Written by Home Guides and published on https://homeguides.sfgate.com/.
Designing your landscape can seem a bit intimidating. However, if you break it down into small steps and keep a few things in mind, it isn’t hard. Consider these easy-to-grow shrubs, trees, and perennials to create a worry-free foundation in your landscape. For each, we’ve included planting, watering, fertilizing, and pruning tips for every gardening zone.
Types of Landscape Plants
The options for landscaping plants are so vast that it can be challenging simply to come up with a color scheme that will satisfy your individual taste. Before you delve into the exciting world of garden design, understanding the basics is essential. Become familiar with the types of landscape plants so you can more easily identify what you do and do not like while making appropriate choices for your yard and different areas of your gardens.
Trees are the tallest of the landscape plants, aside from vines that can grow to great heights with the assistance of a supportive structure. These plants typically surpass a height of 15 feet. Trees draw the eye up and may provide the landscape with shade and ornamental value. Evergreen trees keep their foliage all year, with only mild natural shedding. Deciduous trees drop their leaves during the colder months and regrow them when the dormant season ends. Trees take on a variety of habits, such as round, pyramidal, columnar, oval, vase-shaped and weeping, which explains the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension. Types of trees function as fruit crop producers, flower producers, accents, privacy fences or natural windbreaks.
Shrubs are often referred to as small trees and are known to display multiple stems and height below 15 feet. Shrubs take on particular habits, including upright, spreading, rounded, mounding, arching and cascading, explains the University of Florida IFAS Extension. Gardeners often use dense, mounding shrubs in mass plantings in the garden. Shrubs with dense foliage are well-suited for use as sculptural accents or formal hedges that are pruned into tidy shapes. Shrubs with open habits or less rigid effects, such as a cascading appearance, are used en masse or as individual accents.
Gardeners prize colorful annual plants for their ornamental beauty. They grow and die to the ground without reblooming the following season. As the name suggests, these plants must be replanted each year. Annuals include flowering plants such as marigolds, sunflowers, petunias, and poppies. Some annuals, such as hostas, are used for their visually interesting foliage with limited or no flower development. Annuals represent nearly every color and grow in hundreds of species, providing gardeners with a wide array of choices. Annuals work well in containers and as bedding plants. Depending on the particular plant, versatile annuals may be used as specimen plants, for a large area of color, mixed with foliage or as border plants.
Homeowners plant perennials based on their ability to rebloom for many seasons. Perennials are considered lower maintenance when compared with annuals. These plants include varieties with colorful blossoms such as California fuchsias, lavender, and salvia. Because gardeners know these plants will remain in the garden for many years, perennials are often used in low-maintenance gardens. In addition, different perennial species tolerate a wide variety of conditions. Gardeners may choose easily among those for hot weather, wet sites or shaded conditions as needed.
When someone says “grass,” most people think of green turf grass. This is the grass homeowners mow regularly on their lawns and backyards. Turfgrass calls for a great amount of care, including proper irrigation, fertilization, mowing and dethatching. Ornamental grasses, however, provide a graceful, delicate appearance in the garden. This type of grass typically adapts to even poor conditions, grows in a variety of colors and may reach several feet in height. Ornamental grasses often grow in clumps and are used to add height and texture behind shorter plants, such as annual flowers, or to provide extended, soft interest when grown in mass plantings.
Ground covers provide dense, low-profile, carpet-like coverage in the landscape. Gardeners place ground cover plants beneath trees and in beds to create a widespread, low-maintenance blanket over large landscape spaces. However, most ground cover is less resilient than grass and often suffers as a result of foot traffic. These plants also serve well in borders and for added texture with their variety of foliage shapes, sizes, and colors. Ground cover such as lamb’s ears provides a soft, silver-green appearance, while juniper species ground covers offer needled foliage.
Vines twine and climb, growing in long strands along the ground or gripping onto supporting structures where they can reach great heights. Easily recognized vines include grapevines and clematis. Gardeners often utilize vines in the landscape to add interest to the sides of homes, on trellises or archways for a softening, natural effect.
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