In our eBook, "A Rookie's Guide to Designing Beds and Borders", we discuss the major design roles of the plants in our landscapes. This would include their impacts as a unit of mass, color found in their flowers, foliage or fruit, their horizontal or vertical form, their texture and the formal or informal nature of their lines.

In addition to these design criteria, there are several additional characteristics that should be considered during the plant selection process including: (Of course, we could just forget all the fuss and use plastic plants like the gas station did in this way!)

  • Plant Hardiness - Make sure of your long-term success by using only plants that are bound to survive your local climate conditions.

  • Light Requirement - Plants produce their own food through the process of photosynthesis. Each plant has a minimum level of light needed to grow and flower properly.

  • Plant Height - One of the basic design considerations is to be sure that plants may be seen from the predominate viewing points. Plant height, of course, plays a key role in assuring that they show their best in your beds and borders.

  • Bloom Season - For most of us, we want an entire season of bloom in our gardens. Select plants that will give you color from early spring into the fall.

  • Multi-Season Interest - Many plants, especially perennials, have a limited timeframe in which they bloom. So, if you can select plants with interesting bark, foliage or other features, you can expand the enjoyment of your garden.

  • Longevity - Even though many of the plants we grow are "perennial" there can be a great range of actual life spans among plants. So, one of the factors you need to consider is the expected life of your plants so you can plan for replacements.

  • Invasiveness - To minimize your maintenance requirements, you will generally want to avoid plants that do not stay in their place. Plants that wander around the garden may be a constant challenge.

  • Fragrance - It is always an added bonus to experience the wonderful fragrance of many species of flowers as you wander through your garden.


Note: We have provided some general information and observations on this topic aimed at the home gardener. Before you take any serious action in your landscape, check with your state's land grant university's Cooperative Extension Service for the most current, appropriate, localized recommendations.

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