Sun, soil & more
We would like to help you choose the best plants for your landscape and situation. The right plant in the right place will save you a lot of time (that you won’t spend analyzing and treating disease and pest problems) and money (that you won’t spend on pesticides, fungicides and possibly replacing plants). A plant getting too much sun or shade or in soil that does not meet its needs will become stressed and susceptible to pests and disease. The more you know about the sun exposure and soil conditions in your yard, the better we’ll be able to help you choose the best plants for it.
But doesn’t the sun exposure change with the seasons? Yes it does, and you have to take that into consideration. It’s important to know where you get full sun in the winter if you’re planning a winter vegetable garden or choosing a spot for some winter annuals. Otherwise, for most plants it will be more important for you to know where the sun is in the spring, summer and fall. There’s more to consider also. As your landscape matures and trees grow, you may have less and less sun as the years go by. On the other hand, if you limb up some trees or remove any, you’ll suddenly have more.
By now you can see this is not something you consider just once. As you spend time gardening and maintaining your landscape over the years, you’ll learn to make adjustments as the seasons change and years roll on.
Some plants grow best in sandy soil, while others will require loam; and some are tolerant of a wide range of soils. The best way to know what kind of soil you’ve got is to take a shovel and actually dig up and study the soil in different locations of your yard. Be aware that your soil can change drastically from one spot to another only a few feet away. Mary reports that she has some pretty decent clay-loam that required only a little mushroom compost to improve it just five feet from a large patch of pipe clay which had to be dug out and replaced. Use your eyes, hands and nose to study your soil. What color is it? Does it sift through your fingers like sand, crumble nicely or could you almost make pottery with it (pipe clay)? Is it rich and dark, and does it smell like there’s a lot of organic material present? Clay loam will function well for many plants or need only the application of some organic matter for others; however, there are a limited number of plants that will survive in hard-packed clay. In the Tallahassee area, either may appear red in color. You’ll know which you’ve got by the amount of effort it takes to get a shovel in the ground.
You may need to amend your soil with compost, worm castings, greensand and/or other amendments. In some situations, you’d be better served to choose a plant that will tolerate the soil you’ve got; and sometimes a raised bed will be your best solution. Native Nurseries can help you make the best choice. You can help us to do so by studying your soil before you come in to choose a new plant.
Evergreen vs. Deciduous
An evergreen plant has leaves in all seasons. A deciduous plant loses all its leaves in the winter (or dry season in some climates). Some customers tell us they only want evergreen plants. Although we can help you to create a landscape that is entirely evergreen, you should be aware that this will severely limit your choices and rule out most of the best butterfly and hummingbird attractors.
How much time do you want to spend on your landscape? Do you like to putter around in the garden for hours most weekends? Or would you rather plant it and forget about it? Be aware that there is no such thing as a no maintenance landscape (unless you consider cementing over your yard), but we can help you to choose plants that will be low maintenance. As in choosing only evergreen (or any other parameter) this will limit your choices. But unless you can afford to hire someone else to maintain your yard, you’ll do yourself a favor by answering these two questions for yourself before you choose plants for your landscape. It is so easy to get carried away with enthusiasm for all the beautiful choices you have while at the nursery and later regret the time it takes to keep some of them at their peak. We’re going to ask you if low maintenance is important to you. Think about your answer carefully. It will help us to help you make the right choices for yourself and your landscape.