Eric would like for Tom to talk a little bit about what the home gardener should keep in mind from the standpoint of making the right selection and making sure that we do what we can to select plants that are going to be most successful. Some of the more useful questions or comments would be - How large are the plants going to get, what colors do you want to achieve, what's going to contrast well, what's not going to contrast so well, what's going to compete, do I want something narrow, do I want something globus, do I want something that's gonna spread low? There are a lot of considerations when putting a garden in. It's very important to look at - Is this plant going to perform here, do I have the wrong plant for the wrong location, do I have the right sun exposure? Again, with a little research, a gardener can find those things out today pretty easily. It's also important to consider - Does it want water, does it want drainage?
Tom would say everything should start with your soil. Good preparation of the soil is basic gardening whether you're doing conifers or red redbuds or what have you. Secondly is mulch. Mulch, mulch, mulch and then more mulch. There are a lot of reasons but particularly with conifers you're keeping the soil cool, you're avoiding the soil splash coming up from the ground causing environmental issues for the plants. But think about size. They surprise you. Plants don't read books. And when it comes to size they really don't. So if the book that says four feet, that will be dependent on where that is. We talk about zones, but zone 7 in Birmingham, Alabama is not the same zone 7 in Portland, Oregon. A lot of it is trial and error. Don't be afraid to try things. Don't be afraid to lose plants. You are not going to grow as a gardener unless you make mistakes, you're just not gonna grow.