The Rockdale Gardener

Gardening Posts From Rockdale Cooperative Extension

Choosing the Right Plants for Your Landscape


container trees are easier to plant and care for than balled and burlap trees

When designing your own landscape, you have to decide what plants are right for your situation. Many factors affect this decision; cost, plant size, available space, location, evergreen or deciduous, ease of cultivation, and personal tastes. Often times, the latter is the factor by which we make our plant choices but this isn’t always the best way. Some of the most beautiful plants are the most difficult to grow so consider factors other than personal tastes and then choose the most attractive plant.

The cost of a plant usually is relative to the size of the plant. Plants come in various sizes of containers ranging from two-inch cups up to 35-gallon pots. Trees and shrubs can be purchased with the roots balled in burlap. These trees can be thirty feet tall and weigh a ton or more. An oak can be bought as a seedling for a couple of dollars or as a twelve-inch caliper tree (the diameter of the trunk two feet off the ground) for more than two thousand dollars. Generally, the bigger the nursery stock, the more expensive it is.

The ultimate size of a plant is very important when choosing the right plant. The plant must fill the 100_1607space allotted it but not overgrow its site. Consideration must be given to the tree’s roots so that they eventually do not damage sidewalks, foundations and septic systems. Shrubs that are used as foundation plants should be slow growing so pruning every week isn’t necessary.

The location where a plant is to be sited must be thoroughly examined before choosing a plant to fill it. The soil consistency must be established to know if it will drain well. Some plants need well-drained soil and would not do well in a site that remains moist for too long. The amount of sun the location gets per day is important in establishing what plants are needed. You wouldn’t want full sun plants in the shade and vice versa.

Decide whether the plant would suit your needs better if it were evergreen or if it were deciduous. DSC07297Screening plants should be evergreen to block unwanted views year round. Shade trees and flowering shrubs are deciduous for the most part so they will drop their leaves in fall. Siting one near your pool or pond may cause problems later.

The factor I feel is most important in choosing the right plant is the relative ease with which it can be cultivated. Generally, the easiest plants to cultivate are native plants. These plants are acclimated to growing in the harsh Rockdale County climate and are relatively simple to establish and maintain. Some people would suggest you use natives solely, but I say consider them always but choose the plant that is right for you whether it is native or not. If you happen to choose exotic plant material, check to be sure it isn’t invasive or you could have a mess on your hands.