Gardening Opinion

Updated on May 12, 2008
L.S. asks from Kennesaw, GA
10 answers

Hi Moms, I moved into a new home in a new subdivision in the Kennesaw/Acworth area and the builder did a poor job on the landscaping. There are plants, but the order does not make sense. I have been given instruction by my husband to try to make it look better. That's fine except I know absolutely nothing about plants or gardening. If there is anyone that loves to garden and would be interested in giving me some advice, I would greatly appreaciate it.

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answers from Columbia on

Hi, L.,

My name is A. and I live in Irmo with my husband (love of my life!) and two children, Kayla -age 10 this month and Thomas -age 5 as of December.

I promise you that if you go to any of the plant nurseries in town and take photos of your house and your landscaping thus far, they will be more than excited to help you plan your landscaping. I have found Lowes or Home Depot are prety good with their knowledge of plants, not so much with Walmart or Kmart, or even grocery stores. You can go to the Farmers' Market out by the Collosiem in Columbia. Be sure to take notes as to what you would anticipate your finished yard.

You will find that you don't necessarily have to spend a fortune to find just the exact types of flowers you want, keeping in mind that there are some plants that thrive in the sun and others who do well in the shde. One thing that is the most important of all, don't forget to water whatever you plant! #1 cause of death of plants! #2 cause is overwatering, so check with the folks at the nursery to find how how much water the plant will need. I have come to the conclusion that here in SC, you could water the plants every single day, twice a day and still not overwater!

Go to the library and check out books on landscaping and discover flowers or foiliage that you've never even heard of before. There are certain flowers that will draw hummingbirds and other kinds of birds and then there are plants that will be a haven for certain kinds of worms. So you may want to keep all that in mind as you shop. I would read up on the plants and talk to the helpful folks at the nurseries before actually purchasing anything.

Keep in mind that plants usually look best in groupings of 3. Also, you will need to know the difference between perinneals and annuls. Perinneals come back year after year - like shrubery and flowers grown from bulbs or tubers, such as lilies or irises. Don't be shy about mixing the colors of foilage. Even non-blooming plants can set an awesome backdrop to the flowers in front of them! If everything in your garden is breath-takingly beautiful, you have no focus point. It will just look like a jumble of flowers.

As I said before, any reputable nursery will be able to walk you through everything you need, including any fertilizers or special care of each plant. I have always found "flower people" to be very eager to share their knowledge and their plants. Look through some books - Southern Living Magazine is a good place to start, but assess your yard for sunny spots and shady spots and decide what kind of conditions you have for optimal growth.

Also, don't know if you are aware of it or not, but Riverbanks Zoo offers master horticulture classes for a small fee. They even have a children's program.

Annuals come back year after year due to seeding. If you break of the dead flowers before they have a chance to seed, then you don't have as high a reseed rate. But annuals are pretty inexpensive, and you can buy most of those at ANY place, just look at the plants to make sure there are no yellow leaves and then look at the bottom of the containers to make sure they are not root bound. (Roots would grow out of the bottom of the container if root bound.) Also, if you are buying shrubs or trees or any kind of plant that is used to being in a container, when you cut away the planter, take both hands and gently rub around the sides of the root ball, loosening the roots so they can take off running and establish the plant sooner. #1 rule is to water them, even if you think it is about to rain, water them anyway. I've lost many a plant wating on rain that never occurred!

Good luck! You shouldn't have any problems if you start at the library and then take your favorite ideas to a smaller nursery to ask questions about how feasible it would be to plant the particular plants around your house - which you should bring the pictures of just in case. You would be stunned to know how little it could cost you. Don't buy all your plants in one day. Walmart's annuals are just as good as anyone else's, but you won't find a sales person who knows anything about the plants. Build your foundation- or backdrop- out of greenery - shrubs or some other tall greenery. Some people like Azaleas, but after they bloom, sometimes they look a bit ragged until the following spring.

If you need any monkey grass (border grass) or would like to have some black-eyed Susans or some Creeping Rasberry vines (not fruit producing, but are supposed to turn bright fall colors in the fall), or lamb's ear that grows fuschia colored flowers and propogate profusely, blooming all summer, please let me know and I will get some together for you. Every year I wind up throwing away LOTS of these flowers/vines. Just let me know at [email protected] - be sure to put "plants" in the subject line because if I don't recognize the sender, I don't open the email. Hope that helps! A. Shaffer

