Right Plant, Right Place: The Cardinal Rule of Planting Design

If you've been following this blog regularly, there's a good chance you've heard me talk about the importance of picking the right plant for the right place at least a few times. It's vitally important. In fact, I'd probably consider it the single most important rule for all landscaping. Following the "right plant, right place" rule ensures that you enjoy your garden for years to come with fewer problems and expenses that you would face if you just found a plant you liked and put it where you have room in your yard. Here is a list of ways following the cardinal rule will save you grief.

Fewer Pest and Disease Problems

Placing a plant in a setting with the wrong soil, light, or other environmental conditions places the plant under stress. Plants have defenses like our immune system, but as with us humans, those defenses don't work as well when the plant is under stress which leaves it vulnerable to pests and diseases.

Fewer Infrastructure Conflicts

If you put a plant where it doesn't belong, you can run into problems with your structures. A tree that is planted too close to your house needs to be pruned consistently to keep it from scratching at the windows or damaging the gutters, or its roots can interfere with a driveway or foundation. A vigorous vine that is grown on a structure that isn't strong enough can weaken or even tear it down. The most common example I can think of is trees being drastically pruned to keep away from power lines.

Reduce Maintenance Time and Money

The wrong plant in the wrong place costs you more time and money while it's alive. A plant in the wrong growing conditions may need pruning, changes to the environment, or chemical treatments to survive. A plant too close to the wrong structure will need pruning to keep it in check, and it will cost you if you don't.

Save Money on Replacements

Sometimes all the maintenance in the world isn't going to save a poorly placed plant. Stressed and overgrown plants are going to need to be replaced sooner than a properly selected and placed plant, which is going to cost more in the long run.

Save Money on Heating and Cooling Costs

The reasons we've gone through so far keep you from spending more money. The right plant in the right place can actually help save on money you're already spending too! Placing evergreens to shelter your house from winter winds reduces heating costs. You can plant a deciduous tree in front of a large south-facing window to keep down cooling costs in the summer, and when it drops its leaves in the fall the sunlight can come in to help with heating in the winter.

Properly selected and placed plants will save you time, money and stress. There are many books and websites to help you pick the best species to keep your garden in excellent shape year-round. And as always, for help with picking the best plants for your garden, don't hesitate to ask a landscaping or nursery professional!

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