Don’t Plant This at Home

The common phrase – “Don’t try this at home” refers to all sorts of actions from pro wrestling to theatre and even television shows such as America’s Got Talent.  The common thread to all of these is an element of danger, or at least something more exciting than common sense and safety.


Don’t try this at home also applies to installing plant materials in your landscape.  Interested gardeners see scenarios like this all the time, plantings that cause them to scratch their collective heads and say something like “is that a good idea”?  As horticulturists, we see them too.  Plants that are really large for the area, sun plants in the shade, shade plants in the sun, shrubs that have grown over a path…the list goes on and on.


In order to prevent these misplaced and poorly located plantings, it’s important to consider the guidance of Right Plant, Right Place (RPRP).  This basic tenet considers the sun/shade exposure of a site, the eventual size of the plant being installed, the disease/insect resistance of the plant being considered, the soil conditions of the site, pedestrian traffic and the growth habit – sprawling, upright, rounded, conical or multi-stemmed.


Perhaps the most common RPRP mistake is the lack of separation of turf from other plants in the landscape ie. veggies, flowers, trees, shrubs.  Because turf is cared for so very differently than other plants, it grows best, and so do the others, if simply separated from and planted adjacent to trees and shrubs instead of them being in the midst of an island of turfgrass.  If this simple landscaping guideline is followed, many problems will be prevented.

border sep t o

John Fech
Horticulture Extension Educator at Nebraska Extension
John Fech is a horticulturist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture. The author of 2 books and over 200 popular and trade journal articles, he focuses his time on teaching effective landscape maintenance techniques, water conservation, diagnosing turf and ornamental problems and encouraging effective bilingual communication in the green industry. He works extensively with the media to extend the message of landscape sustainability, making over 100 television and radio appearances each year.
John Fech on EmailJohn Fech on Twitter

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.