The landscaping around your home makes an enormous difference in its curb appeal. In fact, according to the 2013 National Association of Realtors survey, 71 percent of homebuyers consider landscaping important. Whether you are selling your home or planning to stay, a beautifully landscaped home is always inviting. You can replace dead and dying foliage, but if you do not know what to look for in healthy nursery plants, you could end up back where you started. The tips below will help you determine which plants are your best choices at the nursery.
Tips for Purchasing Landscaping Plants
Allow yourself plenty of time at the nursery. By taking your time and carefully choosing your new plants, you can purchase strong and healthy specimens for your landscaping project or garden.
Once you decide on a particular species, examine the entire group before you choose individual plants. Look at the size and shape of the plant species. This gives you some insight into the health of the plants. Choose plants that are uniform in shape and size within their respective species. A taller or larger plant is not always the better choice. They may be weak because they are overgrown.
Look for Insect Damage and/or Disease
Look for insect damage in the soil and plants surrounding the plant you choose. Avoid plants that have mildew, dark spots, holes, juicy areas, distortions, sliminess or white powdery sections. These characteristics may indicate insect infestation or disease. Don’t purchase any of the plants in this grouping.
When looking at flowering nursery plants, purchasing already bloomed plants may not be the wisest choice. You need to look at the leaves instead. When a plant is flowering, it is putting the majority of its energy into setting seed and creating more blooms. The plant you choose needs to produce a sturdy root system to support healthy growth. However, if you are looking for a specific flower color, you can wait until the blooms are visible. You should purchase the plant as early as possible. Examine the roots on the plants to ensure they are healthy. Overgrown roots need to be re-potted/transplanted immediately.
Evergreens should be bright green. Evergreen plants should have new tips, indicating recent growth. This new growth makes for easy transplanting and increases the odds for long-term survival. Examine the needles. A plant with sizable sections of brown needles is in poor health. This indicates lack of care or insect infestation. Choose a well-formed evergreen plant or shrub.
Tips for Purchasing Trees
The Root Ball
If purchasing a plant with a root ball, make sure the ball is solid and not showing any evidence of rot. The ball should feel firm and moist. Loose twine or burlap indicates a dried out root ball. When you gently squeeze the ball, it should have a slight bounce to it. The burlap should look new and the twine snug. The ball should be 10 to 12 times the trunk’s diameter and there should be mulch around it. A broken root ball may indicate damage to the roots. Chances are that this plant will have problems growing.
What to Avoid
- Broken branches
- A badly skinned trunk
- Diseased foliage
- Needles or leaves that are turning brown or curling
- Plants without signs of new growth
What You Want in a Tree
- Flexible branch tips
- Healthy, green foliage
- Living branches – a couple dead branches is nothing to be concerned about
- Appropriate shape for the plant species and cultivar
- Conifers should show signs of growth in spring – the ‘candles’ should be soft, flexible and bright green
By using healthy plants in your gardening or landscaping project, your completed project should thrive. Beautifully designed landscaping will increase the curb appeal of your home and give you years of enjoyment.