Gardening with Allen

How to Find Great Landscaping Plants

Planting a desert plant in a tropical region is obviously a bad idea but the same is true for most plants. A plant that’s meant to live in rocky soil won’t do well in waterlogged soil and vice versa.

How do you know whether a plant will survive and thrive in your landscape? It basically comes down to planting the right plant in the right place. Before you even put a trowel into the soil, you need to plan properly and find the right landscaping plants for your property.

Consider the climate

The USDA Hardiness Zone shows which plants will survive the winter in a particular region. Fill your landscape design with plants that are right for your zone.

Ideal growing conditions allow plants to establish quickly and produce healthy root systems. They grow steadily and can withstand attacks by diseases and insects because their immune systems are healthy.

A trip to your local garden center or local hardware shop can help you to find out which plants are best suited for your climatic conditions. In the Washington area, for example, peonies, gladioli and hydrangeas grow well in the hot, humid summers. These plants would make a good display at the Washington DMV.

Talking walks around your neighborhood is a good way to find inspiration. A gardener may even be happy to share some cuttings of suitable plants with you.

Find the right mix

When looking for suitable plants, you will want a selection of trees, shrubs, flowering plants etc. to create a good design. A mix of the right plants will make sure that your property looks good throughout the year.

Trees: Trees, more than any other plant, must be situated in the right spot. Putting a tree where it does not belong can cause major headaches down the line. A tree might overhang your house or continuously drop leaves in your pool. Make sure you know how high a tree will grow and what choose the right type for your purpose.

Shrubs: Shrubs need to be chosen according to how you intend to use them. Some shrubs, for example, are good for foundation planting. They stay compact and don’t need much maintenance.

Ground covers: Most homeowners want ground covers that bloom well and help to prevent soil erosion.

Perennials and annuals: If it’s color you want, look for flowering plants that are native to your region. For many, perennial flowers are one of the most important parts of low-maintenance landscaping. They come up year after year and add color to the garden. Annual flowers make good bedding plants and inject color on an as-needed basis.

Think about the light

Some plants need shade to thrive and others need full sun. Knowing what kind of light you get in your yard will give you the best results. Check the sun as it hits your yard throughout the day and make notes. When a plant tag says “full sun,” you will know whether you have the right conditions for it to flourish.

Consider soil type

Planting in the wrong soil offers mixed results and may even result in a plant dying. Before you buy plants, research the kinds of plants that grow in your type of soil, whether this is clay soil or dry, rocky soil. A red hot poker, for example, does best in well-drained soil.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to finding landscaping plants for your garden. Make a list of all your favorite varieties that will grow well in your garden and you can add them gradually over time. 

Allen Wilson

Allen has been writing about gardening for over 30 years. He is a retired professor of Horticulture.