Going Local: Use Regional Plants and Flowers When Planning Your Garden

When it comes to deciding what to plant in your front yard, stay in the zone and go native.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Karleen Shafter of Landscape Design and Associates

Photo By: Image courtesy of Robert Radifera

Photo By: Image courtesy of Robert Radifera

Photo By: Image courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.

Photo By: Image courtesy of www.PerennialResource.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Karleen Shafter of Landscape Design and Associates

Photo By: Image courtesy of Karleen Shafter of Landscape Design and Associates

Photo By: Image courtesy of American Beauties Native Plants

Photo By: Image courtesy of www.PerennialResource.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of www.PerennialResource.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Karleen Shafter of Landscape Design and Associates

Photo By: Image courtesy of American Beauties Native Plants

Photo By: Image courtesy of Karleen Shafter of Landscape Design and Associates

Photo By: Image courtesy of Karleen Shafter of Landscape Design and Associates

Photo By: Image courtesy of Karleen Shafter of Landscape Design and Associates

Photo By: Image courtesy of Graham Landscape Architecture. Photo by Eric Kvalski

Photo By: Image courtesy of Ben Rollins

Photo By: Image courtesy of www.PerennialResource.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Ben Rollins

Photo By: Image courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.

Photo By: Image courtesy of American Beauties Native Plants

Photo By: Image courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Ben Rollins

Photo By: Image courtesy of Ben Rollins

Country Home Landscaping

This country home needed a colorful but low landscape because of the dual walkways and wide porch.  A combination of low evergreens, colorful perennials and low shrubs were used to create this welcoming entry way.

Boxwood Hedges Frame This Washington, D.C. Home

Boxwood hedges frame the staircase leading to the front entry of this Washington, D.C. home.

Azaleas and Peonies for Landscaping

Landscape artists Blake Dunlevy and Gina Benincasa of Dunlevy Landscapers in Barnesville, Maryland used azaleas and peonies for color in the front yard of this estate in Washington D.C.

Eastern Hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana)

Also known as ironwood, eastern hornbeam is a lovely tree that offers multi-season interest in Northeastern gardens. Male flowers, or catkins, linger on trees well into winter. Female flowers resemble hops. A woody fruiting capsule contains tiny nutlets favored by birds like grouse, pheasant and songbirds. The wood of hornbeam was prized by colonists for its strength and graced many tool handles and sleigh runners. This tree is hardy in Zones 4 to 8.

Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

A must in butterfly gardens, swamp milkweed is a host plant for monarch butterfly caterpillars and works well in Northeastern gardens. Butterfly adults visit blooms, along with many other pollinators. Flowers are typically pink, but you may spot some white blossoms on plants. Despite the name, swamp milkweed tolerates average to moist soils. This tap-rooted perennial prefers full sun and is best left undisturbed once planted in the garden. Swamp milkweed is hardy in Zones 3 to 6.

American Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

Yellow flowers with ribbon-like petals appear on plants in late fall about the time that leaves drop, providing an important late-season pollen source for insects. Plant form is a shrub to small tree. In its native setting, witch hazel favors woodland settings with well-drained, acidic soil, but tolerates heavy clay soil. Plants form suckers and will spread to form a shrubby colony. Remove suckers to keep plant spread in check. Witch hazel is hardy in Zones 3 to 8. Works well in the Northeast.

Landscaping for a Michigan Ranch

This Michigan ranch house had a few basic shrubs around the front of the house, and looked rather plain. Landscape Design and Associates used Malus 'Tina' crabapple as an accent. Adding a very different walk layout and flagstone bench gave the home a clean, contemporary look.

Ornamental Grasses and Flowers Brighten This Entrance

Just outside this Michigan ranch house door Landscape and Design Associates balanced the entry by installing ornamental grasses, iris and daylilies for textural interest.

Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis)

This fine-textured grass creates beautiful clumps that are perfect for edging planting beds in Midwestern gardens. Include drought-tolerant prairie dropseed in wildlife gardens. It provides cover for foraging birds, nesting material and abundant seed. Plants are perennial in Zones 3 to 7.

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Purple coneflower boasts striking blooms with reflexed purple petals that surround a spiky orange-gold cone. This drought-tolerant perennial is hardy in Zone 4 to 8 and native to the Central Midwest. Blossoms beckon butterflies and bees.

Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

Cardinal flower is a hummingbird favorite and ideal for moist spots that receive sun to part shade. Although plants are hardy in Zones 4 to 8, they’re not true perennials in that plants die once they set seed. Look for offset or young plants at the point where lower leaves join the stem. These offsets quickly produce roots and establish themselves well in Midwest gardens.

Landscaping to Remedy an Overgrown Front Yard

This home was very overgrown and they were not sure what should stay and what should go. Some shrubs were moved to a better location, many overgrown and dying plants were removed. This needed to be opened up to be welcoming.

Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium ‘The Blues’)

‘The Blues’ cultivar of little bluestem grass brings color to the garden with blue-green stems that turn fiery red-orange in autumn. Plants are deer resistant, drought tolerant once established and hardy in Zones 3 to 9. Include little bluestem to bring skipper butterflies to the garden and provide forage for birds.

Appealing Front Yard Landscaping

Many native and sustainable plants were used in this south eastern Michigan front yard.

Plant Variety Is Critical in Front Yard Plan

A variety of plants with different bloom times with foliage color envelope the mailbox. Sumac 'Tiger Eyes' provides lighter yellow foliage contrasts with Eupatorium 'Chocolate'. There is also a weeping beech and Fagus sylvatica 'Pendula Purpurea'.

Plant With the Seasons in Mind

Ornamental grasses and scrubs provide greenery during Michigan’s harsh winters.

An English Cottage Garden

The cottage sets the English cottage garden theme for this Maryland estate. Perennial clusters include Asian lilies, 'September Charm' anemone and 'Blue Fortune' hyssop.

Curb Appeal

Enormous ferns flank the front porch of this 1923 brick bungalow in Atlanta. Evergreens, a rosemary bush and manicured hedges guarantee some element of the garden stays green year-round.

Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-forma ‘Lady in Red’)

Dark red stems stand out against chartreuse green fronds on this cultivated form of a woodland native fern. Choose lady fern for a lush groundcover in a shady garden. Plants tolerate full sun if soil stays consistently moist. This fern thrives in well-drained soil with average moisture in the South, but plants can tolerate drier soil. Lady fern provides wonderful habitat for insects and ground-feeding birds. This fern is hardy in Zones 4 to 8.

Awesome Azalea

Azaleas are a commonplace feature in Southern gardens and do well in partially shaded sites. This 'Higasa' azalea boasts a delicate pink color.

Black tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica), courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.

Also called black gum, this Southern favorite fills autumn forests with fiery color. Black tupelo soars to 30 to 50 feet, with a pleasing, broadly pyramidal shape. It makes an excellent street tree and withstands soil conditions from dry to standing water. Female trees bear fruit that’s a favorite among birds. These trees don’t transplant well, so site them where you want them. Black tupelo is hardy in Zones 3 to 9.

Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)

Spicebush brings multi-season interest to a Southern garden. Scented blooms appear in late winter to early spring, before leaves unfurl on branches. Fall color features yellow shades, and when leaves drop, female plants display red berries that beckon birds. Be sure to plant both make and female plants to get berries. Spicebush hosts spicebush swallowtail butterfly larvae. Plants are hardy in Zones 4 to 9.

Moonglow Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana ‘Jim Wilson’)

An ideal choice for smaller yards, Moonglow magnolia opens lemon-scented blooms from mid-spring to early summer. Unlike other magnolias, Moonglow tolerates wet and even boggy sites. Plants tend to be deciduous except in warmest areas, although foliage can be semi-evergreen even in colder zones. Growth tends to be more shrub-like in coldest areas; a traditional tree-like form occurs in more Southern zones. Moonglow is hardy in Zones 5 to 9.

Munchkin Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Munchkin’)

This cultivated variety of the native oakleaf hydrangea boasts a tight, compact form that’s ideal for modern yards and Southern gardens. Plants reach a mature size of 3 feet tall by 4.5 feet wide and are suitable for use as a specimen shrub or hedge. Flowers open white and fade to pink as they age. Leaves turn an eye-catching mahogany red in autumn. Harvest faded flowers to dry for indoor arrangements. 'Munchkin' is hardy in Zones 5 to 8.

A Southern Estate

A boxwood knot garden defines the front entrance to this 1927 Atlanta home designed by renowned Southern architect Philip Trammell Schutze.

Knot Garden

Formally designed knot gardens like this one in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta can be traced back to Elizabethan England where they were often used to contain culinary herbs. Knot gardens are often composed of boxwood, as in this Japanese boxwood-defined Southern garden.