Choose the Right Plant for the Right Spot

A key to having a landscape that thrives is to choose plants that are best suited to your yard conditions.  And,choosing the right plant for the right spot can cut down on your use of fertilizers, pesticides and water.  When choosing a plant, consider choosing native plants and do your best to avoid invasive species.

Many factors affect plant growth:

– Is the area sunny or shade?

– What’s the soil like?  Dry or wet?  Sandy or rich with organic matter?  

– Is the area exposed to wind, salt, or traffic?

– Are there steep area?  Lots of rock or ledges?  

Plants prefer or tolerate a certain set of conditions over others. When plants are forced to grow in areas that are not suitable, they fail to thrive and can be subject to disease and pests. Lawn grass, for example, can require a lot of inputs and maintenance compared to other plants such as certain groundcovers, shrubs and trees.

If your lawn has trouble spots or areas that are hard to mow,consider replacing them with other plants that are naturally disease and pest resistant and that are well-suited to those conditions that are problematic for a lawn.

Think of your yard as a unique environment with the opportunity to be creative. Where there are wet spots, a water garden may be an alternative. Where there are natural woodlands on your property, consider leaving them intact and incorporating wildflower gardens, shade gardens, and creative edge landscaping between your yard and the woodlands. Where there are steep slopes and/or surface stones or ledge, groundcovers, low-growing shrubs and rock gardens may be a nice solution.

 Proper planting and establishment of the plants in important to the success of your landscape. Proper site preparation, handling and planting methods, fertilizing and watering are important in getting the plants off to a good start. With careful planning and selection, well-established plants will eventually require minimal maintenance and inputs in the way of fertilizers, pesticides and watering. Renovate and plant new areas in smaller chances, to avoid having large areas that are in need of special attention.

Download a Printable Factsheet:

Choose the right plant for the right spot

For more information on sustainable plants and landscaping:

Sustainable Tree and Shrub Manual

RI Coastal Plant Guide

URI Master Gardener Program Hotline: 1-800-448-1011

URI Plant Protection Clinic (401) 874-2900
Assistance with identification of plant insects and disease

The Rhode Island Wild Plant Society
The Society is dedicated to the preservation and protection of Rhode Island’s native plants and their habitats.

The Rhode Island Natural History Survey
Information on native plants, native plant suppliers, and a list of invasive species to avoid.


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