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DIY Landscaper's Guide to Selecting The Right Plant

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DIY Landscaper’s Guide

To  

 Selecting The Right Plant

Written By

Alex Duncan

Copyright 2016 The Right Plant LLC.

Table of Contents

Introduction

There is a lot to consider when starting any Do It Yourself (DIY) landscaping project. In order to pick the right plant for your landscape, you need to consider soil type, site conditions, function, your personal preferences, and much, much, more.  Getting the right amount of help can often be very challenging.  Local garden center employees can only offer so much guidance, while hiring landscape contractors can quickly become expensive.  If you’re willing and able  to perform the hands-on work yourself, but just need a little bit of technical guidance in choosing the right plant for you project, then this guide will help walk you through the process.

[+ The Right Plant ]  LLC. was founded on one straightforward principle: to Make DIY Landscaping Simple.  From free guides and [ blog material ]  to our [ soil testing services ]  and [ custom planting guides +]  we can assist you from start to finish. Founded by budget-minded homeowners, at the Right Plant we’ve learned first hand that doing it yourself only saves money if you do it right. We hope that this guide will provide you with the tools you need to tackle your landscape project.

Getting Started: Know Your Region

One of the easiest and most important things you can do before starting any DIY landscape project is to research your region . Understanding what planting zone you live in (i.e. USDA hardiness zone), how much rain does your area receive on average, when is the first and last frost dates, and average temperature and humidity information can help narrow down your prospective planting list substantially. Take a look at the figure below or go to the [+ USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Website ]  to find out what planting zone you live in. Most plants that you can purchase will indicate which USDA hardiness zones they can tolerate/thrive in. Be careful when selecting plants that are on the edge of your specific zone, these can often be sensitive to frost/heat damage during extreme years. Search other local, state, and federal websites, such as the [ USDA Web Soil Survey +] , or a general internet search to get information on precipitation, temperature, frost, and humidity. This information is generally wrapped up into the USDA hardiness zone; however, it’s important to keep in mind if your particular location is above or below average compared to your hardiness zone. For example, if you live in zone 6A, but tend to have late spring frosts, you may not want to select an early spring flowering shrub that could potentially be damaged.  Once you have collected your regional data it’s now time to venture out into your landscape.    

     

Getting Started: Know Your Yard

Now that you understand some basic information about your region it’s time to get to know your yard. Prior to developing a design and putting plants in the ground it’s important to study the actual planting location. Information such as the amount of sunlight, wind, available water, slope, general location, size of the area, and if any planting restrictions are present is crucial before you can select the right plants for your project. At [+ The Right Plant +] , we send each customer a survey that asks these general questions as well as their specific design preferences. We break most of these questions down into simple categories to make the decision making process much easier. Below is a subset of the questions from our survey that will help you stay organized and get you one step closer to selecting the right plant for your project. So read through these questions and keep them in mind during the design and plant selection phase of your DIY landscape project.

Where is the planting area located on the property?

Please Check All Answers That Apply to Your Planting Area

  • {color:#424242;} In the front yard.
  • {color:#424242;} In the back yard.
  • {color:#424242;} In the side yard.
  • {color:#424242;} Against a structure (i.e. house, shed, other building).
  • {color:#424242;} Along the property boundary.
  • {color:#424242;} In the middle of the property away from structures.

Describe the general shape and size of the planting area.

Example: Skinny rectangle approximately 100 feet by 5 feet.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

How much sun does the planting area receive?

  • {color:#424242;} 6 or more hours of direct sunlight per day.
  • {color:#424242;} 3 to 6 hours of direct sunlight per day.
  • {color:#424242;} Less than 3 hours of direct sunlight per day.

How much wind is the planting area exposed to?

Areas next to open fields or along roads are generally not protected from strong winds.

  • {color:#424242;} The planting area is exposed to strong winds.
  • {color:#424242;} The planting area is protected from strong winds.
  • {color:#424242;} Not sure.

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Is the planting area wetter, drier, or about the same as the rest of your yard?

  • {color:#424242;} Wetter than average compared to the surrounding yard.
  • {color:#424242;} Drier than average compared to the surrounding yard.
  • {color:#424242;} About the same moisture as the rest of the yard.
  • {color:#424242;} Not sure.

Does the planting area have access to irrigation?

Irrigation is described as an automatic sprinkler system and/or garden hose access

  • {color:#424242;} Yes, the area is irrigated by an automatic sprinkler system.
  • {color:#424242;} Yes, the area has access to a garden hose.
  • {color:#424242;} No, the area has no access to irrigation.

