You will probably get plants and seeds from retail garden centers (nurseries) or from mail order retailers. Large nurseries usually have a wide range of plants; smaller garden centers usually have a smaller stock of plants to choose from, but you can often find a more relaxed and helpful sales staff. Mail order suppliers may carry hard to find or unique plants, and anything else you want as well.

Retail garden center
Retail garden center

Nursery stock should be labeled. A good label will tell you the basics: how and when to plant, proper spacing, and the plant’s hardiness zone. It should also list any special features that the plant has such as its color, texture or size.

Typical nursery label

The following is a brief description of the major plant categories that you will come across at the nursery. At the most general level plants break down into two groups: woody and non-woody plants. The subdivisions are listed below.

Note that some plants can be listed separately from these basic categories, either because they are very popular or because they have special characteristics that they have become known by. Some of these plants are roses, herbs, vegetables, edible berries, groundcovers, shade plants, and vines.

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Module 3: Selection – Plants that fit your site and style

A high-level introduction to plant types, plant names, and what to look for when selecting plants for your garden

Additional Modules

01

Module 1: Site – What is a garden site and site analysis?

What is a site? Your site is the place where plants go: a garden, flower pot, window box, yard. While most people think of a site as just a plot of dirt, it really is more than that: the site includes all of the ingredients that make it unique, such as its soil and climate. …

Module 1: Site – What is a garden site and site analysis? Read More »

02

Module 2: Style – The elements of garden style

What is Style? Style can be many things to many people. For you it will be the unique way you arrange the materials that will make up your garden. Usually, creating garden designs with style is a compromise between your wants and your constraints. Wants will vary from person to person. A family with six …

Module 2: Style – The elements of garden style Read More »

03

Module 3: Selection – Plants that fit your site and style

You will probably get plants and seeds from retail garden centers (nurseries) or from mail order retailers. Large nurseries usually have a wide range of plants; smaller garden centers usually have a smaller stock of plants to choose from, but you can often find a more relaxed and helpful sales staff. Mail order suppliers may …

Module 3: Selection – Plants that fit your site and style Read More »

04

Module 4: Design – From concept to plan

Up to now we have discussed principles and techniques for evaluating your site, designing gardens, and selecting plants. In this module we take up the process of actually creating your garden. The following steps should get you started: Determine the conditions in your garden site by doing site analysis. Compile a list of your site …

Module 4: Design – From concept to plan Read More »

05

Module 5: Prepare – How to get your planting site ready

Unless you are already endowed with good soil and a ready site, you will need to prepare your soil for planting. Preparation involves laying out your site, removing anything that has to go, making beds, and amending and grading your soil. Depending on your design and your site, this could be very easy work or …

Module 5: Prepare – How to get your planting site ready Read More »

06

Module 6: Preview – Make sure your garden looks right and has room to grow

Place your plants (still in their containers) in the bed and space them as the label indicates using the enclosed tape measure. When measuring the distance between plants, measure from the center of one plant to the center of the next plant. Step back and take a good look at your arrangement; if you want …

Module 6: Preview – Make sure your garden looks right and has room to grow Read More »

07

Module 7: Plant – Install plants of all types and sizes

You should be ready to plant now. Follow the directions on the plant label, if provided. Use a shovel or hand trowel to dig holes. Clean-up, mulch, and water when done. The following are general instructions for different types of plants: Balled and burlapped plants You should remove the burlap and wire basket (if the …

Module 7: Plant – Install plants of all types and sizes Read More »

08

Module 8: Maintain – watering to winterizing and everything in between

A clean garden is not like a clean room. A mulch will fade, weeds will crop up, and your sharp edges will blur. Your goal is not to fight a battle with nature but to work with it. Your maintenance and devotion can help your garden evolve into a complex, beautiful growth, but it should …

Module 8: Maintain – watering to winterizing and everything in between Read More »

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