How do you decide what to plant in beds? There are a lot of factors to account for when choosing vegetation for beds near and around your house and characteristics may differ depending on the bed;
- is it in full or partial sun or shade?
- which direction does it face?
- is it on the top of a hill? low-lying? flat?
- are there trees growing nearby?
- do you have outdoor pets?
- is it accessible to irrigation?
- do you want something that will be green all year round? produce showy flowers? inhibit window access? discourage wildlife?
- how much space is available? do want dense plantings or space for other decorations?
Once you have narrowed down some of these options, with help from your arborist, you can visit your local nursery armed with information to choose plants which will flourish in the space available and add value to your property.
Annual vs. Perennial
Annual plants complete their life cycle within one growing season, in other words, you plant seeds, it sprouts, produces leaves and flowers and dies, in one year. You will have to replant annuals each year, but their extended (usually from spring through to fall frost), showy blooms are unparalleled. Perennial plants will self seed and re-grow for three or more years, while they may have a shorter bloom period planting a variety can ensure color in your beds all season long. Having trouble deciding? No need to choose! You can plant annuals and perennials together for endless color choices and bloom varieties!
Evergreen vs. Deciduous
This is a pretty straightforward option, evergreen plants hold their leaves (which stay green) all year-long, while deciduous plants drop their leaves in the fall. There are needled evergreen plants, like yews or broadleaf evergreen shrubs like rhododendrons. Rhododendrons and azaleas can be the best of both worlds, as they keep their leaves (there are deciduous azalea varieties, so make sure to confirm before purchase) but also display gorgeous, showy blooms in the spring. There is more variety in bloom colors, shapes and sizes of deciduous plants, but they will not be much to look at during the winter…but if you live in the great white north, everything is covered in snow anyway! Again, there is no need to decide, plant some of each for diversity and seasonal interest throughout the year.
Bulbs are a great investment providing a large amount of bloom for your buck, these hardy, spring blooming flowers are best planted in the fall right up until the ground freezes. Adequate soil drainage is key for these flowers, and they will thrive in neutral soil pH; 6-7. Discuss with your arborist how to adjust your soil pH, if needs be, and possible fertilization in beds that are replanted every season. Make sure to consider the sun requirements and shade tolerances for bulb varieties, most bulb plants will bloom before tree leaf out in the spring so they can successfully be planted underneath trees. Also, bulbs planted facing south will bloom before those facing north and ones on hillsides will flower before those in valleys. Plant your bulbs at least 6 to 8 inches deep and make sure to water upon planting, roots need to develop prior to the winter freeze.
Consult with your arborist regarding any questions you may have including, but not limited to, site selection, plant requirements and tolerances, watering requirements, best times for planting, fertilization and anything else that comes to mind. Happy planting!