Plant Selection Guide: 10 Tips For Choosing the Right Plants for Your Landscape

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    Whether you have a small space, a large entryway, a grand patio and outdoor living area, or just an outdoor space that needs a bit of a makeover, plants can make a world of difference. They add pops of much-needed color, unique variations of texture, and amazing interest to your Kansas City home landscape.

    But there are so many plant options out there, which makes choosing the best plants for your space overwhelming. You certainly don’t want to install plants that don’t do well in your landscape or are the wrong fit for your property conditions or needs, such as privacy, aroma, or seasonal interest.

    Let’s talk about how to choose landscape plants for your Kansas City landscape and what characteristics you must watch out for to ensure planting success.

    How to Pick Plants for Landscaping in Kansas City  

    When you walk into a local nursery or garden center, you might think you can just pick any plants off the shelves that you fancy for your yard. But that’s not how it works.

    In fact, no one said choosing landscaping plants was easy, but we can certainly make it simpler for you.

    While there are a lot of great options out there, the biggest priority is matching your needs and space requirements to the plants that fit them best. This is the best way to ensure a healthy, long life for your plants.

    Here are some priorities to consider so you can pick the best plants every time.

    1. Consider Factors Like Sun Exposure, Soil Conditions, and Water Needs

    While you may love certain landscape plantings, you have to choose the plants that fit your location best in order to guarantee survival.

    How much sun exposure your plants receive can certainly help or hurt their future growth. These tips can help ensure you choose the right plant for the sun exposure your yard offers:

    • If your location gets 6 hours of direct sun, choose landscape plantings for full sun.

    • If your planting area gets 3 to 6 hours of direct sun, choose plants for partial sun/partial shade.

    • If your desired spot gets less than 3 hours of direct sun daily, choose landscaping plants for shade.

    In addition to sun exposure expectations, you have to look at soil and water conditions in your planting space when choosing landscaping plants. For instance, match plants that like wet feet or more moisture with areas on your site that tend to be wetter. If you have soil that dries out easily, choosing plants that can handle these conditions is smart. You also have to pay attention to the heavy clay soils in Kansas City, ensuring the plants you install fit the soil type.

    It’s extremely important to understand which plants do well in this region. Just because an online search says the plant can grow in your area doesn’t necessarily mean that it will.

    For instance, Kansas City has clay soils with high alkalinity. This is why many popular shrubs like hydrangea, azalea, and rhododendrons don’t do as well here as they do in other areas of the country. When using these types of shrubs, High Prairie Landscape experts often must adapt the soil and feed programs to overcome these challenges and ensure these plants thrive.

    2. Think About Your Garden Style and Design Preferences

    The plants you choose for your Kansas City landscape must fit your overall landscape design as well to ensure they fit your garden style.

    Thinking about how to choose landscape plants must include a look at your personal style. Do you have a formal landscape or more of a cottage garden? Is your landscape more modern or traditional?

    Evergreens and hedge plants can fit well in a more contemporary or formal space because they can have a more exact shape, consistent color, and even texture.

    For an English garden, on the other hand, a softer approach with flowering shrubs and perennials that complement each other can add that creative texture, color, and variety this specific garden style can accommodate.

    3. Consider Your Home Architecture When Choosing Landscape Plants

    Your home is also an important feature in your Kansas City landscape design.

    The design and architecture of your abode plays a big role in how to choose landscape plants. Why? Because choosing strict, formed shapes may not match a home that has a more country or flowing design and vice-versa. You want to remain consistent with the look your home sets on your property so everything looks like it belongs together.

    Complementing your home architecture is always a good choice in choosing plants for landscape design.

    4. Size is An Important Factor in Choosing Landscape Plants

    When you pick landscape plantings, the sizes in the nurseries and garden centers always look like they’ll fit your space just fine.

    But a big mistake made in choosing plants is not thinking about how this plant will work in the next 5 or 10 years or more. For instance, it would be a big mistake to choose a tree for a small space that is going to grow very large. That tree won’t have the room to grow, and you’ll have to transplant it later, which can be a costly and messy process once that tree grows to a certain size.