Which statement(s) best describe the slope of the planting area?

Check all that apply. Slope can also be referred to as “angle.”

  • {color:#424242;} The area slopes away from a structure.
  • {color:#424242;} The area slopes towards a structure.
  • {color:#424242;} The area has no obvious slope in any direction.
  • {color:#424242;} The area has a slight slope or angle.
  • {color:#424242;} The area has a moderate slope.
  • {color:#424242;} The area has an extreme slope or is on a hillside.
  • {color:#424242;} Not sure.

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Which of these statements best describes your project?

  • {color:#424242;} I’m installing a new landscape in a currently unlandscaped area.
  • {color:#424242;} I’m adding plants to an existing landscape.
  • {color:#424242;} I’m tearing out existing plants and installing new plants in the same area.
  • {color:#424242;} Other:__________________________________________________________

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Are t heir a ny r estrictions t hat m ight l imit t he s ize, s hape, and t ype o f p lants y ou c an u se?  

Common restrictions include: windows, powerlines, shared        fences/property lines, underground utilities, pets, etc…  

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I would like plants that…

Please select up to three plant traits that are the most important to you

  • {color:#424242;} are native to my area.
  • {color:#424242;} bloom for a long period of time.
  • {color:#424242;} can be used as a hedge or privacy screen.
  • {color:#424242;} are green year-round (evergreen).
  • {color:#424242;} require little maintenance.
  • {color:#424242;} attract birds and/or butterflies.
  • {color:#424242;} are drought tolerant.
  • {color:#424242;} can prevent erosion and grow on steep slopes.
  • {color:#424242;} are edible and can be used in a permaculture design.
  • {color:#424242;} grow in wet areas and can be used in rain gardens.
  • {color:#424242;} Other:_____________________________________________

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Which types of plants interest you the most.

Check all that apply

  • {color:#424242;} Perennials (grow back each season).
  • {color:#424242;} Ground-covers and Vines (low growers and climbers).
  • {color:#424242;} Bunch Grasses (from 6 inches to 8 feet).
  • {color:#424242;} Shrubs (multiple stems and heights from 2-10 feet).
  • {color:#424242;} Ornamental Trees (15-20 feet in mature height).
  • {color:#424242;} Larger Shade Trees (Taller than 20-25 feet at maturity).
  • {color:#424242;} I have no specific plant types that interest me.
  • {color:#424242;} Other:

Do you have a favorite bloom (flower) color or season?

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________    

h1<{color:#424242;}.

Getting Started: Know Your Soil

The finial, and arguable the most important step, before you can start designing your DIY landscape project, is to test your soil! Compared to the overall cost of a landscaping project, soil testing is relatively inexpensive and can even save you money.  Amending soil is much easier to do before plants are installed and understanding your soil chemistry can prevent you from throwing money away on plants that won’t do well in your soil conditions.  Getting your soil tested is as easy as mixing a few trowel scoops together, filling a plastic bag, and sending your sample off to the lab. See our blog post on [+ how to collect a soil sample ] . Many local state agricultural extension services and colleges and universities will have affordable soil testing services offered to homeowners. So do a quick internet search or check out the [ soil testing services +]  offered by The Right Plant and get you project started off on the right soil.    

Overall, the texture, drainage, and nutrient content of your soil influences what kind of plants will do well in your yard.  Understanding your soil’s characteristics and how they affect your landscaping project allows you to optimally prepare your soil prior to planting, as well as choose the right plants.  Soil texture refers to the percentage of sand, silt, and clay that make up your soil.  Drainage describes how water moves through your soils.  Organic matter, pH, cation exchange capacity and the amount of specific elements (Ca, K, P, MG) are ways to measure what nutrients are present and whether or not plants can use them as food.  Check out the example soil results table shown below. Each parameter tested is listed in the far left column, the sample laboratory result  is listed in the center column, and the custom recommendations are described in the far column.  If you decide not to test your soil prior to planting, at least do a bit of research on the regional characteristics of your soil. The [+ USDA Web Soil Survey +]  can give you a detailed description of the soils that are likely in your yard based on historic survey information. However, it’s important to remember that many homes have had soils either brought in or removed  during construction and that any regional soil data should be interpreted careful. If you want to verify the texture of the soils in your planting area try using the ribbon test . Squeeze a moistened ball (not wet) of soil out between your thumb and fore-finger and try and form a long ribbon:

  • {color:#424242;} Sandy type soils won’t ribbon at all, they crumble.
  • {color:#424242;} Loam, silt, silty clay loam or clay loam soils will ribbon less than 1 inch.
  • {color:#424242;} Sandy clay loam, silty clay loam or clay loam soils ribbon between 1 to 2 inches.
  • {color:#424242;} Sandy clay, silty clay, or clay soils ribbon more than 2 inches.

