How to Care for Landscape Plants

Five Methods:Determine your Planting ZoneGet Some Landscaping Garden ToolsWatering Your Landscape PlantsWatch for WeedsFertilize Your Landscape Plants

Caring for your landscape plants is fairly simple when you realize that all plants have the same basic needs of water, light and air. The application and exposure to these three elements varies according to the types of landscape plants you have on your property and which gardening zone you live in. The suggested guidelines listed below will help you determine how to best care for your plants.

Method 1
Determine your Planting Zone

Before choosing your landscape plants, you must determine whether or not they will survive in the planting zone for your area.

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    Refer to the website links listed at the end of this article to help you determine the correct planting zone where you live.
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    Research the plants you’d like to grow, or find more information on the plants you already have, and see if you can find a way to adapt your garden to suit their needs if your choices are not entirely compatible with your planting zone.

Method 2
Get Some Landscaping Garden Tools

You won’t need to use all of these tools every day, but at one point or another, you will need them for proper landscape plant care.

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    Use a hoe to weed and groom the soil around shallow rooted plants. Hoes can also be used to chop off annual weeds (perennial weeds must be dug out and removed) and other plants at ground level. A weeding hoe has a short handle and a two-sided tool head. One side of the tool head is narrow and the other side has 2 or 3 tines.
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    Look for a cultivator that has anywhere from one to five pointed tines. Cultivators are used in a chopping and pulling motion to remove shallow rooted weeds, and to break up surface soil crust around plants.
    • It is convenient to have both a long-handled and a short-handled cultivator so that you can easily reach all your plants.
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    Patrol your garden with a weeder. Weeders look like wide screwdrivers, except they have a notch on one end. This long narrow design allows you to dig down the side of the taproot of dandelions and other deep rooted weeds.
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    Do your 'sit down' weeding with a hand cultivator. Hand cultivators allow you to dig down and remove the tap roots of perennial weeds without needing to strain your back by bending over repeatedly.
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    Get a gardening trowel that has just the right “feel” to it because you will use it constantly. Gardening trowels look like miniature shovels and are invaluable, especially during planting season. Drop shank trowels are for general gardening use. Straight shank trowels are for planting bulbs.
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    Keep a landscaping rake on hand for leveling seedbeds and other landscaped areas. Landscaping rakes are similar to steel garden rakes, except that they are wider and the back of the rake head is straight and even.
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    Trim your plants and shrubs with pruning shears. They are a must item you will need to care for your landscaping plants.
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    Use scissor shears for cleaning up or shaping ground covers and around the base of shrubs or trees.

Method 3
Watering Your Landscape Plants

Keep your flowers, shrubs and trees adequately watered. Water requirements vary from plant to plant. Your plants may do fine with the water naturally available from the rainfall you receive in your area.

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    Water new transplants until they become established and if weekly rainfall is inadequate.
    • If you have sandy soil that is unable to hold much water in reserve for your plants, you’ll need to water more often than if you have loamy soil that can hold plenty of moisture.
    • Your flowers will communicate their watering needs to you. All flowers will wilt if they receive either too little or too much water. Your flowers will most probably wilt a bit in the mid-day sun, but that is to be expected and is only temporary. Flowers wilting after the heat of the day has subsided indicates that there is a serious water shortage.
    • If you are not sure your flowers are wilting because they need water, you can check the soil by digging down a few inches and feeling it. If the soil is still moist several inches below the surface, you don’t need to water.
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    Give your flowers an average of 1” of water a week. Keep a rain gauge to track the rainfall and then water your flowers more if they need it.
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    Deep water your trees and large shrubs once every month. Turn your hose on low, so that there is little more than a trickle of water coming out, and place the hose near the plant. Let the water drip into the soil for several hours so that the water reaches the deep roots of your larger trees and shrubs.

Method 4
Watch for Weeds

Weeds aren’t just unsightly, they can choke out your desirable plants and take over your garden completely. They also rob the soil of valuable nutrients that your flowers need.

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    Inspect your flower beds daily for weeds and remove the weeds as soon as possible.
    • Most freshly sprouted weeds can be hand-pulled.
    • Tough weeds, such as Dandelions, will require your weeding tool or any long, narrow garden tool you have on hand.
    • If you don’t dig out the entire Dandelion root, it will quickly grow back, so dig deep and get it all out at once.
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    Avoid letting any weed go to seed. Even weeds with an annual life-cycle can produce thousands of seeds in one season. The wind will scatter the seeds all over your property and create countless hours of work for you.
    • If you don’t have time to dig out a weed that is on the brink of going to seed, at least pull the top of it off and dispose of it.
    • For Dandelion and other wispy, delicate seeds, use one hand to slip a paper bag over the top of the seed head and snap the plant stem with your other hand, keeping the seed head inside the bag so the wind doesn’t scatter the seeds.

Method 5
Fertilize Your Landscape Plants

Flowers and plants need essential nutrients in order to grow and develop. Use fertilizer to meet the nutrient needs of your landscape plants.

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    Buy a soil testing kit at your local plant nursery and test the soil in your garden to determine the pH of your dirt. Most plants can survive in a variety of soils with a pH ranging from moderately acidic to mildly alkaline.
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    Choose a fertilizer that will amend your soil to the correct pH. Soil pH can be adjusted by the addition of lime to increase alkalinity or the addition of sulfur to raise the acidity. Your county extension service or your local plant nursery can give you recommendations about what kind of fertilizer to purchase.
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    Fertilize annuals after they are in the ground for several weeks.
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    Fertilize perennials a month after planting.
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    Fertilize large shrubs and trees after their first season.


  • As a gardener, your pruning shears will get a lot of use, so it is well worth the extra money to buy a quality pruner. Select pruning shears that fit your hand well in both the open and closed positions.
  • Store your garden tools in a large bucket filled with coarse sand to which motor oil or vegetable oil has been added. Every time you use one of your garden tools, clean off the excess dirt from the tool and dip it up and down in your sand bucket a few times and then leave it in the bucket until you use it again. The oil in the sand will prevent the tool’s metal from rusting.
  • With experience, you will learn to bend the rules a little and make adaptations to your landscape plantings to allow you to grow a wider variety of plants.
  • Your horticultural zone is a guideline. Remember that there is always a chance of occasional extreme winters or summers.
  • Introduce transplants to their new environment gradually. If the plant is coming straight out of a greenhouse, let it spend a few days in a cooler area before you plant it. And if you are moving a plant from a shady area to a sunny location, let it spend a few days where it will get lots of sun, but shade it from the more intense direct afternoon sun.


  • Read the instructions on your fertilizer carefully. Over-fertilizing your plants can be as harmful as under fertilizing them.
  • Pace yourself when you are working in your garden. Heat stress can cause heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
  • Many garden tools are sharp so be sure to put them away when you’re not using them so that no one gets hurt.

Things You’ll Need

  • Hoe
  • Cultivator
  • Weeder
  • Gardening trowel
  • Landscaping rake
  • Pruning shears
  • Scissor shears
  • Garden hose or watering can
  • Fertilizer

Article Info

Categories: Gardening | Landscaping and Outdoor Building