Why did you plant your trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, and even turfgrass where you did? Were you following a design? Did you just think it would look nice in that spot? Or, did you select that plant and that location for some other reason?
I hope that, after reading this, you will have a purpose for every new plant that you plant, and I hope that makes gardening even more fun. Planting with a purpose can certainly cut down on maintenance.
When you plant with a purpose, one of the ways you cut down on maintenance is to reduce the number of mistakes you make. How many of you have large shade trees too close to your electric service lines, only to realize that keeping trees pruned away from these lines is your responsibility? Or have you planted acid loving plants like azaleas and rhododendrons in alkaline soil?
Planning your landscape and the purpose of every plant, or grouping of plants, before committing them to the ground will result in a beautiful landscape that you can sit and enjoy, rather than spending all your free time maintaining.
Other common mistakes include planting sun loving plants in shady spots or a thirsty plants in a dry location. You also need to be careful of underground utilities so you don’t plant a thirsty plant where it can satisfy its water needs by breaking into underground sewer pipes. Speaking of underground utilities, be careful not to damage them when digging. Be sure to have them flagged before digging.
If you are planting to assist with your home’s comfort, plant deciduous trees to the south and east of your house. When leafed out in spring and summer, they will help keep the house cool. When defoliated in fall and winter, they will let more sun reach the house and help heat it. Plant evergreens to the north and west so they can help buffer the house against winter winds.
You also have to be careful that you don’t plant invasive plants or those that attract wildlife that you don’t want to attract.
Your plant selection will also influence pest populations. Happy plants that are healthy and strong tend to resist insects and diseases. Instead, pests will migrate toward less healthy trees and those in decline. This all boils down to the horticultural mantra, “Right Plant, Right Place.”