In some areas of the country, it seemed like this winter would never end. Meanwhile, cities in the southwest recorded their earliest ever 100-degree day. Wild weather is one of many challenges gardeners deal with. But with the right planning, you can have a bright and bountiful gardening season.
Mind the wildlife. Nothing can keep every critter from munching on the greenery, but some cultivars are more resistant than others. Most groundcovers are loved by deer, so plant deer-resistant plants and shrubs and use mulch instead. Good options include mock orange, bottlebrush buckeye, lilacs, winter daphne, and bluebeard.
For the birds. Attract desirable wildlife with bird-friendly plants such as coneflower, sunflowers, honeysuckle, buttonbush, and elderberry. Milkweed is known for attracting monarch butterflies, and blanketflower also attracts butterflies, not deer.
Right for your region. Local nurseries should stock plants appropriate to your area, but check the USDA plant hardiness zone map to be sure perennials, shrubs, and trees you plant this year are likely to survive into the next.
Go low (maintenance). Spend less time gardening and more time enjoying your plantings with low-maintenance options. Good options are hostas, peonies, yarrow, daylilies, catmint, sedum, iris, and switchgrass.
Choose eco-friendly. Plants that can withstand dry conditions not only take less care, but also save on using a precious natural resource, water. Waxy- or thin-leaved plants tend to be more drought-resistant. Good options are sedum and other succulents, yucca, and spurge, as well as a wide variety of prairie grasses and flowers.
A great landscape can be yours with the right plants. Now get out there and enjoy the growing season!