A beautifully planted landscape instantly increases a home's curb appeal. If a professional landscape designer isn't in the budget, a little research helps decide what plants to choose for your own landscape design. The plants' appearance is only one factor in selecting landscape features. While an aesthetically pleasing landscape is important, the growth habits and plants' conditions are a necessary consideration before you begin digging.
Assess the growing conditions in the area you wish to landscape. Determine the amount of sunlight, type of soil and the quality of drainage in the area. Note any large structures that will influence the plant selection for the area.
Determine the planting zone of your area using the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. The map displays the color-coded zones and allows you to zoom in to find your location. The zones are determined by the climate and help identify plants that will grow well in your area. Choose plants recommended for your specific planting zone.
Make a quick sketch of the landscape, including any structures and current landscaping that you wish to keep. Mark the various functional areas of the yard as well as the areas you are landscaping.
Browse landscaping magazines such as Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design or Country Gardens. Make notes of the plants and designs that appeal to you. Look around your neighborhood for similar inspiration. Ask your neighbors for the names of the plants that you like.
Make a list of the general plant types you wish to include in the landscape. If the list includes flowers, note the colors and size of flowers you want. Determine the height you want the plants to reach. Many landscapes include plants of various heights. Note the height of features such as windows on the house to make sure you choose plants that won't eventually cover them.
Visit the local nursery to browse the plants available. Make notes of the plants that draw your attention. Research the plants you like to determine how well they will work in your landscape. Determine the growth pattern and mature height, the ideal soil type, the level of moisture and the amount of sunlight needed for each plant. Assess how well your landscape meets each of these needs for the plants.