Whether replanting an area, or just filling a gap, there are a few things to consider to help ensure the plant you choose will thrive, instead of dying. And not turn into a thug taking over the entire garden. There is also an overwhelming number of plants from which to choose. The questions below will help you work out exactly what sort of conditions the area you are looking to plant has. This will help you narrow down your choices and ensure the plant(s) you select will be happy.
Sunshine or shade?
Much like people some plants love to bake in the sunshine whereas others would prefer to be tucked away in a cool shady spot. Put a shade loving plant in full sun and it will soon wilt. Conversely a sun loving plant put in shade will be pale, leggy and just look miserable.
Is it a damp or dry spot?
Under trees, despite being shady, is often very dry as the trees take up most of the moisture and their canopy acts as an umbrella when it rains. Conversely, low lying spots or those near an underground spring or watercourse will stay damp even if it is in full sun. Many plants dislike damp ground especially wet ground in winter which is colder.
Sheltered or exposed?
Some plants, for example Acers, don’t like cold winds so need to be in a sheltered spot. Others are pretty tough and don’t mind growing in an exposed site. They are really useful as they can be grown to provide a windbreak or shelter to other less hardy plants. As well as exposure to cold winds be aware of frost pockets. Often at the bottom of slopes this is where cold air collects making it more prone to frost.
Finally, check how big the plant will become. When you buy a small shrub in a garden centre it is easy to forget it could end up 6 feet tall in a few years time and will flatten any slower growing or small plants beside it.
So to get the right plant for the spot, which will give its best for years to come, answer the questions above and then read the plant label. Many on-line nurseries have a search option where you can put in the criteria above and get plant suggestions. Alternatively visit your local independent garden centre or nursery. They have lots of knowledge and will be able to give you some advice.