By Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont
Once your landscape plan is complete, it's time to select the plants. But before you spend a single dollar, make sure the plants you plan to purchase fit your landscape needs, such as providing adequate shade or wind protection. Ornamental characteristics should be secondary to function.
The plants you pick should fit the environmental conditions you have identified as existing on the site. Trees should not interfere with overhead or underground utilities, and all plants should be planted where they'll have plenty of room to develop.
When designing the foundation planting, be sure to consider the overhang of the house. Plants growing under the overhang may not get the benefit of every rainfall, and thus, may grow in excessively dry soil. On the other hand, avoid planting directly in front of a down spout. During rainy weather, the plants may suffer root injury from soggy soil.
Use plants with thorns judiciously. They make excellent barrier plants but are unpleasant to prune or brush against along walks. Plants with fruits can be used as ornamentals, but place them carefully so they won't drop fruits onto walks, patios, or driveways, or into swimming pools.
A continuous bed planting of shrubs will be easier to establish and maintain than plants scattered about the lawn. Shrubs in individual holes usually are surrounded by grass that must be mowed or trimmed by hand. A shrub bed can be mulched for weed control. Plants can be more easily fertilized.
You also need to consider the seasonal effect of the planting. A row of shrubs along walks or the driveway may cause snow to drift and increase snow removal problems. Such plantings may be injured when snow is shoveled or blown onto them.
Lastly, check with your local nursery or garden store before purchasing any ornamentals, shrubs, or trees to make sure they are suitable for your area. Not all plants sold in nurseries may be hardy for your particular "microclimate", or climate unique to your property or even parts of it.
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