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Choosing Plants

Many people feel a little lost when they visit their local nursery or garden centre to buy plants for landscaping. What cultivars should you choose for landscaping your particular lot? How do you establish if the cultivars you may want are hardy enough to survive here? You may turn for advice to the staff at the nursery or garden centre; but during the busy spring season they may not have enough time to help you find the plants you need to meet your particular landscaping requirements. Furthermore, your favourite nursery may not have the plant cultivar in stock you are looking for, and as a result you may end up planting your second choice.

Give yourself enough time to plan your home landscape carefully. The average landscaped house is worth 10-15% more than the bare house and lot. Your landscaping may represent a value of 5,000 to 20,000 dollars! It is therefore very important to find out as much as you can about landscaping and plant materials.

Some Points to Consider

1. Buy from local suppliers who guarantee their plant material. Be sure to ask about the terms of the guarantee. Most suppliers guarantee their plants for the first growing season, but some may guarantee that the plants will survive for a full year. Most suppliers will reimburse you for only half the cost of the plant materials, but some may repay you in full. Do not expect to be reimbursed should your plant die from neglect.

2. Buy hardy material that is adapted to your area. A good way to plan your yard is to visit an attractive neighbourhood. Make a note of the names of the plants you like. If you cannot identify a plant, ask the home owner. Most people are happy to talk about their favorite tree or shrub.

3. Note how people use particular shrubs and trees on their property. If you like the plan, you might adopt it.

4. Note also how far trees or shrubs are planted from each other, and from the house or fence. Often young plants are planted too close for proper development. Find out how large a plant will be when it is fully grown. Do not plant big trees on a city lot. Most poplars, maples, elms, willows, spruce and pine are too large to be used on a 15 m (50 ft) lot.

It is often tempting to buy a low-price tree like a poplar. You may discover that you must spend 80 to 100 dollars annually to prune your once-prized poplar. Often such a tree will become so large that it may endanger the house, and then you will have the costs of tree removal or house repairs from falling branches.

5. A number of evergreen shrubs do not do well on the south and west sides of a house. The sun in late winter can cause drying that can seriously injure such shrubs. Usually the junipers can tolerate more winter drying than the cedars and will be your best choice.

6. When selecting plants, do not be overly concerned with the flowers they may provide. Flowers often last for only 1 or 2 days. They are less important than:

a) Foliage texture (feathery, shiny, fuzzy) and colour (yellow silver blue).

b) Fruit that stays on the plant for several months and also feeds the birds.

c) Fall leaf colour that may last for 2 weeks.

d) Stem and bark colour that adds to the winter landscape.

7. Many fruit trees and shrubs can provide attractive flowers and colours for your home landscape as well as a good supply of edible fruit for the table. I would advise you to consider fruit trees for their ornamental value in landscaping. They can produce fruit for a pie but they can also beautify your surroundings.

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