Choosing Plants

Now that we have created the perfect bed for our plants, we can choose what to put in it. Try to create a plan that is good for year-round beauty.

Using a background of evergreens in a cold winter environment will keep the garden interesting looking even on the coldest of winter days. I try to choose plants that I can use in holiday decorating. Some of my favorites are holly, boxwood, juniper, euonymus and rhododendron.

Example of foundation evergreens

These are easily shaped, and provide a nice backdrop. In front of these you can layer in shorter bushes or, depending on your desires, perennials and ground cover.

Emphasize entrances, walkways, and corners with taller plants. This draws your attention, and creates a focal point. It is important when planting to not plant too closely to the house. If you plant so that you keep a foot between the house and bushes, your house will be much easier to maintain, and bushes will stay much healthier. When planted too close they can become one sided with all the foliage facing out, while bare on the back. I also would encourage shorter plants under windows, for safety as well as preserving your views.

Repeat your plant material throughout your yard to keep a flow. I would also encourage planting in multiples if your yard is large. By doing this it won’t look cluttered or hodgepodge. I like to plant in drifts, or waves, with each drift comprised of the same plant, overlapping the corners of the drifts. This carries your eye through the garden and draws you in.

Example of merging drifts and layering heights


When planting in drifts, try to follow the lay of the land. You can accentuate changes in terrain, creating lots of visual impact. Using plants with varying textures will really highlight the various drifts.

Lastly, using ground cover to fill in as a border, or as erosion control on a hillside, can really complete the garden. With so many choices out there, have fun!

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