No landscape is complete without at least a few trees, plants and flowers. An all-lawn yard is boring. There's no variation in height or color to break up the green expanse. Before planting consider drawing a sketch of the area. Note the other plants, wind patterns and water drainage before deciding what to plant.
Select flowers, plants and trees that are appropriate for your area, will thrive in your hardiness zone and fit the size of your yard. A small backyard will look overwhelmed with a huge eucalyptus tree growing 20 feet wide and 50 feet high. There won't be room for anything else. Check with your local plant nursery or university agricultural extension office for recommendations.
Decide the purpose of planting the flowers and trees. If you want privacy, select trees that will grow tall enough and wide enough to do so. Deciduous trees may not be a good choice for privacy because they drop their leaves for at a portion of the year. If you want a tree for decorative purposes that changes with the seasons, make sure it flowers in the spring and turns color in the fall.
Choose a location for the tree where it will not interfere with the house or other buildings. Dig a hole that is twice as wide and deep as the tree's nursery container. Replace 1/4 of the soil with compost. Add slow-release fertilizer as the label directs. Backfill the hole so it is slightly shallower than the nursery container.
Remove the tree from the container and place in the hole. The soil on the root ball of the tree should be a few--no more than 2 or 3--inches below the soil of the ground.
Dig holes for the plants as you did for the tree in a border around the tree half as wide as the bushes grow. For example, if the bushes grow to 5 feet wide, then plant them 2 1/2 feet from the tree. Remove from their containers and plant.
Dig a border around the plants that's 3 feet wide next to the bushes.
Add compost and fertilizer to the soil and mix well. Plant flowers in this border area. Annuals are a good choice because as the tree grows it will shade more and more of the surrounding area. While you might start out with flowers that love the sun, in a few years it may be too shady. Annuals only grow for one season. Replace them with shade-loving perennials in future years as the tree grows.
Keep the tree well watered the first weeks after planting. Thereafter add fertilizer to all the plants on a monthly basis. Follow package instructions. Water if rainfall doesn't amount to an inch per week during the growing season.