    Even if you’re seeking instant gratification, you can’t ignore a plant’s scale or size at maturity.

    5. Don’t Forget About Wind Exposure and Plant Choice

    Weather extremes like high winds can have a huge impact on certain types of plants. That’s why choosing landscape plants based on the wind exposure at your location is important.

    For instance, wind exposure can have a significant effect on evergreens, especially in weather extremes. The negative impacts include wind burn that can cause browning or dieback.

    When it comes to container plants, those exposed to more winds will dry out more easily. This means that plant durability is just as important as blooming. Tender annuals are best suited for protected areas to help minimize wind exposure.

    6. Promote Plant Diversity in Your Kansas City Landscape

    In choosing landscape plants, you must also consider plant diversity.

    Plant diversity is the concept of choosing a variety of plant species in your outdoor environment. This diversity in composition, structure, and function increases pollinators and weed and pest suppression, as well as prevents the mass loss of single tree species in an entire neighborhood due to new pests or diseases.

    This is especially important when choosing trees since tree cultivars aren’t innovated as much as shrub, perennial, and annual cultivars.

    7. The Impact of Animals on Plant Choice

    You can’t keep all critters out of your home landscape in Kansas City. And some critters love to eat certain plants more than others.

    For instance, perennials can be more easily damaged by bunnies and squirrels. There are ways to overcome this, but it starts with plant selection and choosing landscape plants they don’t love to munch.

    8. Consider Micro-climates when Choosing Landscape Plants

    You should also think about micro-climates when deciding on landscape plantings.

    A micro-climate is a local climate difference in a small area within the surrounding area that may present different growing conditions.

    This can especially impact ornamental grasses. While ornamental grasses can be fairly durable once established, they are more delicate until they are established. And grasses tend to be more sensitive to micro-climates, such as hot spots from being near stone, brick, or concrete.

    The grasses near the hot spots won’t always die, they’ll just take longer to fill in and reach the same height as the grasses that aren’t located near hot spots.

    The same issue can happen with irrigation coverage if it’s inadequate in some areas of your landscape versus others.

    9. Don’t Neglect Learning About Plant Innovations

    People seem to recommend the same plants over and over again.

    But how to pick plants for landscaping also means looking at new varieties and embracing opportunities to try new plant innovations that could be stronger additions to your yard than just the same old, same old.

    Plant innovations can bring a variety of positives to your space, including improved blooms, better durability, or new plant species all-together.

    10. Work With a Professional Landscape Designer Who Knows Kansas City Plants

    Kansas City has polarized weather extremes that make plant establishment and vitality more complicated.

    That’s why relying on plant information on the Internet can be a flawed approach to choosing landscape plants.

    You can overcome these challenges by working with a professional designer or garden center expert in Kansas City. This is why many people collaborate with a professional landscape designer. It is the job of the designer to know and understand all of the important plant factors when creating landscape designs.

    Get Excited About Choosing Landscape Plants in Kansas City   

    Bright blooms, wonderful texture, and matching the right plant to the right space can do so much for your Kansas City outdoor space.

    We hope these tips help when you’re trying to figure out how to choose landscape plants in Kansas City.

    Remember, even when you choose the right plants, proper planting followed by ideal watering practices can make the difference in the health and vitality of any planting palette. Planting trees too deep, for instance, can cause a plethora of health issues that can impact the life of the tree.

    Don’t be intimidated or nervous about picking the perfect plants or planting them successfully. Let High Prairie Landscape Group help. We can bring our years of experience working with great performing landscaping plants in Kansas City so you can have a special space that looks amazing all year long.

    Ready to see how High Prairie can transform your Kansas City home landscape with some amazing plants? We’d love to share our design and installation expertise with you. Get started today with a free consultation. Together, we can suggest some plants that you will love and your neighbors will envy.

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    About The Author

    Robyn is a 2009 Graduate of the Kansas State University Department of Horticulture. She grew up in South East Kansas where she graduated from Humboldt High School. She was a Kansas State University Leadership Scholar and President of the Horticulture Club. She married Bret in 2009 and they have a daughter Ellie, born in 2021. Their family is completed by three adopted dogs.

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