Ensure your gardening success by choosing the right place to plant | Home & Garden

In the May column, we discussed a quote often seen in gardening literature: “Plant the right plant in the right place. Selecting and planting a plant that will do well where it is planted (and that will do well without a lot of extra work on the gardener’s part) is fundamental to a successful landscape. Ignoring this gardening tip can mean a struggling plant that fails to thrive and a frustrated gardener. Selecting and installing the right plant in the right place results in less maintenance (e.g. pruning), less money spent on fertilizers and other chemicals, less water requirements, less disease and less insect problems.

Various accurate sites on the Internet offer excellent horticultural information; we often buy a plant because we fall in love with it without thinking about its future. It is essential to assess the needs of a plant in relation to your landscape. Even the greatest attention cannot help a plant if it is not adapted to a particular site.

A plant may outgrow or remain too small for its planting site. Sometimes it may interfere with pets and children and be damaged. Many things can happen to a plant that may be beyond our control, such as drought, cold, insects and disease. However, the choice of the plant and the place where it is planted is in our power.

We see repeated “crape kills” because the crape myrtle has outgrown its place. There’s a size for almost every location. If you must have a crape myrtle, choose one that is not murdered every year – pruned so that the limbs are cut back to the trunk.

There’s no such thing as a zero-maintenance yard (every gardener’s dream), but proper planning will promote a beautiful, low-maintenance landscape.

Last month’s article was about the selection process — choosing the right plant. Now is the time to choose the right place. The first step in choosing this site is to know your garden. Unfortunately, the wrong location can doom a plant before it has a chance.


• Plants, like puppies, grow. This four-pound puppy can eventually grow into an 80-pound adult. A plant in a four ounce cup can grow into a 60 foot tree. Choose the place to house a mature plant, not the tiny thing that arrives in the mail or from the garden store. The plants grow in diameter as well as in height. One of the biggest gardening mistakes I see is when homeowners choose the wrong foundation planting and end up trying to keep shrubs under the windows, a battle that ends up being lost.

• Consider your landscape carefully and decide how much space you need for children, pets or recreation. These may not be the best places to start a rose garden (or even have one nearby).

• Study the landscape in pieces, not as a whole. Each area of ​​a landscape does not have the same conditions. Most landscapes have a microclimate where growing conditions can vary from the rest of the region.

• A slope may be drier and may be more suitable for hard ground cover than delicate shrubs.

• Places directly against a building can usually be much warmer and even affect the climate zone and walls can crowd out a plant. Some plants that require acidic soil may resent the alkaline soil that goes along with a foundation.

• Determine if certain areas are windier, as plants, especially younger ones, may need protection from strong winds. The wind can dry out the plant and the soil.

• It is important to understand if your planting site has poor drainage that will eventually drown a plant. Some locations are better suited for rain gardens. On the other hand, some of us have small desert areas.

• High traffic areas may not be good planting sites. Some thorny shrubs are not good choices for sites near people on paths, pets, or rest areas.

• Know the sun and shade patterns in your landscape. Shade plants do not do well in the sun and sun plants do not flower in deep shade. Plants requiring part or full sun do not develop beautiful flowers or foliage in the shade. One could easily find oneself constantly watering a plant growing in full sun that prefers shade.

• Know your USDA climate zone and select plants for your zone. If a plant is labeled for zone 1 or zone 11, it surely won’t do well in our zone 7A/8B. A plant that prefers a warmer climate will balk at our cold nights, unless the gardener wants to insulate the plants all winter (à la Martha Stewart, who packs her plants).

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• Plants grow and change, which makes them more interesting. When a plant grows, it means it survives. Even if we do our best, a plant always dies; we select a new good plant and choose another good place. We may need to do this because conditions in our gardens change or we change.

• Study your planting site. If it includes a steep incline, think carefully. Slopes are difficult to mow safely and can be hard on some plants as water can wash them away. Choose a plant that can handle a slope – a nice, non-invasive ground cover, for example. If you have lots of extra money, you can terrace your slope with walls and build fabulous gardens. Mulch often washes down a slope.

• Determine the degree of competition your new plant will have. Is the area already cluttered with old trees, roots of other plants, or even invasive plants? A beginner will find it difficult to impose himself under these conditions. There is only a limited amount of water, light, air and nutrients.

• Determine the exposure of your planting site: north, south, west or east. A southern exposure can be very hot and is best suited for plants that can tolerate a lot of heat. A northern exposure can be colder and more shady. Everyone longs for an oriental exposure – the morning light. A western exposure brings the warm afternoon sun.

• Check your lines of sight. Will the weed obscure your driveway, making it hard to see what’s coming down the road, or perhaps block a driver from seeing you?

• Know where your utilities, underground and overhead are. Ask your utility company to mark underground utilities before digging. Look up as well as down. We all know what can happen when a factory gets too close to a power line: a bad haircut.

• Familiarize yourself with your type of soil: sandy soil, red clay or nice loamy soil. It may be necessary to amend your soil for a large planting. Return native soil for single-hole planting. Some plants can tolerate red clay, some cannot.

• The right planting style is essential to the health of a plant. Simple and clear, don’t bury a plant, plant it. Plants should be installed higher than ground level.

• Know the pH of your soil (acid or alkaline). Plants can be tricky. Lilacs prefer alkaline soils and azaleas thrive in acidic soils. It is difficult to make changes to adapt on a large scale. Select a plant that is happy in what you have.

• Know the property boundaries. Adjacent neighbors may not want your plants in their gardens. Homeowners can prune your hanging plants in their garden.

• Every plant deserves a good home; prepare your site and complete the planting work. Mulch is important for new and old plants. Mulch moderates soil temperatures, helps retain moisture, prevents soil cracking, enriches soil, reduces weeds, and protects an innocent plant from weed eater and lawnmower. Think of the shape of a donut or bagel — not a teepee or a volcano — when applying mulch.

• Consider a plant’s characteristics when planting it. Plants with bad thorns or poisonous parts should be taken care of.

• Bring together factories with the same desires; those who need more water together, while those who prefer drier circumstances go well together.

• Place your plants where you can reach them. Avoid placing plants that require a lot of water or maintenance in remote locations. Too easy to forget!

• Select accurate sources for your information when choosing information about the right place. Sites ending in .org and .edu usually have the most recent searches.

I remember times in my life as a gardener when plants died quickly or slowly and were healthy when I planted them – 98% of the time it was because I placed them in the wrong place. I wanted the plant, and that was pretty much all I could think of. I now take extra care when choosing a location. I spent a lot of time moving plants in my garden because it became too difficult to water them or they didn’t do well in their original place.

No matter how perfect the plant is, it won’t be perfect for long if the location doesn’t meet its needs.

Do April showers bring May flowers? See the photos here to see which ones.

Sherry Blanton, “The Southern Gardener”, writes about gardening for The Anniston Star. Contact her at sblanton@annistonstar.com. Follow her on Facebook at Southern Gardener-Anniston Star.

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