Q&ARTISTREE: THE RIGHT PLANT, THE RIGHT PLACE.

Q: What are the best plants for Southwest Florida? A: The best plants are the ones that are carefully chosen for the right place. The adage “right plant, right place” could not be truer. Many DIY gardeners or inexperienced “professionals” will make the error of putting a plant that’s intolerant of salt on a seaside property. Studying the favored growing conditions and requirements of each plant in your palette is key to a successful and sustainable landscape design. For Southwest Florida, some of the best plants are foxtail palm, ligustrum trees and coonties. Coonties, in particular, are native plants that have survived and flourished since the age of the dinosaurs. They’re hard to beat, so give them a try!

Q: What are the two most common landscaping mistakes? A: That’s easy —overplanting and placing plants too close to your house! Many homeowners think they can achieve a “full look” by planting small trees and shrubs close together, but the result several years later is a crowded landscape. Resist the temptation to have an “instant landscape.” Know the mature size of your selected plants and give them room — and time — to grow. Plants too close to any house have an unattractive “cramped” look and may cause moisture problems by blocking vents. Foundation or corner shrubs should be planted half their mature width plus one foot away from the wall. So if you want a shrub to grow to be five feet wide, plant it three and a half feet away from your house.

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