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How to find the right spot for the right plant

It's planting season and you've heard, often, about placing the right plant in the right spot. What does it mean to put the right plant in the right spot? The statement is obvious but its definition has several components.

The right spot includes prepared soil. Prepare soil by tilling in a 2-inch layer of granite grit, going about 8 inches deep. Exceptions occur on hillsides, under large trees and swamps.

Plants need their proper sunlight requirements. Plant tags are misleading and plants can't read. Full sun is 6 hours of any light. Part sun is 4 hours of afternoon sun. Part shade is 4 hours of morning light. Filtered light comes through mature pines. Dense shade is produced by mature hardwood trees.

Choose the correct mature height. Windows 3 feet from the ground should have shrubs growing 3 feet tall, maximum. Too often shrubs growing 10 feet tall are placed in front of low windows and need regular pruning. Plants look best growing into their natural shape. Pruning is a high maintenance option.

Landscaping economically includes using plants taking up a lot of space. Shrubs and groundcovers are superior financially to most perennials. They take up more space, require significantly less maintenance and are aesthetic all year. Many perennials are herbaceous, disappearing for a season.

Place plant groupings according to foliage size. Keep plants in their groups, called drifts, with groupings of big leaves next to groupings of small leaves. Foliage is called texture. In addition to texture contrast foliage colors. Green leaves next to burgundy leaves next to variegated leaves.

Use welcoming plants near doorways, foliage with spines need not apply. Eyesores in the landscape should have evergreens, not deciduous plants, for screening.

Flower colors should be chosen to accentuate each other and your home. Red flowers next to a red brick house won't be showy. White, yellow or pink flowers will pop next to red brick.

Plants have various forms: round, arching, weeping, vertical, horizontal, pyramidal and wispy. While contrasting leaf size and color also contrast plant forms.

If a portion of your home is too sunny and hot in summer place a small deciduous tree for shading in summer and sunlight in winter. Does a wall of your home receive the brunt of winter's wind? Plant a hedge of evergreens to block the wind. You'll save money every month on utilities.

Putting the right plant in the right spot is a potent landscape design tool. Your landscape will be prettier, require less maintenance and increase your home's value.

Hopefully your brain will find it delicious to put plants together effectively. I've been doing it for more than 20 years and haven't been bored yet.

Stone Mountain resident Tara Dillard designs, installs and writes about gardens. Her most recent books include "Garden Paths and Stepping Stones" and "Perennials for Georgia." E-mail her at taradillard@agardenview.biz or visit www.agardenview.biz.