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Cannon: For a perfect landscape, put right plants in the right place

POSTED: August 24, 2012 12:30 a.m.

Have you ever found a wonderful plant and decided to buy it without first looking at the tag to see what kind of conditions it needs and, more importantly, how large will it grow? It helps to know these things before you purchase ornamental plants and trees.

More than once, I have purchased lovely plants only to plant them in the wrong place and have to dig them up and relocate them to a more suitable location. With that being said, it is smart to research and make sure the right plant is in the right place the first time.

Every plant in the world was designed to grow in a specific location. Some want light while others grow well in the shade. Some like moist areas and others flourish in dry soils. And they even like different soil types and conditions. Some plants grow big while others stay small.

Our yards can be filled with overhead lines, underground pipes, building structures, patios and driveways. All of these things affect the trees and shrubs we plant.

I will focus mainly on trees, since they can be the most costly addition to our landscapes. If a well-chosen tree is planted where it was designed to be planted, the gardener will have a beautiful yard with far fewer maintenance issues. A healthy plant is a happy plant and the plant will have far fewer disease and insect problems. Also, less time will be spent on pruning and shaping to keep the tree contained in a space not suitable for the plant.

When selecting plants for the landscape, make a list of the plants based on their space, soil conditions, sunlight requirements and water needs (low, medium or high). This information can be found on the tag before you purchase typically.

Choose plants that have similar light and water needs together and this will reduce the amount of water applied to areas with plants that have high watering needs versus low needs. Matching plants together with similar needs will improve the overall health of each individual plant.

For example, plant a river birch and a bald cypress together. They both like moist soils. If you have a damp spot, these two trees will be good additions to a garden. I love Southern magnolia trees, but if they are planted too close to a foundation or right up against a house, they will not flourish. Better to plant one in a large open area, away from traffic areas.

Crape myrtles are beautiful trees and can be a nice focal point tree at the end of a walkway. But this tree needs full sun to bloom well, so making sure the planting site is well-suited for the tree is important.

Take advantage of wide-open spaces and plant trees that will be able to grow in these spaces. Knowing the growth habit of trees before you plant can add wonderful interest to your landscape. Whether you want to plant a tree for shade or add a tree for a stunning focal point, make sure the right selection is chosen for the site.

There is nothing more beautiful than a tree planted in a perfect spot. It is healthy and fits the location in size, shape and function. The right plant is an asset in the garden and will require little attention to ensure its growth.

Far too many times, we go to the nursery to purchase a plant with no thought concerning its hardiness zone, light, soil and growth habits. Fall is a great time to get out and do some planting, so select carefully. And get that right plant for the locations you have in your garden.

Landscapes add beauty and value to your home. The Extension office is here to help you select plants that will be wonderful additions to your home environment. Give us a call and we can help you select the proper plants for the proper site.

Check out the Hall County Master Gardeners Fall Garden Expo on Sept. 28-29 at the Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center in Gainesville. There will be a great selection of perennials, shrubs and trees suited for that perfect spot in your garden. Call 770-535-8293 if you need further information.

Wanda Cannon serves as Master Gardener coordinator and horticulture assistant for the Hall County Extension office. Phone: 770-535-8293. Her column appears biweekly and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.


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