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The Right Plant Sample Soil Testing Lab Results Table

– - – - X

|\1/1. h2={color:#424242;}. Parameter |\1/1. h2={color:#424242;}. Result |\1/1. h2={color:#424242;}. What Should I Do | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Soil Texture |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Loamy Sand |\1/1. p<>{color:#424242;}. Loamy sand is a great garden soil and will easily grow a wide variety of plants that prefer well drained soils. Continue to add compost and mulch to move your soil texture towards loam. Add 2-3 inches of a natural mulch annually and mix in up to 1 inch of compost prior to planting. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Organic Matter |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. 7.6% |\1/1. p<>{color:#424242;}. Your soils are likely rich in nutrients and should require minimal fertilization. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Phosphorus (P) |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. 83 ppm |\1/1. p<>{color:#424242;}. Well within the optimal range, no need to add any phosphorous to your soils. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Potassium (K) |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. 194 ppm |\1/1. p<>{color:#424242;}. Slightly above optimal range no need to add any potassium to your soils. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Magnesium (Mg) |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. 322 ppm |\1/1. p<>{color:#424242;}. Slightly above optimal range no need to add any magnesium to your soils. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Calcium (Ca) |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. 2,177 ppm |\1/1. p<>{color:#424242;}. Well above optimal range no need to add any calcium or lime to your soils. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Soil pH |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. 7.9 |\1/1. p<>{color:#424242;}. Your soils are slightly high (basic) and would benefit from applications of sulfur (5 lb per 100 square feet) in order to neutralize soil pH. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. 14.066 meq |\1/1. p<>{color:#424242;}. Your CEC is great for loamy sand soils and should fair well in holding on to and providing nutrients to your landscape plants.   | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Fertilizer Guide |\2/1. p<>{color:#424242;}. No fertilization is necessary as long as your plants have normal color and growth. If plants appear weak and/or begin to turn yellow, fertilize with a high nitrogen blend such as 20-0-0 (at 1 lb per 100 square feet) once a year until plants improve. |

Building Your Design and Planting List

Now that you understand the conditions of your region and specific planting area, it’s time to build a design or at least assemble your planting list. A custom landscape design is a very personal decision making process that requires more thought than just looking at your soil testing results and regional plant data. At The Right Plant we don’t make specific design recommendations for you. Instead, we try and give you all the tools and inspirational ideas so you can build the design that is right for you. In this section we will discuss some basic landscape design principles and the general process for selecting and developing your plant shopping list.        

Landscape Design Inspiration

There are a plethora of landscape design and inspirational ideas available for your project. We included a few of the more common and basic ideas to help get you going. The landscape design principles that are most widely utilized are: unity, scale, balance, simplicity, variety, and emphasis. These elements can be combined with line, form, texture, and color to help build the perfect landscape design. Use the principles and pictures below as inspiration during the design and plant selection phase of your landscape project. Once you develop your custom planting list, pick the appropriate plants from each category that fits in with your design. Feel free to mix and match both plants and design ideas.

Unity and Repetition

It’s appealing to the human eye to repeat similar elements in your landscape and to be consistent with spacing, line, texture, and color palette. The main goal should be to give the sense that all of your different landscape elements fit together to create a cohesive, complete design.  

Scale and Proportion

Be careful not to select plants or other landscape features that are either too large or too small for their surroundings. Planting larger trees and shrubs close to your house can make it seem smaller. Be careful not to place larger plants in front of smaller ones.

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Balance and Symmetry

Create a sense of equality between your planting areas by minimizing unrelated objects and mirroring your plantings.

* *

Simplicity and Variety

Simplicity is a good principle for the new DIY landscape designer to utilize. Keep your planting design basic and focus on foundational plants, such as trees and shrubs, that you can build off of later. Repeat like plants and features in groups that allow for you to add some variety later.

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Emphasis

Choosing a dominant plant or feature in the garden will draw the eye in and create a focal point from which to build the rest of your landscape. Emphasis can be achieved by utilizing shapes, unique groupings, varying sizes, or any feature that creates a focal point.

