Choosing Plants for Your Landscaping: What You Must Know
Proper plant selection is the key secret to successful landscaping. Choosing the perfect landscaping plants for a garden depends on a number of factors, such as the regional climate,
the topography of the garden, and the soil type. Considering all these factors is important to ensure that the plants you select have the best chance for healthy growth and long-term survival.
Our landscaping experts have written this quick and simple guide to help you select the right plants that will require low maintenance and add more color and texture to your landscape.
1. Know Your Yard
In order to ensure that your plants thrive and offer you aesthetic value for a long time, it is important that you select the ones that complement your regional climate and the topography of your garden. The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map can provide you valuable information regarding the climate of your region. It divides the US into 26 zones depending on the average annual minimum temperature of the zone. You can use this map to determine which plants are most likely to thrive in your location.
In addition to regional climate, the microclimate of your landscape is another factor that can influence the survival and growth of plants. Depending on the amount of sunshine and shade area, your landscape can be categorized into any one of the four types of microclimate.
- Full sun
- Partial shade
- Deep shade
Once you have determined the regional and microclimate of your garden, the next thing you need to do is analyze the topography of the garden as it affects the drainage of water and in turn influences the health and growth of plants.
2. Consider the Function of Plants
Plants can work in a multitude of ways in a landscape. They can be used to provide cool shade or eliminate an undesirable view. So, when selecting plants for your landscape, it is imperative that you consider their functional use and make the right choice accordingly.
Plants can be divided into a number of categories based on their functional use. Here we have listed the four types that are most frequently used in residential landscaping.
Shade Trees — These plants are used to produce dense shades and are particularly suitable for neighborhoods with hot, humid summers. In addition to providing cool shade, these plants can also help low the cooling costs, and therefore, are considered an ideal choice for sustainable landscapes. Examples, oak and maple trees.
Specimens — As the name implies, specimen plants can work as a focal point in any landscape on their own. These are ornamental plants with unique colors, textures, branching, flowers, and fruits. Examples include flowering crabapple, Japanese tree lilac, and more.
Screens — These plants are used to block an undesirable view, noise, wind, or dust and debris. Most screen plants are evergreens and have low branches. Most landscapes make use of only specie of specimen plants, planted in a row. Examples include pines, firs, spruces, Eastern red-cedar, and more.
Hedges — These are one of the most well-known landscaping plants. These are planted close together in a single or double row to define different sections of a landscape. Depending on the design of a landscape, these can be ornamental plants or barrier plants that are used to deter foot traffic. Examples of barrier plants include barberries, hawthorns, and shrub roses. Examples of hedges include yews, boxwoods, lilacs, dogwoods, and more.
3. Consider the Plant-Related Factors
Since most trees and shrubs are planted when they are young, people tend to overlook how their growth will impact the design of their landscape. Therefore, when selecting plants for your landscape, you must consider the growth rate and the height, width, and overall shape of the plants when they are fully grown.
When planting trees and shrubs, make sure that you leave enough space so that they don’t obstruct sidewalks, roads, and pathways when they have reached their mature height and width. Here’s a quick guide to help you ensure that you space your plants the right way.
|Height of Plant||Spacing|
|5 feet||3 to 5 inches|
|10 feet||8 to 12 inches|
|25 feet||12 to 20 inches|
Also consider the growth rate of plants. Plants that grow quickly require frequent pruning, such as silver maples, willows, and Siberian elm. On the other hand, slow-growing plants, such as ginkgo and Koreanspice viburnum, can be planted near streets because of their low maintenance needs.
4. Consider the Soil-Related Factors
Needless to mention, the texture, pH, temperature, and mineral composition of your landscape soil greatly influences the survival and growth of plants. Therefore, it is advisable that you get a sample of the soil tested to determine what kinds of plants will best thrive in your garden.
Soil Texture —The texture of your soil refers to the presence of sand, silt, and clay. Soil texture influences the fertility, drainage, and aeration of the soil. Also, it’s very expensive to modify the texture of the soil. Therefore, instead of spending a considerable sum of money on improving the soil texture, you should focus on selecting plants that can adapt to it.
|Soil Texture||Best Plant Choices|
|Dry, Sandy Soils||Red pine, black oak, eastern red-cedar, creeping juniper, shagbark hickory, rugosa rose, yuccas|
|Clay and silt soils||Crab apple, mahonia, camellia, sorbus, rose, lilac, Japanese maple, foxglove, bluebells, peony|
Keeping these factors under consideration, you can create a lush green landscape that will not only add to the curb appeal of your home, but also provide you with a comfortable, welcoming space where you can spend your spare time enjoying the natural beauty of shrubs and flowerbeds around you. Soil Moisture — Most plants like well-drained, highly moist soils, but there are drought-tolerant choices available as well. Also, drought-tolerant plants require less water and are frequently used in smart, sustainable landscapes. Examples of such plants include but oak, gray dogwood, junipers, and cotoneasters.
Need help selecting the right plants for your garden? Let our experts help you. Call us today at 310 387 3548 or send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you as soon as possible.