Selecting the right plant for the right spot.

Isn’t November a fabulous time of the year, still wet and warm - and the garden and lawns are sure loving it!

Hi to all the keen gardeners!

Lately when driving the work van to see my landscape clients in the Waikato, Auckland and Tauranga regions, I have seen some terriable landscaping choices in peoples gardens and also some bad choices by the local city council landscapers. Just a few examples are:

I saw a homeowner in the Waikato region who has recently planted 4 x large growing deciduous trees only 3 metres away from their house. One of the four trees was a Gingko biloba (maidenhair tree) - if you know this tree it eventually gets to about 12metres tall, and a spread of at least 5-6 metres. Imagine what this lovely specimen is going to look like in 15 years time, that close to the house. About 3 x metres away they had another big growing tree, Acer negundo Kellys Gold (also a very big growing tree), and just to finish they put a lovely red maple, which would have been a more appropiate size, but because it was planted on the windiest west side of the house, it had virtually lost half of its leaves within a month of coming into growth.

I was in Tauranga just recently and drove down James Road at Te Puna, what a lovely planted street, with both sides of the road planted with the flowering cherry, Prunus Shimidsu Sakura. It was a real picture with all the trees in full flower. On one side of the street was a power line but because the shimidsu sakura tree is not tall growing and tends to grow wider, it was the most perfect choice, whereas if the residents of James Rd, had chosen an upright growing variety of cherry tree, then the trees would have needed severely pruning every where and apart from the extra cost of having to do this, the tree ends up looking rather mutilated and misshapen. So well done James Rd, Tauranga. Your trees are an ongoing great asset for your road and in 15 years time they will still be there, creating an even greater display.

On the other hand, I was in the St Andrews area of Hamilton last week, driving along Sandwich Road and this road is lined both sides with a very good performing red maple called Acer Palmatum Bloodgood. I like the tree and its a good performer, but definitely not on a windy site. The trees in this road have only been in leaf since about mid-late September and already half of the new leaves have been burnt off from the wind. Some of the maple trees in the road do look very good and others look absolutely like they are on their last breath of life. So in five years from now the good performing sheltered trees will be wonderful roadside specimens, and the others, who are struggling, will either have died or be close to it. It’s no good the council replacing the dead trees with more of the same because they will obviously die also. The decision by the city landscaper to use such a delicate tree out in a windy site, is a bad decision and a waste of time and money!!! 

I was visiting a new landscape client of mine in Tauranga, and they wanted some help with the revamping of their garden. Earlier in the year they bought 3 x Thuya smaragd (which is an upright growing conifer) from a local plant retailer, which is one of the better performing conifers if your region is warm. I didnt have a problem with their purchase but they planted it directly in front of their lounge window. You don’t have to think too hard about the view they were going to have out the window in another five years time, and then the plant would have surcumbed to the chainsaw. What a waste of time and money.

I could easily give you another 50 examples of poor plant selection choices that I have seen in my recent travels.

So, where are these examples leading this article? I am basically wanting to say before you go out and buy any plant tomake sure you fully understand what conditions the particular tree/shrub likes and how big is it going to get, and learn about what conditions will make it perform. If you are not sure or can’t find the answer then ask!! Don’t’ guess!! Definitely don’t buy a plant because you like the look of it, if you dont understand what makes it perform and how big and wide it’s going to grow.

I tell every one of my clients, the aim is to select good performing plants that require minimal maintenance and wont have to be pulled out in so many years, because it was totally inappropiate for the site it was planted. 

Have a great time enjoying your garden 

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Graeme Burton - Landscaper - Rukuhia Homestead, RD2, Ohaupo 3882
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