Any one can dig a hole in the ground and put in a plant. But if that’s all you do, the plant might survive but it won’t thrive. Along the same line, you can plant any kind of plant any where. But will it live? Is it adapted to survive the heat of a North Georgia summer and the bite of winter? Can it survive off rain water or does it need irrigation? Is it an invasive plant that will over run your garden and wreak havoc on the surrounding ecosystem?
These are the kinds of questions only a landscaper who knows your native ecosystem can answer.
Recently we came across a client who had hired a landscape designer out of Miami, Florida. The design was absolutely beautiful, on paper, but the plant choices were unrealistic. The design featured native mountain laurels, and while those are my absolute favorite plant, they are notoriously difficult to grow and nearly impossible to transplant. Despite being a native plant that thrives in our area, no reputable landscaper from North Georgia would install them without first warning the homeowner that the plant might die.
This designer also opted to install some hostas and ferns for a lush undergrowth as well as some azaleas and boxwoods. All excellent choices, if the landscape has or will have irrigation. All four of these plants need an abundance water if they’re going to survive the summer and at least partial shade for the hostas and ferns. On top of the irrigation, boxwoods also need well draining soil. And by well draining, I mean not red clay. If left in red clay, the best case scenario is that the boxwoods would be easily diseased and would never look good. They also require more care than these homeowners were ready to provide.
North Georgia has a temperate enough climate that many plants can do well here, even if they aren’t native. Sometimes they do too well. That can often lull people into a false sense of security when deciding on plants. Especially if they find the plant at a local big box store. Chinese Privet is a very invasive plant that was sold all over for a long time, even one variety of nandina is invasive. And though nurseries and gardening store are doing better about selling plants that aren’t harmful to the local ecosystem, it’s always best to do your homework or hire someone who already has. You can find a list of invasive plants from the Georgia Forestry Commission here.
Plants have very specific needs and every yard is unique in the amount of shade it has, its soil, and rain fall. Having a pro come out and design your yard for you will result in the kind of yard you want. Want low maintenance? Ask a pro to choose those kinds of plants and arrange them in an efficient and aesthetic manner. Want extravagant? Ask a pro to prep your space to accommodate the plants that will go in. Want something in between? Ask a Pro.