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Before You Plant . . .Choose the Right Plant

Developing an entire new landscape, revitalizing an existing landscape or planting a single tree is an investment in your home and the environment. Investing wisely increases the return and reduces disappointment.

Hot Springs, Ark. – Developing an entire new landscape, revitalizing an existing landscape or planting a single tree is an investment in your home and the environment.  Investing wisely increases the return and reduces disappointment.  

The process of landscaping your home begins with proper plant selec­tion and understanding your site. Knowing which plants are best suited to the site is critical to future success. For example, hostas, ferns, bigleaf hydrangea and most azaleas are better suited to shady locations and will struggle in full sun.

A common problem in many new landscapes is poorly drained soils.  In this case, we have two choices: either deal with the drainage issue or select plants that tolerate poorly drained soils. Again, proper plant selection is critical. In this situation, knowing that plants such as boxwood, most ever­green hollies and evergreen azaleas will die in poorly drained sites should prompt you to avoid these plants.  

A clear understanding of a plant’s attributes, good and bad (e.g., plant size, flower fragrance, flowers and fruits, messy fruits, brittle wood) is needed. Many new landscapes are overplanted because homeowners did not consider the ultimate size of the plants selected. This leads to dis­satisfaction, extra pruning and the inevitable need to replace or severely prune the plant.  

Placing a large shade tree close to the corner of a house or a shrub growing to 12 feet beneath a 4-foot window does not make sense long term.  Be sure that the mature plant size will fit the site. Information on plant characteristics can be obtained from books, the Internet or professionals at your local garden center. The Cooperative Extension Service has an on-line plant database (http://www.aragriculture.org/ horticulture/ornamentals/ plant_database/default.htm) that may prove useful.  

Before purchasing plants or planting them, you need to know several things about the planting site.  Issues such as sun exposure, soil pH, drainage and location of utilities need to be considered.  

Start with the soil.  Significant changes to the soil are easy prior to planting the landscape.  Testing your soil before planting is easy and will provide useful information that will improve the long-term success of your landscape.  

One of the most important pieces of information gained from a soil test is the soil pH.  The soil test report indicates the current soil pH (acid or alkaline) and makes a recommendation based on the plant type if a change is required. Soil analysis is even more important if other plants in the landscape are having problems.  

Collecting a soil sample is a fairly easy process (see FSA2121, “Test Your Soil for Plant Food and Lime Needs”, at www.uaex.edu).  Soil samples can be submitted to the Garland County Cooperative Extension office, 236 Woodbine in Hot Springs. 

For more information, contact the Garland County Extension Office at 623-6841 or 922-4703, or email Jimmy Driggers at jdriggers@uaex.edu

EHC Information

Are you interested in joining an existing Extension Homemakers Club? EHC is the largest volunteer organization in the state. For information on EHC call 623-6841 or 922-4703 or email jvincent@uaex.edu

Master Gardeners

If you’re interested in becoming a Master Gardener and would like more information, you’re welcome to attend their monthly meeting on the 3rd Thursday of each month at 1pm at the Elks Lodge.  You may also call the Extension office on 623-6841 or 922-4703 or email abates@uaex.edu.  

4-H Information

We have several 4-H clubs for our Garland county youth who are 5 to 19 years old.  For more information on all the fun 4-H activities there are, call the Extension Office at 623-6841 or 922-4703 or email Linda Bates at lbates@uaex.edu

The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

By Jimmy Driggers
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jimmy Driggers
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
236 Woodbine Hot Springs AR 71901
(501) 623-6841
jdriggers@uaex.edu

 


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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