Picking The Right Plant

Now that you understand some of the basic principles of landscape design you’re ready to start choosing the right plant for your project. There are several great online resources available that can be used to select that perfect plant. Websites such as the [+ National Gardening Association’s Plant Finder ] , the [ Missouri Botanical Society Plant Finder ] , and [ Betrock’s Plant Search ] , just to name a few. Check out any state and local extension services available to you and go visit your local garden center for additional help with selecting plants. The Right Plant also offers several [ custom packages +]  that can help you in the plant selection process. We can recommend a custom planting list that takes into account all of the regional and soil data that we discussed above as well as considerations of the functional and aesthetic preferences outlined in your survey. See the sample Plants Picks List below from one of our customers living in region 9A who wanted low maintenance, drought tolerant perennial plants that attract birds and butterflies. As you can see from the list it’s important to get both the common and scientific names of your desired plant as well as its height and spread. Most plants have at least 3 or more common names so having the scientific, or latin, name of that individual species will help guarantee you purchase the plant you want. Knowing the height and spread of your plant once it reaches maturity will help you with selecting plants that aren’t too large or small for your space. Later on we will discuss how you can use the spread of your plant in order to select the right number of individual plants needed to adequately fill your planting area. As you peruse various websites and garden center catalogs in search of the right plant keep in mind all of the information you have gathered and try to prioritize your functional and aesthetic preferences. Like with all things in life, no one specific plant will have everything from your wishlist. We recommend picking around 3-4 traits   that most interest you  and using those to help filter your search criteria. We also suggest you first start with the largest and/or any emphasized/focal point plant species and work your way down to the smaller, filler plants. Start with the foundational ornamental trees and shrubs before selecting the smaller perennials, grasses and groundcovers that generally fill in the gaps. You may find that that tree you fall in love with is much bigger or smaller than originally thought. Although we generally don’t recommend annual plants as part of our selection process, it’s always a good idea to keep annual flowers in the back of your mind as a way to fill space and add a pop of color to your landscape. Overall, gather a list of between 15-30 plants that will work with your design aesthetic before you begin the shopping process.

h2<{color:#424242;}.

Sample Plant Picks List Prepared By The Right Plant

– - – - X

Low Maintenance, Drought Tolerant Perennial Plants that Attract Birds/Butterflies

\1/1.
h2={color:#424242;}. Plant Common Name
\1/1.
h2={color:#424242;}. Scientific Name
\1/1.
h2={color:#424242;}. Height (Feet)
\1/1.
h2={color:#424242;}. Spread (Feet)
\1/1.
h2={color:#424242;}. Bloom Time (Season)
\1/1.
h2={color:#424242;}. Flower Color
\1/1.
h2={color:#424242;}. Key Features
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Coreopsis
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Coreopsis verticillata
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. 1.5-2
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. 1.5-2
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Late Summer
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Yellow
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Extended Bloom in Region 9A
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. False Indigo
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Baptisia australis
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. 3-4
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. 3-4
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Summer
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Blue
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. U.S. Native, Great for Cut Flowers
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Common Yucca
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Yucca filamentosa
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. 2-3
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. 3-6
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Spring
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. White
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. U.S. Native, Showy Blooms
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Perennial Sage
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Salvia verticillata
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. 1.5-2
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. 0.5-1
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Summer
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Purple
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Fragrant, Extended Bloom in Region 9A
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Coneflower
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Echinacea purpurea
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. 2-3
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. 1-3
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Summer
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Pink
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Great for cut flowers
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Brown Eyed Susan
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Rudbeckia triloba
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. 2-3
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. 1-3
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Late Summer
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Yellow
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. U.S. Native
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Wild Columbine
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Aquilegia canadensis
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. 1-2
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. 1-2
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Spring
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Red
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Great For Cut Flowers
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Common Yarrow
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Achillea millefolium
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. 1.5-2
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. 0.5
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Summer
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Miltiple
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Suitable for dried flowers
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. False Sunflower (summer sun)
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Heliopsis helianthoides
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. 2-3
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. 2-3
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Summer
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Yellow
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Extended Bloom in Region 9A
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Blazing Star
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Liatris spicata
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. 2-3
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. 1-2
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. Late Summer
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. White
\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. U.S. Native, Great for Cut Flowers

h1<{color:#424242;}.

