And while your client may or may not be sympathetic to these, it’s your job to overcome them with solutions for a functional and beautiful landscape. This is where perennials come in. Not only do these plants offer a consistency to your overall design by coming back year after year, but they also offer a solution to each of the problems mentioned above.
The key is to match up a condition or design challenge with the right plant (emphasis here on the philosophy of “right plant, right place”). Not only should you match growing requirements of the plants to the site conditions, you should also consider how big the plants will get – a key element that will defeat design every time if ignored. And don’t forget to mix things up. Your clients want to feel as though they are getting the customized treatment they are paying for. Look for plants with different form, texture and color.
Meanwhile, here are some suggestions to get you started with perennials to solve your toughest problems. These are designed to perform in specified conditions. Just remember that there are many more selections out there, so consult with your local nursery as you look for planting options.
For more information on perennials backed with trials and research that describes their performance, check out Michigan State University’s herbaceous perennial fact sheets at this .
Finding plants that tolerate shade can be a challenge – especially if you want to branch out from the typical purples and blues. And if you’re dealing with a dry area that’s shady, it’s even more difficult, but not impossible. Here are some selections that will thrive in these conditions.
In wet, shady areas, your options get a little more diverse.
Bright and colorful, there are many perennials that enjoy full sun. But when you throw in dry or primarily wet conditions, you are forced to become a little more selective if you want plants to thrive. For dry conditions, especially if you’re looking to create a colorful flowerbed for a client who does not have an irrigation system or for a commercial client’s parking lot, here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Sunny but wet conditions are a little harder to manage, but aren’t necessarily the result of lots of rain and sun in tandem. They are more likely the result of a sunny site with poorly drained soil. If that’s the condition in your location, consider using these plants.
They may be pretty to look at, but perennial plants that produce pollen and mold spores can make people sick. If you’d like to consider some plant choices that won’t get under your clients’ skin, try some low-allergy options. Female cultivars don’t produce any pollen at all. Look for these instead of their male counterparts whenever possible. In particular, avoid using male clones that are marketed as “fruitless” or “seedless,” as these are responsible for producing copious amounts of pollen.
Some of the most popular non-allergenic trees include the female cultivars red maple and weeping mulberry. The red maple (Acer rubrum ‘Red Sunset’) grows up to 80 feet tall and boasts red and yellow leaves in the fall. It’s a fast-growing tree that produces good shade. It thrives in full sun and won’t tolerate salt. The weeping mulberry (Morus alba ‘Pendula’) grows up to 10 feet tall and 12 feet wide. It attracts birds and should be planted in full sun to part shade.