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Plant selection

  • Difficulty:
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    Beginner Do-It-Yourselfer - Easy
    Intermediate Do-It-Yourselfer - Moderate
    Experienced Do-It-Yourselfer - Difficult
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Fill your flowerbeds with plants that will thrive in your environment. Your criteria for choosing the right plants should include colour (whether you’re aiming for a contrasting or monochromatic effect), shape, flowering, foliage (dense or not), form and size. Maintenance requirements and soil conditions should also factor into your decision.
Planters, containers, large flowerpots, trees and shrubs arranged carefully on the patio or deck can greatly enhance your outdoor décor. Maximize space with vertical gardening, and adorn your arbours, archways, and pergolas with climbing plants; you’ll gain on the privacy front as well.
Here are a few of the criteria that will facilitate your choice of plants.

For landscaping that works

 

It takes more than just good taste to create successful and beautiful landscaping. You need to use your imagination and be inspired by your home’s architecture, since the house and surrounding yard must be treated as the same entity. Plan well and follow some basic rules; planning your landscaping and selecting the plants for it will be an enjoyable experience.

 

Flowering and colours

Contrasting colours bring vibrancy to a flowerbedThe blooms of a plant are without a doubt its primary attraction, so you’ll generally want to consider two things:

  • when the plant comes into bloom, and
  • the colour of its flowers.

When this has been established, you can set up a colour scheme for your flowerbeds and maintain a steady display of colourful flowers throughout the summer.

Tips on using colour

  • Strong contrasts create a dramatic effect, such as bright red with light yellow, white with dark blue, or dark orange with blue.
  • A softer display can be created with a monochromatic theme, such as various shades and nuances of pink.
  • A dominant colour with accents in its complementary colour produces a colourful result with a harmonious balance. This could be a cool shade, such as blue or purple as the dominant colour with complementary yellow accents; or, a warm shade such as red or crimson as the dominant colour with complementary blue accents.
  • Adding a touch of grey can tone down a contrast that is too strong or buffer two colours that don't mix well together.

 

A variety of foliage

Dense foliage provides the impression of abundanceDifferent types of foliage provide a wide range of textures and colours:

Fine foliage produces a “light” effect (European birch, honey locust);

  • Dense foliage provides the impression of abundance (Norwegian maple, cedar);
  • Fanned-out foliage lets the light through to a shaded or semi-shaded area ('Drummondii' maple, 'Elegantissima' dogwood);
  • Foliage with contrasting colours is an attention-grabber ('Crimson King', 'Golden Globe' cedar, 'Diabolo' ninebark);
  • Foliage with special autumn colours can make for a striking portrait (serviceberry, red maple, ginkgo).

 

Size

Landscaping using plants of various sizesThe size of a plant at maturity should be a factor in deciding where you should plant it. A large plant can end up overwhelming other plants in your garden, prevent them from growing properly and disturbing the balance you’re trying to create. Slow-to-develop plant species or plants that will remain small are options to consider for the short or medium term.

 

 

 

 

Form

Plants of different formsThe form of a plant is the shape the plant will become if left to grow naturally and not pruned. If you’re looking for a particular effect, such as an umbrella-shaped tree, it's best to choose a tree that tends to grow that way naturally.

 

 

 

 

 

Plants suited to their environment

Plants adorning an archwayNot too many people are born with a green thumb, but you can develop one through observation and understanding your plants’ needs.
 
The main soil characteristics affecting plant growth are drainage and pH (degree of acidity). In this guide, you’ll find descriptions of the preferred soil conditions for the different plants listed.
 

 Sun exposure requirements refer to how much sunlight a given plant needs, which can be:

  • full sun: 6 hours or more of direct sun per day;
  • partial-shade: 3 to 6 of filtered sunlight; or
  • shade: 2 to 3 hours of filtered or direct sunlight.

Too little or too much sun can affect a plant’s growth and the quality of its blooms; it can even kill certain plants.
 
Whether a plant is easy to care for depends on its pest and disease-resistance, cultivation requirements (type of soil, fertilizers) and the need to prune. Some plants are delicate and require special care, whereas others can thrive with only minimal maintenance.
 
Hardiness refers to a code attributed to a plant based on its capacity to resist cold temperatures. It is a useful tool for choosing plants that will do well in your region and climate conditions (you should consult a climate zone map). Keep in mind that a hardiness rating may be affected either positively or negatively by other climate conditions, such as a microclimate, wind corridor, or heavy snow fall.

The best way to choose plants for an easy-care garden is to follow the criteria we outlined above. However, if you see something you like, go ahead and take a chance; you never know what wonderful surprises nature can give you in the garden!
 

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A front yard flowerbed arrangement

 

Plant selection