WALNUT CREEK − One of the biggest challenges for any gardener is deciding which plants to install. Sifting through all the choices can be an overwhelming task, especially in the Bay Area, where the mild climate affords myriad planting possibilities. To simplify the selection process, utilize these five criteria:
Do you want to grow food? Enhance your yard’s aesthetic value? Create a sight or sound barrier? Attract animals (or repel them)? Knowing your purpose will help you decide which plants will best fulfill it.
2. Long-term growth
When selecting a plant, be sure to consider its mature size. For example, a Coleonema may look cute as a seedling, but it’ll grow to three feet tall and six feet wide, so if you don’t want that large of a plant, pick something else.
3. Seasonal behavior
Is the plant evergreen or deciduous? If it’s the former, you’ll have something you can enjoy all year; if it’s the latter, it’ll be dormant for part of the year, so make sure this works for your overall design.
Consider a plant’s irrigation needs and how you’re going to fulfill them. How much water does it need? Will you use drip or spray irrigation, or another method? If you don’t have an adequate means of irrigating the plant (or simply don’t want to increase your water bill), you’re better off choosing a drought-tolerant succulent.
Find out how much maintenance a plant requires and decide how much time you’re willing to invest in it. Are you going to maintain it yourself or do you have a gardener who will do it for you?