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Step 5: Placing Plants: Where and Why?

Placing Trees:

  • Trees are the most dominant plant in the garden

  • Trees grow and deliver shade, which makes growing many plants beneath trees difficult…plan for garden changes as trees bring shade

  • Trees have deep roots and need infrequent, deep watering. Don’t place trees in turf that wants water on a regular basis.

  • Keep trees away from the house foundation, sidewalks, walls and hardscape in general. Why? Tree roots are famous for lifting and cracking hardscapes and clogging sewer lines. Choose tree locations first and with care.

Placing Turf Grass:

  • Plant turf where it will be used for playing. Otherwise, turf is better to do without because it takes weekly labor time and is the highest water using plant in our climate.

  • Avoid placing turf under trees. Why? Trees want less water. Tree roots will come to the surface when planted in turf (raising the risk of blowing down in high winds), and trees shade turf when most turf wants full sun.

  • Use turf in the back yard where it is most likely to be used for recreation.

  • If you have existing turf areas and don’t use it for recreation, consider native and other low water use, lower maintenance plants.

Placing Shrubs (native plants, roses, flowering plants, hedges, perennials, annuals): General Rules…

  • Place the plant(s) in the proper “exposure” (sun, shade, filtered sun)

  • Place the plant(s) in similar water use groupings (low/drought, medium and high)

  • Place plants in areas that are large enough for their full growth habits

  • Place plants with compatible flower colors

  • Place plants in locations where they won’t need to be pruned to “fit” or be kept from obstructing views

  • Read text accompanying plant images in this CD and other sources (see Resource section) for the height and spread of the plant, colors, preferred sun exposures and soil types, etc.

  • Place plants so they can grow naturally (without pruning to keep them in a certain space so they don’t grow into each other)

  • Place plants in groupings of the same plants (mass plantings of the same plant) for dramatic affect

  • Place flowering plants, such as bougainvillea, etc. in the full sun (to promote flowering)

  • Place native plants in dry or low water use areas or where there is no irrigation system (though it will take some water for the first yearfor them to establish their root systems)

  • Place native plants on separate irrigation system zones (valves or stations) so they are not over-watered, which is the primary reason native plants die

  • Place annuals in areas of higher water application

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