Editors note: Get Growing, written by the La Plata County Extension Offices Master Gardener Program, appears every other week during the growing season. It features timely tips and suggestions for your garden and landscape.
By Michelle Flemmings
As a rule, our last frost is around May 28. Many gardeners will wait to put out new landscape plants until after Memorial Day, which is not always a guarantee but a decent guess.
Having spent all winter planning garden beds and daydreaming over garden catalogs, its difficult to resist immediately buying new spring plants. In order to choose specimens wisely, it is recommended to always put the right plant in the right place. This can be done in just a few simple steps.
First, select your garden site by taking note of the number of hours of direct sun exposure. Full sun is a minimum of six hours, part sun is three to six and full shade is less than three. Avoid harsh evening sun if possible. Beware of planting near the roofline and burying shrubs with snow.
Next, test your soil. Testing kits are available through the La Plata County Extension office you send in the samples and they can help you interpret the numbers.
Most of La Plata County is in Hardiness Zone 4. That being said, check your site for microclimates created by terrain, buildings and hardscape. Dont forget that surrounding buildings and hardscape can add heat to your planting site.
With this information, youre ready to go shopping. When faced with a huge selection, first choose plants best suited for your growing zone. Next, check the plant tag for the required sun exposure. After that, narrow your choices by color, height and other factors that you desire for your garden. Always choose the healthiest specimen available.
Beware of root-bound, infested or diseased plants. These specimens are already stressed and likely not to do well even under the best of conditions.
Right plant, right place, simply put, means choosing healthy, pest-resistant, zone-appropriate hardy plants. Following these guidelines will minimize frustration and avoid wasting money, time and our natural resources.
Michelle Flemmings has been a Colorado Master Gardener since 2011. She lives in La Plata County.