Select plants that meet your design objectives. Important considerations include the following:
- Function: Select plants that have the appropriate mature size, shape, and structure.
- Attractiveness: Make sure the plants have the desired color and texture characteristics.
- Cold hardiness and/or heat tolerance: Check to make sure the plant is adapted to the temperature zone for your area.
- Reduction of maintenance: Select species that require less water and fertilizer inputs. Also avoid plants that require excessive pruning and cleanup.
- Safety: This is especially important in areas that children will use. Try to reduce the number of plants that may have poisonous fruits, flowers, or foliage or that have thorns or spines that can cause injuries.
- Plantings near utilities: Make appropriate selections that will not cause interference.
- Economy: Make choices of plant material type and size based on affordability. Planting smaller plants will often allow planting of desired species.
- Use of native species: If a natural landscape is desired, native plants may be appropriate because they are better adapted to low maintenance situations within their home region. In Idaho, native plants can be more drought tolerant than nonnative species.
- Noxious nature: Noxious weeds are a serious problem in agricultural areas. If you plan to purchase or introduce plants from out of state, contact your local Extension educator for information or the County Weed Control supervisor about noxious weeds in Idaho.
Here are a few other considerations when buying plants:
- To ensure greater adaptability to your area, purchase plants that local seed sources have produced, and
- To save money and allow inspection prior to purchase, check local nurseries before purchasing plants via mail order.
The University of Idaho, Washington State University, and Oregon State University have jointly published an outstanding publication listing plant species adapted to Northwest landscapes, PNW 500 Plant Materials for Landscaping.