Plant choices aren’t always easy. If you select the wrong shrub, it may require more trimming than you thought or never achieve the desired size. That’s why your selections should be based on sound horticultural principles and preferably at the recommendation of your landscape provider. Sounds straightforward enough, doesn’t it? But here’s a true story:

The landscape chair of a local HOA community (“Bob”) asked his landscape-maintenance company to replace plants in the common area next to the front gates. Nothing was really wrong with them, he said. The residents just “want something different.”

The manager said sure; he would bring in a landscape designer to create a proper plan. “Oh, no,” said Bob, handing him a readymade list of plants. “That won’t be necessary. We know a lot about plants and feel confident these will work fine.”

The manager went to great lengths to discuss why some of the selections wouldn’t do well in the specified area. He also pointed to the small sizes requested, saying it would take several months before everything would fill in and achieve the desired look Bob wanted.

But the plants were installed — to Bob’s specifications.

A few months later, one of Bob’s neighbors walked up to the landscape manager and asked, “Why did you plant all this stuff? There’s no color and it all looks small and wimpy. And I know for a fact that those ixoras will never get enough sun.”

“Because that’s what your landscape committee wanted,” the manager replied.

Like we said, plant selections should be based on sound horticultural principles, not on looks and price alone. Weigh all the information, consider your budget and remember: Landscape is an investment that increases your community’s home values. It’s not fair to tie your landscaper’s hands and then expect your planting area to look like a botanical garden.

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