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Selecting plants for your garden

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How to select plants

Selecting plants to suit the environment is the key to successful planting. Plants add color, texture, perfume and shapes to your garden. Plants give shade, act as screens, can help you control erosion, become highlights - you name it and they can do it.

Create the right environment

A mistake that most people make is they neglect to research what plants are best grown in their environment. The most important thing to consider when planting is how big your plants will grow. The last thing you want is a tree that outgrows its area, with a root system that reaches into your foundations and drainage pipes. Think about what kind of light your plants need, what are the best types of soil; heat and wind tolerance levels.

When you go to your local nursery make sure you have a good idea of what you want. This will avoid buying too many mistakes. Make sure you ask more about any plant you don't know before you buy anything you did not plan to buy.

Do some research online - there is a wealth of information with hundreds of photos of almost any plant you can dream of having in your garden. Try searching databases starting with the area you live in, type, color, name, and you can see instantly what you want and what do not want.

Another mistake you can make is to buy plants that require different weather conditions to yours. Check the labels on the plants for details about where they grow best. If a plant does not have a label check with whoever is running the nursery. Sometimes plant labels may be incorrect so doing your research can save you costly mistakes.

What to Look for when selecting your plants

When planning your plant selection the following are some primary considerations to keep in mind when nursery shopping:

  • The most important thing to consider is how high and wide the plants you choose are going to grow. Planting large plants in unsuitable areas can be a costly disaster.
  • Consider the form of the plants you choose. How will they grow into the area you choose for them? Plants will grow into forms and shapes as they mature - columns, weeping, climbing, creeping, and oval. How does this fit with their permanent home?
  • Use plant textures to give your garden light and shade. Texture relates to the thickness a nd colors of the leaves. The rule is to use lighter textured plants more densely than those with coarser textures.
  • Think about how your plants change with the seasons - fruit, color, and foliage.

Now here are some secondary things to think about when choosing plants for your garden:

  • Are your plants insect and disease resistant?
  • What type of light do they need to thrive in your garden?
  • How much water do your plants need to survive?
  • Are your plants drought resistant?
  • What type of soil preparation do you need to do for your new plants?

Remember, before you visit your local nursery, do your research - online, at the library or at your local bookstore. Don't just drop into the nursery to 'pick up a few things'. You may regret it some time in the future.