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Take time to plan your landscape

It’s already the middle of January and some of us have either broken our New Years’ resolutions or have not made that firm commitment.
Many people have told me they want to stay closer to home and try to improve their lawns and landscapes.
January weather gives us a chance to take a look at our situation and plan for next year’s gardening objectives. Just as we are continuously updating our indoor living space, we need to strongly consider our outdoor living space, as well.
Try to imagine that your landscape is an open room for all to see. Good landscaping is very important not only to one’s own personal gratification or artistic needs, but it also increases the value of the home.
Landscape plant materials are as diversified as the paints, fabrics, wallpaper and furniture styles for homes. These materials range from the formal and traditional Old English boxwood to informal hydrangeas.
Some landscapes may need a total makeover. Homes with landscape materials 20 years or older are often overgrown or disfigured with constant pruning. Over-pruned shrubs never fully recover to a natural growth habit.
It’s often more cost effective to remove damaged plants along with other shrubs which may be disease- and insect-infested. Replanting with new shrubs that are more compact, disease- and insect-resistant often makes more sense.Planning is the key to any great landscape. Now is the time to develop a realistic landscape plan. Impulse plant selection is often manifested in boring and overgrown landscapes. It’s easy to be lured into a purchase and not have an appropriate, well thought-out site for the tree or shrub.
Take time to visit nurseries, parks and other well landscaped homes for ideas. It’s worth the visit to see mature plant materials which may be integrated into a home landscape.
Even though nearly a thousand different types of plant material are available, nurserymen traditionally carry only the 40 most popularly sold trees and shrubs. Garden centers cannot afford to stock little known or unique plants that may only strike the fancy of only a few patrons. However, most of the garden centers special order unique plants for that special place in the landscape.
Design a landscape that is unique to your personality and which suits the needs of the family. Take time to visit and most of all, learn about the shrubs before purchase. The best time spent may be developing a landscape plan that may be installed over a realistic period of time.
Darrell Blackwelder is an extension agent for horticulture at the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. For archived garden columns, visit the Rowan Master Gardener Web site at www.rowan master gardener.com, e-mail Darrell_Blackwelder @ncsu.edu.

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