Putting It All Together

Now that you understand your design aesthetic and have assembled your planting list, it’s time to gather materials and get to work. In general, these are the remaining steps of your landscaping project:

  1. {color:#424242;} Determine what you need by using our [+ Project Shopping Guide +] .
  2. {color:#424242;} Gather the plants and material, as well as any tools  you may need to spread, dig, tear out old plants, etc. See our blog post on [+ DIY tool selection +] .
  3. {color:#424242;} Prepare Your Planting Site .
  • {color:#424242;} Remove weeds and any unwanted plants you’re not keeping. Larger trees and shrubs may need to to be cut down to the ground with a saw and then mechanically stump gr ound.
  • {color:#424242;} Optional: If your soil is very compacted (i.e. difficult to dig in), you may want to borrow or rent a rototiller to loosen things up.  Rototillers are often available for rent from your local home improvement stores.
  • {color:#424242;} Apply amendments to soil per the recommendations from your soil testing results, if applicable.
  1. {color:#424242;} Install Plants
  • {color:#424242;} Place the plants where you intend to install them while they are still in their containers.  Check spacing and make sure you like the layout before you start digging! Designs always need minor tweaking after you lay them out.
  • {color:#424242;} Use our [+ How To Plant Guide +]  to install plants.  
  1. {color:#424242;} Install Mulch
  • {color:#424242;} Put a 2-3” layer of mulch in the newly planted area.  Mulch should not touch plant stems, so keep it a few inches away from the base of your new plants.
  1. {color:#424242;} Water Regularly . See our blog for [+ water saving tips +] .        
  2. {color:#424242;} Enjoy!  

h2<{color:#424242;}.

h2<{color:#424242;}.

Project Shopping Guide

Selecting the right quantity of plants  for the job doesn’t have to be complicated. Follow these steps to fill up your planting area:

  1. {color:#424242;} Pick your  favorite plant (start with the larger ones first).
  2. {color:#424242;} Find the max width of that plant from your Planting List and divide by 2.
  3. {color:#424242;} Choose the amount of space you want your plant to occupy (i.e. 25% of a 200 ft2 landscape bed equals 50 square feet).
  4. {color:#424242;} Find the number of plants needed from the [+ Plant Spacing Table +] .

Repeat the process until you fill your entire planting area. Use the table below to list your plants.

|\4/1. h2<{color:#424242;}. Plant Quantity List | |~\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Plant Name |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Max Width Divided by 2 (feet) |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Desired Square Feet Occupied by Plant |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Number of Plants Needed | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Example Plant |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. 6 ÷ 2 = 3 |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. 50 |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. 5 | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. |\1/1. p<>{color:#424242;}. [++] |\1/1. p<>{color:#424242;}. [++] | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. |\1/1. p<>{color:#424242;}. [++] |\1/1. p<>{color:#424242;}. [++] | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. |\1/1. p<>{color:#424242;}. [++] |\1/1. p<>{color:#424242;}. [++] | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. |\1/1. p<>{color:#424242;}. [++] |\1/1. p<>{color:#424242;}. [++] | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. |\1/1. p<>{color:#424242;}. [++] |\1/1. p<>{color:#424242;}. [++] | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. |\1/1. p<>{color:#424242;}. [++] |\1/1. p<>{color:#424242;}. [++] | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. |\1/1. p<>{color:#424242;}. [++] |\1/1. p<>{color:#424242;}. [++] | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. |\1/1. p<>{color:#424242;}. [++] |\1/1. p<>{color:#424242;}. [++] | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. |\1/1. p<>{color:#424242;}. [++] |\1/1. p<>{color:#424242;}. [++] | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. |\1/1. p<>{color:#424242;}. [++] |\1/1. p<>{color:#424242;}. [++] | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}.
\1/1.
p<>{color:#424242;}. [++]
\1/1.
p<>{color:#424242;}. [++]
|^\8/1. h2<{color:#424242;}. Plant Spacing Table | |^\1/1. p={color:#424242;}.
~\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. 0.5’
~\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. 1’
~\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. 1.5’
~\1/1.
p={color:#424242;}. 2’
~\1/1.
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|\3/1. h2<{color:#424242;}. Mulch and Compost Calculator | |\3/1. p<>{color:#424242;}.

Amount of Product(ft 3 ) *  = Area (ft 2 ) X Depth (ft)

*Divide by 27 to convert to cubic yards

For 3” of mulch depth use 0.25 ft and for 1” of compost use 0.1  ft |

Mulch and Compost are generally sold in bags (either 1.0, 1.5, and 2.0 cubic feet) or by the cubic yard. We recommend incorporating up to 1 inch of compost into the soil before planting, if needed, and applying 3 inches of natural mulch following planting.

h2<{color:#424242;}.

