DALY: Select plants that tolerate the site's conditions

As homeowners, we want plants that will thrive in our landscapes. What can you do to ensure the plants in your yard will be healthy and attractive? One of the most important considerations is making sure they are able to tolerate the conditions where they are to be planted. Keeping this in mind will lessen the majority of problems you will encounter.

Sunlight requirements vary among plants. Junipers thrive in full sun. If planted in shady locations, they will begin to decline. On the other hand azaleas, dogwoods and aucubas prefer shadier sites. If planted in the full sun, the leaves will begin to turn yellow, the plants may suffer from heat related problems, such as leaf scorch and branch dieback, and they are more susceptible to insects.

Take drainage into account. If the soil stays waterlogged, it will need to be modified by adding organic soil amendments, re-grading the site, or installing raised beds. Another option is using plants, such as river birch, swamp hibiscus, and yaupon hollies that are better adapted to wet areas.

When selecting plants consider how large they will be in five to ten years. The plant material should fill the space where they are to be planted and not outgrow it.

Select trees that produce minimal litter. Certain trees, such as magnolias and river birches have a tendency to continuously drop their leaves. Make sure they are planted in an area where the leaf litter will not create a problem, such as over a sundeck or by a swimming pool.

Some plants can spread extensively and can be invasive, such as English ivy. If you plant English ivy, be prepared to continually cut it back or it will take over everything. This is also true with some other invasive plant material, such as the groundcovers vinca and the chameleon plant.

One other important factor to consider, does the plant has excessive pest problems? Certain types of euonymus are troubled by scale insects and powdery mildew. Red tip photinias are afflicted with a leaf spot disease. Cotoneasters are plagued with lacebugs. Over time these plants will decline and eventually perish unless they are treated on a continual basis with pesticides.

In choosing landscape plants for your yard, take these factors into consideration to avoid problems. A healthy, attractive landscape with plants adapted to their environments will require minimal maintenance and be less problematic.

Timothy Daly can be contacted by phone at 678-377-4010 or by email at timothy.daly@gwinnettcounty.com.