Where to start - Knowledgebase Question

Traverse City, MI
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Question by plerchen
February 7, 2006

We just moved into a new home..with not one plant or schrub, except 2 very large Cedar trees in the front of the home, bordering the property. The front of the home faces North. Help! Where do I begin? Also could I plant Pampas Grass on the north side of a garage?

Thanks alot for any input! :)

Answer from NGA
February 7, 2006
There are so many possibilities that I will give you some hints on choosing plants, as there is no way I can know your likes or dislikes. The most important things when choosing plants are determining what sun exposure (full, partial, shady) they will thrive in and how much space they need to grow to maturity (both vertically and horizontally), and then comparing that with what your landscape offers. Soil type is another important characteristic. In other words, you wouldn't want to put a huge sun lover in a tiny, shady location. This seems obvious, but many people forget it when they go to the nursery and are confronted by all sorts of beautiful plants. Analyze your site and think about what you want from plants (color, shade, cut flowers, bird attraction etc.) then choose plants that fit that situation. Use Monrovia?s Plant Finder to come up with a list of plants you might be interested in. You can focus the type of plant category (shrub, perennial, etc.) and attributes (summer flowering, hummingbird attraction, etc.) that you want. Enter your zone. A list of possible plants will come up, then go to the plant?s webpage for more detail.

As for pampas grass, it is not well-adapted to your cold (it is native to Argentina) and also needs full sun so a northern exposure isn't the best. Also, it is highly invasive, spreading into the wild and crowding out native plants. It is appearing on invasive plant lists as undesireable. I recommend people stick with native and well-adapted plants, as they are easier to care for, take the local soil conditions and are less likely to suffer from pest and disease problems. They also attract local birdlife. Check with your state's native plant society and your County Cooperative Extension office. They'll have lots of info. Good luck!

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