How to Choose Plants for Landscaping

Overview

Choosing plants for your garden takes some planning. You need to know the style, size and colors of plants that you want to see through your windows and enjoy when you are outside. Plants provide shade, food, fragrance and color. They can also attract wildlife and/or be resistant to deer and other animals. Most landscapes have distinct areas of sun and shade; consider each area when selecting plants.

Providing Shade

Step 1

If you have a sunny southern exposure and hot summers, planting shade trees on that side of the house will help reduce indoor heat. Look for trees and shrubs that are tall.

Step 2

Consider the space you have so that larger plants have room to grow. Allow for roots as well as foliage.

Step 3

Find out about growing habits and care the tree will need. Some trees drop leaves in the fall, others have fruit that can be messy and require regular clean up all year long.

Relaxing Space

Step 1

Find plants and color schemes that you like. Visit nurseries, look at garden books and magazines, walk around your neighborhood and explore public gardens.

Step 2

Select plants that grow in the area you plan to use for relaxing. Lavender adds soothing fragrance, but it needs full sun to do well. If you have a shady area, choose plants that will grow in filtered light or shade.

Step 3

Choose a variety of plant sizes to group together. Plant tall plants in back, low-growing border plants in the front. Select foliage and flower colors that complement each other.

Growing Food

Step 1

Find an area in full sun for vegetables and herbs. Vegetables need lots of space.

Step 2

Select smaller varieties of tomatoes to grow in containers in a sunny area.

Step 3

Add your favorite herbs in containers or in the ground.

Growing Native Plants

Step 1

Visit a native plant nursery in your area to select plants.

Step 2

Consider wildlife. Native plants attract birds, butterflies, insects and other wildlife to your garden.

Step 3

Find out which species are invasive in your area and avoid planting them. Enature.com has lists of native and invasive plants for all geographical areas.

Tips and Warnings

  • Be sure to put plants with the same water and sunlight requirements together.

References

  • 15 Tips for Desgining a Garden
  • Selecting Landscape Plants: Shade Trees
  • Vegetable Gardens for Beginners

Who Can Help

  • How to Create a Relaxing Garden Retreat
  • Design Principles - several articles
  • Native Gardening and Invasive Plants Guide
Keywords: shade trees, invasive plants, native plants, landscape design

About this Author

Kathleen Sonntag lives in Carmel, California, where she is a writer, teacher and editor. She is a Master Gardener and writes articles for gardening publications. Sonntag has written and edited reading test passages and has edited children's books, cookbooks and memoirs. Her articles appear on GardenGuides.com. Sonntag holds a Bachelor of Arts from University of California, Berkeley.