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Selection and preparation are important components to long-term landscaping success

Preparing the landscape can inform homeowners about which plants to purchase and can ensure they thrive after planting.New plants can add a great deal to a landscape. Whether they're replacing plants that are no longer thriving or being added to supplement an existing landscape, new plants are an affordable way to give a home's exterior a whole new look.

Much consideration must be given to which plants are selected for a landscape. That's understandable, as homeowners want to choose plants that will thrive and won't compromise the health of surrounding plants and trees.

Before planting or even choosing plants, it's important to plan for new additions to a landscape. Preparing the landscape can inform homeowners about which plants to purchase and ensure they thrive after planting.

Document sunlight exposure

Plants have different needs, and one of the most significant differences between species is the amount of sunlight they need to thrive. According to Penn State Extension, plants characterized as "full sun" require six or more hours of sunlight per day, while those considered "partial sun" need between four and six hours of sunlight per day. Plants designated as "partial shade" need two to four hours of sun per day, while "shade" plants need less than two hours of sunlight a day. Documenting sunlight exposure in advance gives homeowners an idea of which plants should be planted and where they should be planted. Jot down these observations in a journal over several weeks and then choose plants that thrive in each area.

Test the soil

A soil pH test is a quick and straightforward way to determine soil's acidity. Soil pH levels will indicate how likely a plant is to thrive at a given spot. However, high levels won't necessarily mean an area should be avoided, as some plants thrive in acidic soils. Additional soil tests can determine other characteristics, such as soil nutrient levels and the amount of organic matter it contains. These variables can help homeowners make the right choices as they introduce new plants to their properties.

Consider local wildlife

If local wildlife makes its presence known on a property, homeowners may want to take proactive steps before planting anything new. A new fence might prevent animals like deer from getting in, but that likely won't do much to repel smaller animals like squirrels, rabbits or foxes. If wildlife is a concern, homeowners can seek advice at their local garden center about which plants certain animals are likely to ignore. Homeowners who want to attract wildlife can do the same in reverse, choosing plants wildlife will be drawn to. Before planting, homeowners who prefer to deter wildlife should erect fencing or other barriers.

Clear space if necessary

Plants grow up and out, and cramped quarters can make it hard for new plants to thrive. Some may thrive but only at the expense of other plants. If necessary, clear space before planting to ensure plants have ample room to grow.

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