What Types of Plants Are Available

Landscape plants are generally available in three types of packaging:  container, bare root, and ball and burlap:  

The bare root  method is often used for mail order nurseries.  Plants are wrapped up and shipped to you with no pot or soil.  They are generally less expensive than container plants, but are also smaller (think stick vs. tree with branches) and should be planted ASAP.

Container plants  are most common and include any plant grown and sold in a pot (usually plastic).  Container plants are classified by size, with common pot sizes of #1, #3, #5 (roughly equal to gallons).  

The “Ball and Burlap”  method is used for trees and large shrubs.  These plants are grown in a field, then dug up and the root ball wrapped in burlap.  This method allows you to get much larger plants than are available in containers, but they are also expensive and harder to transport/install.  Ball and burlap trees are classified by diameter of the trunk, with common sizes of 1.5-2”.  Multi-stem trees, such as river birch, may be classified by height (i.e. 7-8’).

How to Pick Your Plant

When selecting the perfect plant specimen be careful not to purchase a plant on size alone. In the case of nursery plant stock, bigger and/or taller, is not always better. Sure, if all else is equal, a plant that is larger will tend to reach maturity quicker than its smaller counterpart. However, plants are seldom equal, and knowing how to select a winner is part talent and part luck. The below ground growth (roots) is generally more important than the the above ground growth (stems, branches, and leaves). Although it can be challenging to check, try and purchase a plant that has a full healthy root system. Don’t trust container size alone, just because the plant is currently occupying a 5 gallon container does not mean that it has grown into a 5 gallon sized plant. Poke around the soil of the container a bit to see if the roots have filled up the container. Take a look at the size, or thickness, of the stem and choose a plant that has the thickest most robust stem you can find. Also, don’t be fooled by those beautiful flowers. Although you are likely in large part purchasing that new perennial for your landscape because it has beautiful seasonal blooms, make sure you follow all the criteria mentioned above and don’t select a plant simply because it possesses the most flowers. Additionally, don’t hesitate to purchase a plant that has already bloomed for the season, often times you can get a discount for buying plants late in the season or ones that have spent flowers. Finally, make sure you check your potential plant for overall health looking for signs of damage or disease.

Overall, we recommend focusing on these buying tips:

  1. {color:#424242;} Choose a plant with a well developed root system  that fills its container. Don’t be afraid to give it a shake!
  2. {color:#424242;} Select a plant with a thicker stem  rather than more height.
  3. {color:#424242;} Avoid plants with signs of poor health  such as damaged limbs, insect infestations, and discolored/wilted leaves.

Check out our [+ Plant Selection Blog Post +]  for more detailed info.

Wh ere To Shop For Plants

Your ability to find the plants chosen for your project depends on the time of year, the type of plant you’re shopping for, and where you are located.  Between box stores, independent garden centers, local plant sales, and mail-order nurseries, there are lots of plant-buying options.

Box and home improvement stores  (e.g. Lowe’s, Home Depot, Walmart) generally carry a limited selection of common plant varieties during the growing season.  These can be a good places to find foundation shrubs, common perennials, bagged mulch, and soil amendments.  Take extra care to find healthy-looking specimens, however, as these retailers don’t specialize in nursery stock and their care practices can be lacking.  Check out [+ How to Pick a Healthy Plant +]  for tips on choosing a winner. Independent garden centers  (IGCs) generally have a wide selection of plants suited to your area, as well as knowledgeable staff members.  They may even be able to order specific varieties for you.  You can find garden centers in you area through a simple internet search or by using this [+ garden center locator +] .  Your local IGC may also carry soil amendments and bulk or bagged compost and mulch.  IGCs are the best place to find large stock, such as ball and burlapped trees and shrubs.  

Finally, there’s a plethora of online and mail-order suppliers  that will ship seeds, starts,  bare-root stock (plants without soil), and other small plants directly to your front door. These retailers are especially great for finding rare and “out of season” plant stock.

We recommend seeking out an IGC first and ordering online only after you have exhausted your local resources.  Remember, it’s always best to purchase a plant that was sprouted and cared for directly in your local area.

h2<{color:#424242;}.

How to Plant

The survival and success of your new landscape plants can be greatly improved with proper planting techniques . Be sure to plant at the appropriate depth, remove any containers or burlap, and water.

