Choosing the Right Plant for the Right Place

Learn why fall is one of the best times to plant trees, shrubs and perennials. See beautiful plant combinations and get inspired.

The right plants for your site will grow deeper roots, have fewer pest problems, and need less water and work to look beautiful all year. Follow these steps:

  1. Get to know your yard
    Make a map of your yard, observing where you have sun or shade, rocky, sandy or clay soil, poorly drained wet areas or dry spots under eaves or evergreen trees, windy areas, or areas that are sloped or otherwise hard to reach.
  2. Dream a garden
    Think about how you want to use your yard: for play areas, views or privacy, vegetable or flower beds, wildlife habitat, work areas, pathways, etc.
  3. Create a plan to fit your site
    Group those uses on your site map, fitting them to your yard’s conditions, and then select plants from these lists to fit each use:
    • Choose “drought tolerant” plants that will thrive without irrigation after they are well established (first 1-3 years).
    • Select pest and disease-resistant varieties.
    • Use a diversity of plants, for year ‘round beauty and easy care.
    • Choose varieties that will fit your space when full-grown, to avoid pruning work.
    • Why not go native? Native plants support wildlife, and thrive when they’re planted in the right conditions.
    • Plant practical lawns. Lawns need moderate to full sun and well-drained fertile soil, and they take more work to maintain – so only plant lawn where you need it for play or view.
    • Create low maintenance areas along fences, on slopes or other hard-to-access sites with quick-growing ground covers, shrubs and trees that can grow to full size without needing pruning.
    • Group plants by their water needs. Fit your watering system to those zones, whether by hand watering, soaker hose, sprinkler, or automatic irrigation system zones that match the plants.

More Information

Choosing the Right Plants guide (pdf)
Right Plant Right Place (pdf)
The Plant List (pdf)
How to Water New Plants (pdf)

Questions? Call the Garden Hotline at (206) 633-0224 or email help@gardenhotline.org