How to Choose a Plant Palette for Your Yard
By Dan Eginton, professional landscape architect, president, Scenic Environments
Trying to find the perfect plant palette for your yard? With so many varieties and colors available, you may feel overwhelmed. Understanding your site constraints is the best way to start the planting process. Then you can move on to aesthetics.
If you have a small space, pick plants like Soft Touch Holly or Shishigashira Camellia because they won't outgrow the site in a few years. Is the area sunny or shady? If you get lots of sunlight throughout the day, consider planting a Crape Myrtle, a Dwarf Nandina or a Dwarf Loropetalum. Some good options for shady areas are Japanese spreading Yews, Fatsia, Azaleas, and Pieris.
You also will want to take into consideration drainage and erosion. If you have drainage issues, investigate plants that can have "wet feet." for brief periods of time. Plants with shallow root systems can adhere to the soil better, providing a better choice when erosion is a problem.
Are there local or home owner association regulations that dictate how close you can plant something to your property line? How high do you want your plant material to grow? Also look at the existing plants you have. Often people try to plant something beneath an old tree, disturbing its roots and potentially killing the plant. Next, move on to what you plan to do in the space. Do you need to screen something? Do you want a courtyard, a space for entertaining or an edible garden? Do you want to spend lots of time working in your yard? Ninety percent of my customers want low maintenance yards. Think about any focal points you might want to see from a living or dining room window. A pretty Japanese Maple or a row of dogwoods might work in this situation. Color, texture and fragrance also are important. At what time of year do you want the color to be most attractive? If you like fall colors, choose something like a Red Maple. Tea Olives, Winter Daphne and gardenias are some fragrant options. If you have kids running around the yard, choose plants that are durable. You can walk on certain types of hollies and ground covers without damaging them. If you're in an entertaining area, you can buy things that might be less durable, but more attractive. A camellia is a good example. Get more expert advice from Atlanta home improvement professionals.