The pivotal part of a landscape design is the choice of plants. This choice can either make the design successful or create a disaster, so it is vital that the plants be carefully chosen. The following questions should be considered when you are about to buy your plants.
What do you want the plants to do? Some examples are – aesthetic appeal, reducing noise, climate control, to provide a screen for privacy or to increase the value of the property. How big is the area you need to fill? What climate do you have in your area? This includes sun, shade, rain, snow and wind. Will your choice of plant thrive in your area? How much can you spend on the plants? How much will you be able to spend on the maintenance of the plants?
Types of Landscaping Plants
Trees are the most significant aspect of any landscape, as they not only provide the area with shade, they also prevent soil erosion and can be employed as wind breaks. The most popular trees used in landscaping are deciduous, weeping ornamentals (such as cherry) and fall foliage trees such as Japanese Maple.
An evergreen tree does not drop its leaves – it retains its beautiful foliage all year and as such is the “backbone” of a landscape design. The more commonly used evergreens are Fir trees, Junipers, Spruce, many varieties of Pine trees and Yew trees.
Bushes, Shrubs and Hedges
These are defined as plants that have a woody stem structure and grow up to six meters high. Unlike trees that have one or two main “trunks”, these have many stems that commence at ground level and then spread close to the ground. Bushes, shrubs and hedges can be “trained” to grow into certain shapes to add interest to the landscape. Boxwood makes an ideal hedge. Others that make interesting plantings are Alpine Currant, Barberries and Adam’s Needle.
Annuals and Perennials
These plants usually have short lives that are completed in one seasonal cycle, although perennials can continue through further cycles as they re-seed. In the right climatic conditions, perennials can continue to grow beyond the life span of their seeds.
Ornamental grass, in addition to plants that require little attention such as the tough Aspidistra elatior, have become increasingly popular in modern landscape designs. The average height of ornamental grass is between six and fifteen inches, but they have many varieties of shape, color, size and texture.
Vines are climbers that require some form of support. This support can be in the form of a tree, other plants or a frame or wall. Vines can be used as an attractive cover on walls, but care should be taken as some can damage the mortar on brick walls. The vine can act as an insulator against high temperatures.
These plants grow close to the ground and form a dense cover or they also grow surrounding a tree, protecting the roots from any causes of soil erosion. Plants, such as the Cast Iron plant, can be planted in place of grass and to prevent soil erosion.
There are a number of ways that landscaping plants can be bought. They can be “balled” plants (the roots are surrounded by soil and covered in burlap), packaged (the roots are wrapped in plastic, not necessarily with soil, but often with wood shavings), in containers or pots, bare-rooted or in “market” packs or punnets (ground covers, perennials and annuals).