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COLUMN: Right place, right plants

Rosanne LoParco
Sentinel columnist
Posted 6/26/22

If there was one mantra for all master gardeners, it would be “Right plant, right place.” Gardeners who follow this rule will have healthy plants, decreased diseases and insect pests, and reduced …

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COLUMN: Right place, right plants


If there was one mantra for all master gardeners, it would be “Right plant, right place.” Gardeners who follow this rule will have healthy plants, decreased diseases and insect pests, and reduced yard maintenance. Sounds incredible, but with a little thought and following the right plant, right place concepts, you can achieve greater success in your own garden.

The right place

Before you can choose the right plant, you need to do some homework on the “place.” Looking at the area you want to garden in, ask yourself some questions:

  • How much sunlight does the area receive?
  • How is the soil? Is it clay or sandy? How is the drainage?
  • Are there tree roots which can compete with new plants for resources such as water?
  • Do you have an animal problem, such as deer or rabbits?

Always measure your space where you want to add a garden. Too much wind can be another issue for the place you want to garden; wind will dry out plants quickly. When gardening in a new location, a soil test is important. The CCE of Oneida County can help you with this — visit our website at

Consider the function

What will be the purpose of your new garden area? Will children or pets be playing in the place? Do you need to hide an unattractive view or are you creating privacy?

These are just a few of the questions to ask yourself about how you are going to use the space.

Understanding the time you have to spend on maintenance of plants is another consideration. You may also want to think about a color scheme, especially if you are considering flowering plants.

The right plant

Once you answer the “place” questions, it is time to find the right plants. Resist the urge to go to your garden center without knowing about the place you want to plant in. Instead, the right plant needs to fit in with your place.

Plant tags are your friends! Be sure to read them over; they’ll list mature height and width, color, light requirements, and other necessary growing conditions. Your nursery staff is also available to help you; ask questions and get their advice after discussing the place where you intend to plant.

The right plant needs room to grow. The mature size of a plant is often overlooked yet it is one of the most important pieces of information. Match the mature size of the plant to the size of your place to be sure you don’t overwhelm the space. Having good air circulation around a landscape plant is important too and will help to reduce disease issues. Think about how the plants you choose will look when planted near each other.

Make sure leaf shapes, colors, sizes and flowers are pleasing to you. Be sure to group plants together by their growing needs: for example, keep plants, which need heavier fertilizers together so you can be more efficient with your maintenance chores.

It’s usually easier to think about “right plant, right place” when you’re starting a garden from scratch. However, you can also follow the guidelines within an established landscape. Observe your existing garden and walk through the questions above. If a plant is not doing well, is a maintenance nightmare, or has overwhelmed your garden, you may have a plant that’s not in the right place.

Consider transplanting it or if that is not possible, try altering your “place” to suit the plant.

Some soil amendments (i.e., compost), a soil nutrient analysis, a pH test, or a good pruning may resolve the problem. If these tips don’t work, it’s not a bad thing to remove a plant that isn’t working in your landscape. Spring and fall are the best times to move plants to a new location. Let the right plants in the right places be your mantra this year and for years to come. Happy gardening!

Cornell Cooperative Extension Oneida County: Home and Garden questions can be emailed to or call 315-736-3394, press 1 and then ext. 333. Leave your question, name and number. Questions are answered weekdays 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Also, visit our website at, or phone 315-736-3394, press 1 and then ext 100.


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