Have you every fallen in love with a plant at a nursery and decided to you just had to have it? You take it home, and then wander about, wondering where you can put your newly acquired plant? No? Then you probably are not a plant geek, like me. That is just one way a home landscape can become a hodge-podge and not really look as good as it could.
A much more common occurrence is when a home is landscaped with plants without taking into consideration the ultimate size of those plants. After a few years, crowded evergreen shrubs start thinning out. Or that little shrub is now pushing through the eaves of your roof. Or that supposedly dwarf shrub has blocked the view out of your large picture windows — not so dwarf after all! This is where “Right Plant/Right Place” is so important, and the subject of the Texas Lecture Series Saturday. Details to follow.
Creating a functional, attractive landscape with the lowest possible maintenance requires planning in the beginning. Understanding the site’s assets and liabilities will help you choose the best plants to fit every situation and location. How much room is available for a plant to grow? How much sunlight does each area receive throughout the day? Is the soil well-drained, or does it stay wet for days on end after a rain? Is the soil acidic or alkaline? Are there microclimates where you live that would affect the hardiness of plants you might select? For example, is your home in the lowest spot in the neighborhood? Cold air flows to low spots and is often several degrees colder than surrounding areas.
All these and more are things to consider before heading off to the local nursery or garden center. Once you have analyzed your site, you can start selecting plants to fit each area’s characteristics and your design objectives. Accessing good plant references applicable for the region is crucial to learn each potential plant’s characteristic (like average width and height, hardiness, soil and light preferences). Picking the wrong plants for a site, or grouping plants with dissimilar needs together can lead to problems, increased maintenance or even stressed and dying plants.
To learn more about “Right Plant/Right Place,” and for an opportunity to ask landscape designers questions regarding your landscape design needs, come to the East Texas Garden Lecture series Saturday at the Tyler Rose Garden Center. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., and the program starts at 9 a.m.
I will discuss in more detail “Right Plant/Right Place” and, following a short break, the lecture will continue with “Ask the Designer,” with Laurie Breedlove of Breedlove Nursery & Landscape in Tyler. Also, James Wilhite, of Wilhite Landscape, and I will field landscape design questions from the audience. Cost for the morning program is $15 or $45 for this and the remaining five lectures in the series.
Keith Hansen is Smith County horticulturist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. His web page is http://EastTexasGardening.tamu.edu. His blog is http://agrilife.org/etg.