Plant selection in a garden design
You have already made a outline of your garden. You have established location of alleys and key composition components. Now it is the time for plant selection.
Plant selection is the most difficult part. Horticultural knowledge is not enough – you also need a bit of artistic sense and taste.
Diversity of the currently available garden species and varieties is huge. How to select proper plants for your garden and how to arrange them together?
Let’s start the design from creating a composition. Do not plan any specific species yet but approach the subject in a holistic manner.
The first step is to select places in your garden that require special attention because of their exposure. Typically this is the view from the terrace and surroundings of arbour or other relaxation place. Think also about how will the garden look like from the street.
When starting a design it is worth to remember a few basic rules:
Plants should complement one another. A beautiful effect is gained by putting plants together - not by exposing each plant separately. The plants should be selected according to the rule of contrast of heights, types, colours, and leaves’ texture (combination of shining and mat leaves).
Make sure that there is a place in your garden for both conifer and deciduous trees. Thanks to that your garden will be attractive all year long.
When creating composition do not think about specific plants yet. Treat designing as playing with colours and shapes keeping in mind that you can alter them anytime. Reduce plant types to basic shapes.
If you are a busy person do not plan many perennial flowerbeds. You must realize that every garden requires maintenance regardless of the number of conifer or leafy plants. However, you can simplify this gardening considerably.
One of the basic gardening activities is mowing. When planning your garden you should make sure that a space between particular components of your composition is enough for mower to work. What is more, you do not design flowerbeds of irregular shapes – this way, you minimize necessity of using a trimmer.
Fighting weeds is also important. Use groundlings as a supplement of your composition which in time, form a firm carpet that makes weeds’ growth difficult.
Groundlings are also ideal for planting slopes and other places in a garden difficult to mow.
The most common covering species:
common juniper ‘Green Carpet’, ‘Depressa Aurea’, creeping juniper and its varieties, microbiota, berberis thunbergii ‘Atropurpurea Nana’, cotoneaster dammeri ‘Coral Beauty’, cotoneaster horizontalis, mountain avens, Fortune spindle and its varieties, checkerberry, Japanese spurge, and lesser periwinkle.
Good tipAn alternative for a lawn is a wildflower meadow, because it needs to be mown only once, twice a year. The wildflower meadow is a perfect solution for big gardens; especially, where cultivation conditions are harsh.
Using your common sense when selecting plants is the most significant rule.
Currently you can buy plants via the Internet. Beautiful colours, huge flowers, rare types – all this is used by sellers to encourage us to buy; still, they rarely mention the requirements. Do not be deluded that from several seeds you can grow an exotic tree; do not be deceived by the processed photos of specimens that are supposedly subjects of sale.
The best method of verifying plants’ look is visiting a nursery of ornamental plants in spring, in summer and in early autumn. This is the only way to see a condition of particular plants in different stages of vegetation. Choosing plants from the nursery is also your guarantee that they are adapted to your climate.
A selection of the particular species is the final stage of your project.
Conditions of your garden must correspond with requirements of species that you have selected. Obviously, you can modify them slightly.
During planning you should pay special attention to plant dimensions.
In small backyard gardens there is no place for large plants. Despite the fact that they usually grow slowly, you should definitely give up planting park and alley trees which would cause troubles not only to you but also to your neighbours. What is more, do not plant high trees near a building – they can shade an apartment. Also avoid too expansive plants, which could take over your garden when they are left uncontrolled. This kind of plants are for example: staghorn sumac, false acacia, tree of heaven, black alder.
Near the ground do not use species of strong root system (that is, among others: common sea-buckthorn, Russian-olive, caragana, common aspen and white poplar).