Winter months are a good time to plan your spring landscape

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Winter months are a good time to plan your spring landscape projects. You can reflect on the improvements you would like to make, what worked well last year and what not so well. At times the planning process itself can seem daunting, so we hope to provide a few ideas to help make your planning a little easier.
First, review the lighting characteristics of your yard spaces. Classify exposure to daily direct sunlight as full sun (over 6 hours), partial sun (4-6 hours), partial shade (2-4 hours) and full shade (less than 2 hours).
Also, do these areas get evening sun, midday sun or morning sun? Turf and plant material can be sensitive to the amount and type of sun available to them.
Next, obtain a soil test. Take several samples (12-15) of 6-inch soil profiles, mix them together and submit 2 cups of the blended soil to your local county extension office for analysis. Soil pH and nutrient availability help guide fertilizing programs and plant selection. What is your soil like? Is it loamy, sandy or full of clay? You may want to amend the soil in your beds before planting if the soil is of poor quality.
Now think about what has worked well in the past and what has failed. You may want to try these same plants again. Even the ones that failed; it may be a matter of changing their location to one that is more suitable. It is okay, however, to give up on certain plants. Maybe it is time to throw out that ragged azalea or hydrangea. Oklahoma has some pretty harsh conditions and we have plenty of plants that do just fine.
Now you are armed with three key pieces of information that drive plant selection: the amount and type of sunlight, the soil chemistry and the soil type. When selecting plants, keep this information in mind, read the plant tags, talk to your nursery consultant and select accordingly.
Consider a variety of plants in your landscape. Variety is good, but keep balance or visual weight in mind. Balance can be achieved in many ways. Most often it is achieved with plant size and plant color, but texture can also support the balance of a garden.
Place shorter plants in front of taller ones in your beds and select colors that complement each other. Plants can add texture like grasses with beautiful plumes or the graceful branching of abelias. Scatter some evergreens in the landscape to add year around interest.
Soften house corners with taller plants like crepe myrtles. Add some annuals for color and use ground covers in large bed areas. Select turf types that are suitable to the conditions.
Another great source of interest in the garden are hardscapes like a terraced area with rocks, a retaining wall, a flagstone path, an arbor, or a trellis. Vines on a trellis add great interest and appeal to wildlife.
In summary, planning a landscape can be rewarding and proper planning can prevent the visual confusion caused by a haphazard collection of plant materials.
For whatever the weather may bring, we at Alpine are here to help.  Feel free to contact us with any planting, composting or trimming tools you may need.  We look forward to seeing the beautiful results of your hard work when spring arrives.


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