MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Features

January 6, 2010

Pick the perennial plants

Landscape designers recommend that you begin any outdoor improvement project by looking at pictures to identify the highlights of your dream garden.

You can tear out magazine pages and make a collage that will become the basis of your plan.

The skeleton of the garden can be installed first. These features include storage, irrigation, trees, shrubs, sidewalk, outdoor dining patio or deck. Other specifics to consider are playground area, raised beds or brick planters, or a sunny, fenced place for vegetables and herbs, and a compost bin.

Good landscaping adds 10 to 15 percent to the resale value of your home, so the enjoyment you receive while using the additional outdoor living space, means getting paid twice for your efforts.

When shopping for suitable plants, pay attention to size at maturity, sunlight needs, water requirements, and durability in your microclimates.

For example, heat accumulates on the west side of a building or fence in the summer, making it less suitable for plants such as hydrangea shrubs or Japanese maple trees. Other examples of microclimate include a part of the garden protected by evergreen shrubs or places where rain naturally flows after a storm.

Each year, members of the Perennial Plant Association nominate the best perennials based on four criteria: Suitable for a wide range of climate conditions, low maintenance, easily grown from seed or cuttings, and, good appearance over the seasons. Perennials are plants live for more than one year. All of these grow in zones five to eight or nine.

In 2009, the Plant of the Year was an ornamental grass, Hakonechloa macra Aureola, or Golden Hakone Grass. It grows well in full sun in cooler climates but needs the afternoon shade provided by trees in hot summer areas. Since it prefers to be kept moist but not soggy, plant it in beds that are easy to irrigate but that drain well.

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