Weekend Landscape Planting Tips.
Now is the time many get the itch to go buy some plants to plant in their landscape. Some tips from years of experience.
Plant in odd numbers. 3’s, 5’s etc…. This forces you to not plant in such a uniform, rigid (do it yourself look) fashion. Thats rule # 1
Rule 2. Plant in layers. Low growers up front, medium growers in back. and maybe a couple bigger sizes in back to give the appearance of an existing garden. Spend the few extra bucks on these plants because I will detail how to save money on some of the others.
Planting is eyewash ( a merchandisers term). Do not make the mistake of buying all 1 and 2 gallon plants. I drive by many weekend projects like this and it looks hokey.
You can however use theses smaller less expensive plants on you low first groupings. These are probably the plants you will buy more of than others sizes. Low growers like euonymus ( in many shades and colors) , some dwarf day lilies , certain barberries, or any dwarf habit plant. Then add the middle group. Buy some slightly larger plants like 3-5 gallon size and lay them out in groupings. You don’t need them all in the same area. These you may get your informal balance by placing toward the ends with one in the middle if your using 3’s as a guide. You will use less of these larger slightly more expensive plants.
Then the 3-4 ft size in back. You can buy even buy a couple single variety plants plant for these more expensive plants.
Consider shapes, color etc in all decisions.
Some of the first row plants, instead of placing through out the whole area can be grouped in 3s and 5s in a small area. Especially if it has same color foliage or flower. This will give a striking appearance of group color.
I like to plant in triangles sometimes my self. One smaller plant at the head and 2 plants closely behind. 5’s you can alternate 2-1-2 or 2 an 3’s.
In corners, plant a larger plant in the back corner (can be single larger specimen plant). I use a lot of upright habit plants in these areas instead of spreaders. Plants like arborvitae, full grown dwarf alberta spruce, etc. This gives a nice balanced look.
In perennial beds, you may use all 1-2 gallon size plants. These new growers every year, so all you need to choose is growth habits instead of immediate sizes when dealing with shrubs.
You may even use some perennials mixed in as your first row plants groupings for color similar to others in different areas, but different plants. This looks nice without the repetitive plants throughout.
Some times repetition can be good , others not so good.
An easy way to accomplish this whole scheme is this.
Drive around the neighborhood ( or walk), make note of others plantings. Make note of what looks good to you as far as color, species , layout etc.
Chose 2-3 main color combinations you want. I like various greens, reds and yellows, myself.
Once the colors you like are established, it is easy to go to the next step.
Research these color choices for plants with these colors. Consider the growth habit, and texture. Different leaf textures and sizes look great.
Find 1 or 2 of the big variety for the back layer. I like the evergreens for the back drop. Other lighter colors stand out and look great against this backdrop.
Decide on the 2-3 or 4 medium plants you want for the medium row. Other greens, reds , yellows , etc.
Then, depending on area size, find the 1-2 gallon front row guys.
Could be 3 -5 different plants. Some other great choices are blue junipers and even a blue fescue ornamental grass. Low, slow, grower. One trick I use is if I use a group of one color in one bed, i carry the color scheme into the next beds , but with different plants(the non repetition thing). Use one blue somewhere, use the other blue in adjacent, differently shaped beds,
. BLOOMS, and FLOWERS.
Chose plants and consider Flowers. Try to stagger the blooming times for all plants to give an always blooming affect. Some plants are valued for the leaf color and texture and don’t bloom which is great. You can plants single variety bloomers in the same color in color groups together for a striking effect when in bloom. Usually the front row, low growers.
Middle row can have some distribution in the whole area . Lighter blooms (whites, light pinks, or even purples and bright reds) stand out against the larger back drops of the greens for a great look.
When planting, don’t use any fertilizers at the time of planting other than organic enhancements in the hole. Other fertilizers can actually burn newly transplanted roots.
Some even argue about over enhancing the soil (unless it is terrible) in the planting holes. The idea behind it is this:
If you make the soil to good in the hole and it is not so good just outside the hole, the roots wont spread out as well into these areas later. It’s like being in a warm, controlled climate house, then going out in the cold. If you could, you would stay in the comfortable area.
Go see some others landscapes, make notes, choose plants and get at it this weekend.
Lay out the entire thing first before you dig one hole!
Start with back row, then the middle, then the front.
Step back, view from different angles and the same ones others will view it from. Tweak, reposition if necessary.
Once it’s right, DIG.
WATER THEM SLOWLY. Immediately, continuously until established.
See my previous article about shrub bed weed control to keep weeds out of your new plants.