How to choose appropriate plants and trees for your location

Whether your landscaping needs a face lift, or you are starting with a blank slate it is important to choose plants that will thrive in your location!  There are multiple things you need to look at when picking out plant material.

First, what zone do you live in?  You want to choose trees and plants that will live in your area.  If you live in the Midwest where you have harsh winters, you don’t want to plant a tropical palm tree.  It won’t live through winter!  Most of your local nurseries and garden centers will only stock and sell plants that are hardy and adapted for your area, but it is always a good idea to do your research on the plants that you purchase before getting busy with planting.  Some exceptions to this are houseplants and plant material marketed as annuals.

After you know what will grow in your area, you need to check to see if it will grow in your soil! Planting locations within the same planting zone –and even the same property—can have different soil make-ups.  Your soil could be rich and loamy, or it could be rocky, or even mostly clay.  You can find trees and plants that will work in each area, but DO YOUR RESEARCH or talk to an expert at your local plant nursery.  No one wants to spend their hard earned dollars on plants and trees to just to have them die because they won’t grow well in certain soil types.

Pay attention to how your yard holds water.  Is it dry and well drained? Does it retain water when it rains? Is your yard irrigated?  This is all something that you need to think about when choosing what and where to plant.  If you have a constant wet spot in your yard you don’t want to plant something that can’t thrive in constant water.  Instead plant a cypress or willow tree or some grasses.  A Cypress and Willow tree will grow under water and most ornamental grasses (prairie grass natives especially) have SUPER deep roots that can help to absorb excess water.  Or even consider installing a rain garden that will help rain water absorb into the ground and by the plants if you have a really wet area in your yard.

If you have a dry yard and don’t have a way to water your landscaping, and you don’t get a lot of rain annually, try planting a xeriscape design.  This includes plants that require very little water – think succulents, yuccas, and hardy desert plants—and other design elements like rocks and boulders.

The final element to consider when planting is light level.  Is it sunny or shady in that area of your yard?  Is it southern sun exposure? Only morning or afternoon sun?  Do you already have large trees that shade your yard? You can easily find plants that will grow better in each condition, and some plants may grow just fine in both!

If you consider these elements when picking out plants and trees you should have success with your landscape design!  Happy planting!