  • {color:#424242;} Before you dig, place your plants into their desired location  while still in their containers. Read the plant label or info from your planting list to determine how far to space them apart. Trust your gut and adjust as needed.  
  • {color:#424242;} The width of your planting hole should be dug 2-3 times wider  than and the exact depth of the root ball (it’s good if the root ball sits on solid ground). This allows the roots to spread quickly.
  • {color:#424242;} Remove any containers, burlap, or wire from your plant.
  • {color:#424242;} Gently loosen any of the plant roots that may be tangled or wrapped around the root ball.
  • {color:#424242;} Place your plant in the hole so the top of the root ball is roughly level with the soil surface . Planting too deeply can cause your plant to suffocate and die!
  • {color:#424242;} Fill the hole back in with the previously dug soil.
  • {color:#424242;} Water  the root ball  immediately after planting is complete.

Maintenance: After You Plant

  • {color:#424242;} Keeping the soil surrounding your new plants covered with 2-3 inches of mulch  will help control temperature and water loss. Avoid mulching up and over the trunk or shoots of the plant.  
  • {color:#424242;} Water  your plants when needed.  Let the soil be your guide by waiting for the top few inches to dry out before soaking the area again. It’s better to water deeply, less frequently with more volume, than more frequently, more often with less volume.  Check out out [+ water saving tips here +] .
  • {color:#424242;} Fertilizing  your plants should be based off your soil testing results and plant types. Heavy feeders such as those with rapid growth and multiple blooms will require more fertilizer than their slow growing, low blooming counterparts. See the [+ fertilizer guide +]  on our blog.  
  • {color:#424242;} Pruning and trimming  your plants is necessary to maintain overall health and plant form. See the available [+ pruning guides +]  from our website for additional information.
  • {color:#424242;} Weeding  around your landscape plants will reduce competition and allow proper light and air flow to reach your plant.

Seasonal Pruning Tips

|\1/1. h2<{color:#424242;}. Season |\1/1. h2={color:#424242;}. What To Prune | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Late Winter |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Prune deciduous trees (except spring flowering varieties such as cherries, maples, forsythia, and lindens). | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Spring |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Prune all spring flowering shrubs after they finish blooming (e.g. lilac, azalea, spirea, dogwood, roses). | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Summer |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Deadhead  flowering perennials to extend bloom. Prune damaged, dead, diseased, or deformed branches anytime. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Fall |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Prune all summer/ fall blooming shrubs (e.g. butterfly bush, viburnum). Cut back spent perennials. |

