Right Plant, Right Place

Good landscape design hinges on one basic concept—the right plant in the right place. Careful planning and site evaluation are the first steps in applying this concept.

South Carolina is a diverse state, which includes several climatic zones. Soil types, temperature ranges and rainfall patterns differ dramatically from region to region. It's important to remember that a plant that thrives in a friend's yard on the coast may freeze in your yard just a few miles inland. Different conditions often exist in the same yard. The front yard may be high and dry, while the backyard may be poorly drained and soggy.

Although there is no such thing as a maintenance-free yard, it is possible to have an easy to care for, attractive yard.

Carolina Yards Spotlight: Groundcovers

When creating a water-wise landscape it is important to note that turfgrasses require more frequent watering and maintenance than most other landscape plants. Consider replacing unused turf areas with a groundcover.  The green and gold (Chrysogonum virginianum) pictured below is an excellent choice as a low-growing groundcover in the front of a naturalized area or woodland landscape.

green and gold plant

Right Plant, Right Place Action Checklist:

  1. Determine how much open lawn area is ideal for children, pets, and recreation. Where possible, use low-maintenance groundcovers, shrubs, mulch, or other porous surfaces that allow water to infiltrate.
  2. Design and maintain a yard that thrives predominantly on rainfall once plants are established.
  3. Reduce the need for water, fertilizer, and pesticides by choosing plants suited to the site conditions in your yard.
  4. Group plants according to their maintenance needs.
  5. Reduce yard waste by choosing plants that will not require frequent pruning when they reach maturity.
  6. Decrease soil erosion by planting groundcovers where lawn will not grow well, such as under trees or on steep slopes.
  7. Save energy by using trees and shrubs to shade the eastern and western walls of your home.
  8. Use deciduous trees or shrubs on southern exposures to allow sun to passively heat your home in winter.
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Did you know?

Many of the maintenance needs of a garden are determined by the design. It can be difficult to provide proper water and light to all plants if those with dissimilar needs are mixed together. Plan to group plants with similar care needs. Selecting the right plants can reduce your maintenance chores, such as pruning, fertilizing, and watering. This can save you money, too!

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Examine the features of the property such as native plants, natural drainage patterns and natural features. Consider which natural features to incorporate into your design and which feature will limit you design. Some factors to consider are plant temperature tolerance, flooding or saturated soils, shade, dry areas, possible salt spray.

Additional Resources:

HGIC 1723: Creating an Environmentally Responsible Landscape

HGIC 1724: Conserving Water in Your Landscape

EC 672: Xeriscape

HGIC 1722: Balancing Nature Within Your Landscape

HGIC 1050: Choosing a Planting Location

HGIC 1703: Low-Maintenance Landscape ideas

HGIC 1001: Planting Trees Correctly

HGIC 1055: Transplanting Established Trees & Shrubs

HGIC 1861: An Introduction to Porous Pavement