Right place right plant.

The most important consideration in landscaping.  When deciding on a plant's placement you must consider its mature size.  Many homes end up with the 15-25' tall holly at the corner of the house, with an 8-10' shrubs in front of windows. The home owner spends the next 5-8 years fighting the shrubs trying to keep them the right size.  At some point, the home owner and shrub give up (usually about the same time).  The shrub looks awful because it has been kept too short for its health and the home owner gives up, just tired of constantly cutting it back.


Then there is exposure.

What does the plant require?

Full Sun:

8 hours of sun each day

Partial sun:

Morning sun only.


Deep shade - the north side of a house

High shade - under trees that have been limbed up and is what would be considered bright shade

(shade under pine trees is very different than under oaks -oak shade very dry.)


Ground Preparation.

Nothing is more important.  With our clay soil, raised beds or berm are the best solutions.  Most of our favorite North Carolina plants have fibrous root systems and need loose soil to grow successfully.



Another Chapel Hill area must!  Mulch not only keeps weeds down but it preserves the essential moisture in the ground.  When mulching the most important thing is to never allow the mulch to pile up around the neck of trees.  Trees need to breathe and if the mulch is thick at the trunk insects will have a place to live and bore into the trees.  So leave 2-4" of space at the trunks.



There is a group of plants called sub shrubs.  They are herbaceous plants with a soft inner and woody outsides.  These include Lavender, Russian Sage, Rosemary, Caryopteris (Blue mist shrub) and Oregano.  Do not prune any of these plants after August.  Such late pruning promotes new growth that doesn't have time to harden off before the cold weather and will be killed.  You can and should prune in the spring to both shape and to remove dead parts.



Rosemary is a great deer-proof plant.  Many people have it in their gardens but are at a loss of what to do with it once it matures.  Once again, right place right plant...there is upright, prostrate (trailing) and now a very tall narrow variety.  So pick a growth habit to fit the spot in which you want to grow your plant.  Rosemary is an evergreen shrub even though it is used in cooking.  When cutting for cooking, cut off the stems as though you are pruning (but in the winter only the tips) for good air circulation and to remove any crossing branches.  We have found that in 5-6 years you will have  to replace your Rosemary.  How will know when its time?  No amount of pruning seems to help its shape, it is gnarly and woody.



There are 2 kinds, but the old fashioned 'mop heads' (microphylla) are the ones that give people the most trouble.  As with the sub shrubs don’t prune past the end or August.  Doing so will encourage new growth that will be killed by the winter.  Also water will be able to get into the soft tissue of the stems which can freeze and also kill the branch.  So, cut them back as soon as the flower fades to the first set of big leaves or wait until spring when it has buds.   Then cut to just above a leaf bud and don’t cut too far back since the flower buds were set last year.