Glossary  

|\1/1. h2<{color:#424242;}. Term |\1/1. h2<{color:#424242;}. Definition | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Annual |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. A plant which grows, blooms, sets seed, and dies during one life cycle in one year or less. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Aquatic |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. A plant which carries out its life cycle in water. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Berry |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. A fleshy or pulpy fruit, typically with seeds inside. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Bloom |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. Generally refers to the flowering portion of the plant. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Calcium |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. Is important for overall plant health and aids in nutrient uptake. Sandy soils generally contain less calcium than clay soils. Optimal range for sandy soils is around 500 ppm, and 1,000 ppm for clay soils. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. Is an indicator of the soils ability to hold nutrients. It is a relatively permanent characteristic of the soil and can not be easily changed. Typically, the greater the organic matter and clay contents, the higher the CEC of a soil. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Clay |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. Is the smallest/finest soil particle and tend to be heavier, more compact, and have slow water drainage. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Deadheading |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. Is the process of pinching/cutting a spent bloom/flower just above the first full set of healthy leaves to encourage additional blooming and a clean appearance. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Deciduous |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. Pertaining to plants which shed their leaves after one year’s growth, typically during the fall season. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Evergreen |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. Refers to having green leaves throughout the year. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Fruit |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. That plant structure which generally bears the seeds. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Genus |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. A group of related [+ species +] , as the genus Ulmus  (elm), the genus Syringa  (lilac), embracing respectively all kinds of elms and all kinds of lilacs. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Hardy |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. Refers to a plant’s ability to withstand adverse weather conditions. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Herb |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. A non-woody, non-grass-like plant. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Leaf |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. Usually the flat/green structure attached to the branches/stem of a plant. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Lime |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. Refers to a variety of substances (such as calcium carbonate) that will alkalize, raise, soil pH. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Magnesium |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. Essential element used during photosynthesis (plant food production).  Soil test values of less than 40 ppm in mineral soils or 175 ppm in organic soils is considered low. Low results should  receive dolomitic Lime. High results should receive gypsum/ calcitic lime | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Mulch |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. A protective covering spread on the ground that helps to inhibit weed growth and conserve soil moisture. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Native Plant |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. O riginal to an area prior to human settlement. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}.  Organic Matter |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. Generally consists of the top soil layer that is comprised of former living organisms, such as leaves, that consists of dark brown/black color. Organic matter helps soils transmit air, water, and nutrients to the plant roots. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Parts Per Million (ppm) |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. Describes the concentration of something in soil or water. One ppm is equivalent to 1 milligram of something per kilogram/liter. 1 ppm equals 0.00001%. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Perennial |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. Plants that grow back each year and do not need to be re-planted or seeded. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Phosphorus |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. Important for root development and flowering. Ideal range for most landscape plants is between 10-50 ppm. Many states have banned/ minimized its use for lawn and gardening purposes due to excessive runoff causing eutrophication (nutrient induces algae blooms) in lakes and streams.   | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Potassium |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. Promotes natural plant resistance to disease, drought, and extreme temperature changes. Ideal range for most landscape plants is between 40-150 ppm. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Roots |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. Are the long fibrous/hair like structures that grow below the soil surface and are responsible for water and nutrient uptake as well as plant structure and support.   | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Sand |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. Is the largest/coarses soil particle and generally has the most pore (empty) space for holding air and water. Sandy soils are generally well drained and do not hold nutrients well. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Shoot |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. Refers to the new growth from a root or seed, including stem and leaves, that grows up from the ground. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Shrub |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. A small woody plant, typically smaller than a tree, that usually consists of multiple stems/ main branches. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Silt |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. Is smaller than sand and larger than clay particles. It has moderate pore space and water holding capacity. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Soil pH |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. Is a measures the acidity in the soil and can impact nutrient availability. pH can range on a scale from 0-14 whereby 0.0 is the most acidic and 14.0 is the most basic and 7.0 is neutral. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Soil Texture |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. Texture refers to the relative percentages of Sand, Silt, and Clay in your soil and can greatly alter how it will function to hold air, water and nutrients as well as resist erosion. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Species |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. A group of like individuals, as scotch pine or black oak. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Square Feet |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. Commonly used in the landscape industry when describing the size of your landscape beds and lawn. Can be calculated by multiplying length x width of an area. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Stem |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. The main shoot or branch of a plant. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Stump Grinding |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. Consists of a specialized piece of equipment used to remove above ground stumps, as well as some of the below ground growth, making room for the root ball of a new plant. | |\1/1. p={color:#424242;}. Tree |\1/1. p<{color:#424242;}. A woody plant, typically taller than a shrub, that is usually characterized as having a single, strong main trunk/ stem. |

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Disclaimer

The material displayed on this document is provided without any guarantees, conditions or warranties as to its accuracy. Unless expressly stated to the contrary to the fullest extent permitted by law The Right Plant LLC and its suppliers, content providers and advertisers hereby expressly exclude all conditions, warranties and other terms which might otherwise be implied by statute, common law or the law of equity and shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever, including but without limitation to any direct, indirect, special, consequential, punitive or incidental damages, or damages for loss of use, profits, data or other intangibles, damage to goodwill or reputation, or the cost of procurement of substitute goods and services, arising out of or related to the use, inability to use, performance or failures of this document or the Linked Sites and any materials posted thereon, irrespective of whether such damages were foreseeable or arise in contract, tort, equity, restitution, by statute, at common law or otherwise. This does not affect The Right Plant LLC’s liability for death or personal injury arising from its negligence, fraudulent misrepresentation, misrepresentation as to a fundamental matter or any other liability which cannot be excluded or limited under applicable law.


DIY Landscaper's Guide to Selecting The Right Plant

The DIY Landscaper's Guide to Selecting The Right Plant was written to help the the budget minded homeowner select the perfect plant for their landscape project. This helpful guide includes: - Information On Getting Started and Collecting Background Information - Resources and Inspiration on How To Build Your Own Landscape Design and Develop The Prefect Planting List. - A "Project Shopping Guide" To Help Select The Right Quantity and Size of Plants - Tips on Planting, Pruning, Watering, and General Maintenance of Your New Plants - Guidance On Where and How to Pick The Perfect Plant - A Glossary of Commonly Used Landscape Terms

  • ISBN: 9781370497874
  • Author: Alex Duncan
  • Published: 2016-08-26 18:45:14
  • Words: 6814
DIY Landscaper's Guide to Selecting The Right Plant DIY Landscaper's Guide to Selecting The Right Plant