Most people don't think about their plants during the winter months, however it is the best time to plan out any additions or alterations you would like to do. If you can come up with a plan now, then you will be ready to plant a healthy, hardy, beautiful landscape once spring does arrive.
An invaluable tool in this planning stage is your computer. There are several different computer based landscape design programs available. I have used several of them and have found little to no difference in their performance.
To utilize these programs, you take a digital photo of the area(s) that you want to redesign or add to. This image gets downloaded into the design program and you are ready to go. These programs allow you to overlay different plants at various stages of growth or you can look at them in any given season. The programs should also contain a plant encyclopedia; this allows you to check if the plant that you select will be right for the area that you are putting them in. This is one of the most critical parts of planting- if you want your new plants to be healthy and have little to no insect and disease pressures, make sure you are matching the plant to the planting site. For example, you should not plant a shade loving azalea in the full sunlight or a yew in an area that stays wet on a regular basis, these plants will only become stressed out which will lead to heavy insect infestations, disease pressures and premature death.
In designing your new landscape or addition you should also look at aesthetics. Try to figure out if you what you would like to see. Do you want flowers blooming all year long? Or do you want greenery throughout the season? Or do you want a combination of both? Once you have decided, you can then look at the plant encyclopedia and choose 2-3 specimens plants for each application. You can then arrange and rearrange them in ways that that they will work together to meet your needs. At this point you can also arrange the hardscaping (i.e.; rocks, mulch, furniture and any other accents you want to put in) to work with the new plants.
Once you have the plan down to where you like it, then you should visit or call your local nursery or garden center to find out when they begin receiving their plant shipments. When the spring comes then you should visit the nursery or garden center to price out the plants. I will cover the proper ways to pick out quality nursery stock in my next column, since there is a lot to look for.
If you have any questions or would like to redesign your landscape, feel free to contact me and i will be happy to assist you in any way I can. I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, at the office- 631-691-2381 or at 516-369-0752.