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Myrtle Beach on

If you are not all that familiar with gardening, I would start out with plants that are easy to maintain. I use juniper plants in my flower beds as a filler. These are evergreens and look great all year long. Also, certains kinds of juniper give off a lovely aroma when they produce berries. Azalea bushes are also very easy to care for and produce pretty flowers. If you have shady spots in the yard try filling them with hostas. Pansies are about the easiest flower to work with and will bloom for you most of the year (Late March-October). If you have a fence that you would like to decorate, consider a climbing vine like wisteria, jasmine, or even ivy.
If you need to plant any trees, Wax Myrtles are a good choice. Of course, there is always the old standby: palmetto grass. That's one of those plants that you either love or hate, but it's big, bushy, and easy. Or you could opt for citronella bushes. They don't really keep the bugs away, but they are a good match for Wax Myrtles. If you want something that you can shape (like a topiary) try Japanese Holly.
And don't be afraid to ask for help from some of the local nurseries. Some will even come out and help you plan out your project for a small fee. If you are buying enough from them, they may also waive the fee.
But if you are going to do it on your own, the key is to plan ahead. There are a number of good gardening books that you can purchase from Lowe's. I would recommend one that is tailored to our zone as the information will be more useful. And most of all, have fun with it. It can be a little frustrating at times, but for the most part gardening is a highly rewarding experience.
Hope that helps and good luck to you!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Florence on

I would talk to someone at a local nursery about what will work in your climate, soil, sun/shade, root systems and so on. Also, you could probably find some good information at the local library. Since you are in a subdivision, make sure that you are permitted to make changes (I know some don't allow them, or it has to be approved first)before doing anything. There is a golden rule of gardening "If it comes up out of the ground easily, it was a valuable plant, not a weed" (I have found this to be very true!) Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Macon on

Check out Walter Reeves' website. He's the gardening expert on AM 750. I don't know when his radio show is on because we don't get that station in Middle Ga., but my parents swear by the advice he gives.

Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

He told you to fix it?!?!?!?!

Just kidding. My husband is a total brown thumb, so he stays away from all the plants and even mowing the lawn. I like to use my gardening time as "Mommy time" where I get some peace and quiet, and a little workout. I love it, and it's helping me lose my post-baby pounds.

I guess it depends on what you're planting and where. I like plants that take care of themselves and come back year after year, so I have a lot of bulbs (iris, gladiola, daffodil, tulip). I also like self-seeding plants, like my Colombian Jasmine that climbs our fence. Then there are perennials (plants that live through the years) like the clematis on our mailbox (another climber) and ferns for green around our trees. We have azaleas, hydrangeas, and gardenias around the house, but those have been there forever. One of my favorites is Rose of Sharon, a flowering tree that loves the sun and comes in several pretty colors.

Obviously, it would be cheaper to move plants around if you already have them in the yard. But, if you have to go to a greenhouse (or even Lowe's or Home Depot), ask for help! The staff are a great resource. You'll want to make sure you know which parts of your yard are sunny and which are shady. Let them know you are new to this and you want "easy care" plants. I would try to avoid annuals, unless you want to replant every year. There are plenty of great flowering plants that can easily survive the winters down South.

As far as order goes, taller plants in the back, shorter plants in the front. Advanced gardeners may be able to plan it out so some part of their yard is always in bloom, but I wouldn't worry about that just yet. And who is to say you even need flowers? Some yards look great with just greenery.

Good luck! And feel free to send me a message if you have any questions - I'm an amateur, but I've killed enough plants by now to know which ones thrive!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Hi L.,
I love your unusual name!
I am an avid perennial gardener. I live in Woodstock. My builder did a terrible job on the backyard landscaping. I had soggy Bermuda and dry in other places and to cover one of the concrete drain that several yards benefit from, he planted 5 Legustrum (huge shrubs)at the back corner of my lot. I did decide to use that as a point of focus and it has turned out very well. I have also created a center yard of grass and made the entire perimeter gardens of Crete Myrtles, perennials, Dogwood,butterfly bushes and Indian Hawthorn. It is beautiful and the talk of the neighborhood. I also have this behind a perimeter of paver stone that I laid myself. I did pay a landscaper for a consultation of what he suggest I do with it and he did expand my patio and make a walkway from the backyard to the garage. That set me [email protected] was worth it though. He added a french drain for the water problem, piped the downspouts to that drain in the back corner and did a beautiful job with the paver stone. He added a dry river bed with stones and planted several of the larger items, like a Yoshino Cherry that is a focal point in the garden. My question to you is, WHY did you get this job????? Who does your husband think you are ?? Samson?? This is hard grueling work and a woman can hardly do alone. I AM by myself so I paid for the help. Contact A-1-Landscaping and ask for Jason. He also did my son's backyard in Alpharetta. His boring backyard is now a beautiful entertaining back yard with very little upkeep.
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

I am not a gardening or landscaping expert either....but I do know that some people might want to know what part of town you are in so they can figure out if they might be able to help.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Call 1-800-AKSUGA1 (Cooperative Extension) and find a Master Gardener in your area. Their services are FREE. They are volunteers who need to accumulate hours to keep their Master Gardener status. They could come out and advise you on how to proceed. Or, take photos and go to a local nursery and ask for help. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Make pictures of your house and landscaping (front, side & back). Print out in 8X10 on your computer. Take them to somewhere like Pikes or a merchant that has knowledgagle people and ask for advice on what to plant where. You may need to move some around and it may be fall before you can achieve allyou want for your new home. V.

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answers from Atlanta on

Go to Better Homes and Garden website. They have a ton of gardening plans that makes things so easy. All you do is find one you like, download it and you're off to the nursery with a professional garden plan.

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