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By Terri Mitchell

Choosing the right plants for your garden

There are few things as disappointing as spending money on plants and flowers, only to have them die a slow, withering death. Take time to plan your landscaping project and make a list of the plants that you are looking for. The plants you choose at the greenhouse or nursery can make or break your garden.

Some things to keep in mind when choosing plants include the following:

Your hardiness zone. Before you step foot in a nursery or garden store, know your hardiness zone. This is a guide to the best plants for your distinct region and climate. Seasoned retailers will be able to tell you which plants will best adapt to your garden when you take them home.

The placement. Where you plan to plant makes a difference. When used together – entrance, foundation, and corner plants – you can create a cohesive curb appeal that will garner attention:

Entrance plants capture the eye and grab attention. Some examples of entrance plants are topiary trees, cypress and hydrangea.

Foundation plants are typically shorter plants that are positioned under the windows of the home. Some popular foundation plants include azaleas, boxwoods and gardenias. These are full and tend to balance out the rest of your landscaping.

Corner plants are taller to accentuate the linear angle of the structure and bring attention to the entrance to your home. Some lovely corner plants are juniper, spruce, and camellia.

The maintenance. If you have a green thumb, you may be able to nurture any seed to grow, but if you have limited time to care and maintain your gardens, look at some easy to care for options. Depending on where you live, some hardy options that are resilient and easy to grow include these:

White and rose verbena is a colorful ground cover that will bloom all season.

Dwarf spruce trees require full sun, but little care.

Blue lyme grass likes the cooler weather and lies dormant in winter.

The goal. Your goal for gardening is something else to consider when choosing your plants. Are you seeking privacy or trying to conceal some feature of your property? Perhaps you are seeking some plants to provide a bit of shade? Also, many gardeners may do it for food or to stock their home with fresh produce all summer. Think about your purpose for planting and consider these suggestions:

– For privacy, create your own living fence to obscure your property, porch, or space from view. Use fast-growing climbers like English ivy or wisteria on fences or trellises.

– Seeking shade? Young, fast-growing trees may be your best bet; consider paper birch, weeping willow or red maple saplings. Keep in mind that these young trees can grow over three feet per year.

– Vegetables and herbs are an investment that will pay off later. If you don’t have the space for big vegetable gardens, consider planting easy-to-grow herbs or a patch of quick-climbing cucumbers for summer salads and pickles.

A garden can bring joy and pleasure all summer long; make sure that you choose plants, flowers and trees that will thrive and grow when you add them to your landscaping. Do your homework and don’t get swayed by exotic tropicals that cost more and that may not adapt well to your hardiness zone. Consider planting native species for the easiest care, and talk with gardening experts about the best landscaping ideas for your distinct property, purpose, and price point.

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