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Right Plant, Right Place

How to avoid most plant problems with one concept

These 35-year-old hollies have outgrown their planting bed, top. The view from inside the home is obstructed and a potential security issue has been created. The trees look healthy, but it would be very difficult to transplant them successfully. Both should be removed. The holly at right was planted too close to the house. Select replacement plants for this area that grow no more than four feet in height. If a taller specimen is desired for the corner of the house, the distance of the planting hole from the house should be at least one foot greater than the radius of the plant’s mature width. If the plant can grow to 25 feet wide, dig the hole at least 13.5 feet away from the house.
     Many plant problems in your landscape can be avoided by choosing the right plant for the purpose and the site. Many insects and diseases are opportunists, taking advantage of plants that are stressed and aren’t healthy enough to fight back.
     Whether your landscape plants are having issues with insects, diseases, lack of blooming or just overall poor performance, chances are that they were not suited for the location in the first place.
 
Plant Selection Is the Key
     What function do you want the plants to serve in your landscape and what are the site conditions? Answer these two questions to help resolve existing problems and help select the best plants for the job. Plants that are appropriate for the site require a lot less maintenance. Consider the following conditions of your site when choosing plants:
Available space
Available sunlight
Plant hardiness zone
Soil conditions and soil test results
 
     Visit your local garden center to see what is available. Then search your library or the internet to find or confirm the plant’s basic requirements and mature size. It is best to evaluate your entire property instead of reacting to problems on a plant-by-plant basis.
     Mark up a copy of your home’s plat map with your landscaping ideas. Your plan will be a combination of existing features in your landscape, plants to be retained and new features and plants to incorporate.
 
Size Matters
     Mature plant size is one of the most important factors to consider when evaluating an existing landscape or selecting plants for a new site. Always consider the full-grown height and width of a plant when making your selection. The full-grown plant should fit well within your property line. It should not extend over sidewalks or driveways or touch structures like houses or sheds.
     When an existing plant has grown too big for the location and continuous pruning makes it look less than desirable, what should you do? Remove it and replant with something more appropriate for the location.
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