The ultimate easy-care landscaping uses only plants that are native to the region. Natural rainfall will meet watering needs and maintenance is limited to periodic grooming. But even native plants have certain considerations: the soil, water, sun exposure and size.
Pure sand, clay or hardpan, poorly drained, highly acid or alkaline soils can be limiting factors for plants. If a plant is a must in a location, consider building a raised bed and filling it with the proper soil type.
Create your garden on the principle of water zones. Consider each zone as a microclimate with its own water needs, and group plants together from similar natural environments. You can create your own microclimate with boulders, lattice, trees, or buildings.
After you stake your personal territory for the patio, barbecue or grass, note the sun and shade patterns on the remaining area. Some plants will do well under any circumstances; some will fail miserably unless planted to match the proper natural light conditions.
Allow enough space for each plant to grow to maturity. A dwarf tree on a rocky ledge may become a giant in your fertile soil. The evergreen that shades you in the summer will also shade you in the winter. Your area may have ordinances restricting the placement of large trees and bushes.
In the past it was common practice to dig plants in the wild for transplant in the garden. As a result, some rare beauties have become nearly extinct. Permits can still be obtained from the Forest Service to harvest plants, but the success rate is dismally low. Consider taking a few cuttings or seeds instead. There are no restrictions on propagating your own plants.
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