There are three things to consider in selecting plants. They are, in the order you should consider them: plant hardiness, site conditions and suitability for your landscape design.
Wisconsin is divided into hardiness zones based on lowest winter temperatures. Many plants cannot survive Wisconsin winters.
All plants require a certain set of growing conditions. The conditions your site offers will determine what plants will grow well there.
Soils vary greatly in acidity, drainage, and fertility. Sandy soils are usually well drained, while clay soils may become water logged. Few plants do well in both situations. Use the soil information from your lot or farmstead analysis in selecting plants. It's better to select plants for your soil than to try to change the soil.
Plants vary in their sunlight requirements. For example, the Japanese yew does well in shade, but junipers need full sunlight to grow well and look their best. As you evaluate alternative landscape designs, consider shade patterns created by buildings and existing plants.
Some evergreen trees and shrubs will not tolerate the drying effect of winter winds. On the other hand, most hardy deciduous plants (those that drop their leaves in fall) will tolerate full exposure.
Topography. Some plants have adapted to cooler northern slopes, while others do better with hot, dry, south-facing exposure.
Be aware of possible air and soil pollution when selecting plants. De-icing salt damages many plants, either as a soil contaminant or as a spray created by traffic or snow plowing. Pollutants from industries and automobiles, such as sulfur dioxide, ozone and fluoride, also damage plants.
You must select plants that will grow well under your conditions or you'll have trouble keeping them healthy from the outset.
Extension publications A2865, "A Guide to Selecting Landscape Plants in Wisconsin," and A2970, "Salt Injury to Landscape Plants," contain more information on these subjects.
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How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.