Darrell Blackwelder column: Things to consider when sprucing up landscapes

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 12, 2022

With warmer weather now upon us, many are considering sprucing up their landscapes. Winter damage, constant pruning or just bad plantings warrant a landscape makeover.

Preparation and proper knowledge are essential in developing a beautiful landscape. Below are a few mistakes homeowners make that can be avoided with proper planning.

How big does this plant get? Most buy plants without knowledge of how fast they grow or the mature size. Shrubs labeled “dwarf” such as burfordi holly and dwarf Alberta spruce will eventually stretch eight feet tall.

• Incorrect exposure.  Often homeowners place plants where they want them rather than proper sun exposures. Some plants can adapt to full sun exposure while others, such as hydrangea and some azalea types, wilt within minutes of full sun. Take time to study the amount of sun in any given area before planting.

• Over planting. Many often over plant, impatient for shrubs to mature at the desired size. Placing plants close together is appealing, but over time as shrubs become established, they become overcrowded and unattractive and often must be removed after a few years.

• Improper or no pruning. Horning back trees or shrubs creates unnatural structural forms, weakening plants predisposes them to insect and disease problems. Take time to learn growth habits before pruning. If you have a tree or shrub that you must constantly prune, it’s the wrong place.

• Impatience. Planning is very important part of good landscape design. Landscape architects spend hours developing the perfect landscape. Great landscapes often take years to develop. Your landscape is an open book to your personality, or some refer to landscape an outdoor living room.

• Maintenance. Proper landscape maintenance is very similar to housekeeping. It’s a routine chore, however, the rewards can be bountiful.

Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at deblackw@ncsu.edu.