How to Select the Best Plants for Your Garden

There's more to choosing what to plant than personal preference. Here are a few things to take into account.

You will need

  • Plants suited to your climate
  • Soil test
  • Landscape plan
  • Horticulturist

Step 1 Work with your climate Work with your climate. Most seed packets contain information about the type of weather needed to grow a particular plant, and the region of the country where the plant grows best. Don’t forget to factor in how much sunlight your particular garden gets.

Step 2 Test your soil Know your soil. You may be able to boost its mineral content with fertilizer, but you can’t change its basic composition. Bring a sample to your local gardening center; they can tell you what kind of soil you have and provide an at-home testing kit to see if it could benefit from added nutrients.

Step 3 Consider your commitment Consider the commitment you’re willing to make in terms of time and effort; some plants are less labor-intensive than others. Decide if you want annuals – plants that need to be replanted every year; perennials, which will come back on their own; or a combination thereof.

Step 4 Know water requirements Know the water requirements of each plant. Nurturing plants with vastly different needs may prove difficult.

Step 5 Lay it all out Think of the big picture: Choose plants that complement each other. If color is important to you, pick a combination that keeps something in bloom most of the time.

Step 6 Think of the local pests Think of the local pests – critters that might make growing a particular plant more frustrating than rewarding – and plan accordingly.

Step 7 Consult an expert Ask your local gardening center if they have a certified professional horticulturist on hand. They can help you make your final decisions.