choices could include trees with clean lines and a similar color scheme.
Shrubs for your landscape can be deciduous (dropping leaves every winter) or evergreen; they come in many colors beyond green. They can also have a variety of foliage textures, such as weeping, prostrate or topiary (pruned into interesting shapes). Repeating bloom and leaf colors throughout the landscape provides continuity and interest.
Look at Your Soil
In the landscape, texture refers to the overall appearance of leaves and twigs. Often, strong textural contrasts are desired for drama and interest.
Soil type influences a plant’s aeration, drainage and nutrient-holding capacity. Some plants thrive in sandy soils, while others prefer loam or clay. Soil acidity (pH) is also a factor: some shrubs, like azaleas and rhododendrons, grow best in mildly acidic soil, while others, like camellias and clematis, prefer alkaline soil.
Weather extremes, such as high winds, can also affect the health of woody ornamentals. For example, wind exposure can impact the form of evergreens, so choosing varieties with good hedging and screening capabilities is important. In addition, some species are prone to disease or insect damage, so choosing resistant cultivars is essential.
Look at Your Climate
One of the most important aspects of plant selection is “the right plant, in the right place.” This concept involves choosing species, varieties, cultivars, or provenances adapted to the environmental conditions of the landscape where they will be planted.
Choosing the right plants for your climate will help ensure your garden thrives. Exotic or out-of-regional plants may perform poorly in your gardening zone and can often be harder to maintain.
Aim for low maintenance by selecting plant growth year-round, such as perennial flowers and shrubs. Choose plantings with varying bloom times and foliage colors to create visual interest throughout the year. Incorporate evergreens to provide a backdrop of color and texture. Also, consider wind exposure, as this can significantly impact some plants.
Look at Your Time
A landscape designer or gardener knows the “right plant, right place” mantra. It’s central to whether or not plants thrive or limp along. Plants placed in locations that aren’t meeting their needs will quickly be unhappy and often struggle to survive.
Different plants require varying maintenance levels, so consider your available time and commitment level before choosing the plants to add to your landscape. For example, look for annuals and perennials with vibrant colors and foliage if you prefer colorful blooms.
If you have shady areas, choose plants that thrive in the shade, like ferns or hostas. If your yard is sunny, select plants that thrive in full sun exposure, like hydrangeas or rhododendrons. Mixing these different textures allows you to create visually appealing and diverse garden designs.
Look at Your Maintenance Requirements
When choosing the right plants for your landscape, it is important to consider how they will look when fully grown. The small size of the plants you see at garden centers and nurseries may not indicate their appearance when full-grown.
For example, if you are planting shrubs with large leaves, choose deciduous varieties that will turn bright colors in the fall or evergreen options that will be attractive in winter.
Also, if your property is prone to weather extremes like wind, choosing garden plant species that can handle those conditions is important. Plants that aren’t suited to your climate will often struggle or die and can be a headache for you to maintain. The right plants will help your landscape thrive and add beauty to your home.
Meg is an author at Cinnamon Hollow. She writes on a variety of topics sharing tips and ideas for daily life.