The right plant in the right place; that’s the key to creating a beautiful garden that will flourish with minimal care. Think of your yard as a picture puzzle of interlocking ecosystems. Each piece of your yard is a small ecosystem all its own, providing a different mini-environment for growing plants.
Pay attention to your yard for the next week or two. You’ll notice that some areas receive bright sunshine for most of the day while others spend the day cast in shadow. Certain sections of your yard will receive the bright heat of the morning sun; others, the cooler rays of the dimming afternoon sun. Slopes and swales in your landscape or raised garden beds may create areas where the soil drains quickly. In other parts of your yard, rain water may collect in lingering puddles, providing a very wet environment for growing plants. Well-worked garden beds may be filled with rich, dark, luxuriant soil where plants will grow easily, whereas plantings along a backyard fence line may struggle to survive in hard-packed clay.
No garden is one size fits all. When you’re shopping for plants at your local garden center, you can’t simply fill your shopping cart with pretty plants and plunk them into garden beds indiscriminately; at least, not if you want them to thrive. If you want your garden to flourish, you need to consider the quality of light, amount of drainage and type of soil that will be available in each particular garden bed and select plants that will thrive under those conditions.
Using your observations, draw a diagram dividing your yard into eco-zones based on the light, water and soil conditions. When shopping for plants at your local garden center, if you match the information on the plant tags to a specific garden environment, you can be assured that you are choosing the right plant for the right place in your garden.