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Landscape Design Ideas & Pictures

How to Design a Great Yard with Landscape Plants (page 1 of 4)

Make sure you put the right plant in the right place. Learn how to choose and where to place your plants so you can create a low-maintenance landscape that will thrive for years to come.

More in Outdoors

Courtesy of Julie A. Martens

Water garden plants, like these water lettuce, Pistia stratiotes, are easy to place. Set them afloat in a water garden and watch them multiply. Note: Use water lettuce cautiously in warmer climates. If they escape cultivation, they'll colonize native waterways.

Everyone knows that you don’t want to place a water plant in a desert garden. That’s a recipe for plant-icide. But the same is true for many other types of plants — many prairie plants won’t thrive in waterlogged soil, and many rock garden plants keel over if they’re tucked into rich, loamy garden beds. How do you know if a plant will thrive in your landscape? It all boils down to right plant, right place.

This modern gardening philosophy plays matchmaker in the landscape, placing plants in a spot where they’ll naturally thrive — with minimal input from the gardener. The result is a landscape design that’s a breeze to maintain.

Benefits of Right Plant, Right Place

When you put the right plant in the right place, giving it nearly ideal growing conditions, several things happen:

  • Plants establish quickly, growing and bulking up
  • Plants produce healthy root systems and steady top growth
  • Plants withstand attack by insects and diseases. Plants in the wrong place have a compromised immune system, if you will, and when a bug comes, they’re ripe for the infecting.

The biggest investment you’ll make when you tackle right plant, right place gardening occurs before you stick trowel into soil. Planning is the key to success with this concept. By investing more time before planting, you’ll invest less time maintaining plantings. You’ll be gardening smarter and greener — and saving money, too.

Start With Hardiness Zone

The USDA Hardiness Zone reveals if plants will survive winters in your region. Many gardeners push the envelope on hardiness zone and grow plants from one zone warmer. They tuck these questionable survivors into a sheltered backyard or maybe in a planting bed near a southern wall of their home, where temperatures don’t fall quite as far in winter. For sure success, though, fill a landscape design using plants that are hardy to your zone. Not sure what your zone is? Learn here.

Inventory Light

Some plants need full sun to thrive; others require shade. You’ll get the best gardening results when you know what kind of light your yard offers. To figure this out, on a day when you’re home, watch the sun as it hits your landscape areas. Ideally, check it every hour — and make notes. That way, when a plant tag says “partial shade,” you’ll know if your yard serves those conditions.

Pictured below: Light makes all the difference in a plant’s success. Traditional bleeding-heart, Dicentra spectabilis, grows best in part to full shade.

Courtesy of Julie A. Martens

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