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Outdoor Living Design: 6 Modern Outdoor Elements to Set Your Next Project Apart

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Installing plant material is often more complicated than people realize. That’s because homeowners tend to assume it’s merely a matter of picking out some plants that they like and putting them in the ground.

In reality, you have to consider what plants will not only perform well in your region (such as plants native to Virginia) but also what plants will perform well on your specific property.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to determine what plants might be right for your landscape including native plants of Virginia that might naturally be a good fit.

How to Know Which Plants are Suited to my Property?

If you have purchased plants on your own before, you probably know that they are typically tagged with “zone information.” This is representative of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Plant Hardiness Zone Map.

This map exists to help people understand which plants will grow best in their region, based on cold weather temperatures.

landscape technician planting shrubs in front of a patio

As you might have guessed, some plants can tolerate the cold better than others! If you’re going to be buying plant material, you want to keep these parameters in mind.

We wrote all about understanding planting zones in this article but it’s important to know that the USDA map was just recently updated.

You can see the new map here.

The hardiness map was updated to reflect some of the recent temperature changes that the country has experienced. That means that some plants which thrived in our region previously might not perform as well now.

Choosing Native Plants of Virginia

When making choices for your landscape, Northern Virginia native plants could make a good option for a few reasons.

Native plants have already adapted to our region and therefore tend to be incredibly hardy. They also tend to be drought-tolerant and require little upkeep in order to thrive.

Native plants are those that have been historically found and grown in the region and as a result, tend to do well with minimal care. Many of these native species are found growing on their own in the wild without any care.

Because they require less care, using plants native to Virginia is a key way that we strive to be environmentally-friendly as a landscaping company.

Virginia Native Plants List

There are plenty of plants that are native to our state.

As far as our favorites, here is a list of the Virginia native plants we frequently like to use.

Perennials

Muhlenbergiacapillaris pink muhly grass CC

Asclepias incarnate (Swamp Milkweed)

Swamp Milkweed is a great food source for monarch butterflies. This is a taller perennial, so not always a great fit for smaller landscapes.

Echinacea purpurea (Coneflower)

Purple Coneflower is an attractant for Gold Finches and is long-blooming.

Osmundastrum cinnamomeum (Cinnamon Fern)

Cinnamon Fern is a lovely shade-loving plant with beautiful orange, red, and yellow Fall colors (hence the name!).

Muhlenbergia capillaris (Pink Muhly Grass)

Pink Muhly Grass is an ornamental grass that adds a fun texture to the landscape and a pop of pink (above).

Shrubs

Callicarpa americana (american beautyberry) CC

Callicarpa americana (American Beautyberry)

American Beautyberry gets showy purple clusters of fruit in the Fall (above).

Vaccinium corymbosum (Northern Highbush Blueberry)

Blueberry is a wonderful addition to the landscape, not only for actual fruit production but also a beautiful shrub with excellent Fall color. It makes a nice choice as a container shrub for patios too.

Ilex glabra (Inkberry)

Inkberry Holly is an evergreen shrub option that can be an alternative/substitution for Boxwood.

Trees

betula nigra river birch dura heat CC

Cercis canadensis (Eastern Redbud)

Eastern Redbud has profuse pink or purplish blooms in early Spring and heart-shaped leaves. You frequently see these trees around woodland edges and along highways. Our favorite variety is ‘Carolina Sweetheart’ which has a white, pink, and green variegated leaf. “Flame Thrower” is also very cool with bright yellow, orange, and red foliage.

Betula nigra (River Birch)

River Birch has lovely peeling bark and helps to soak up water if you have a wet spot in the yard. You can get it in a single-stem or multi-trunk form.

Amelanchier arborea (Serviceberry)

Serviceberry is a small ornamental tree that has clusters of white flowers in Spring, red berries in summer, and certain varieties have stunning Fall colors (‘Autumn Brilliance’).

Native vs Naturalized Plants

While we love many native Virginia plants, it’s important to keep in mind that just because something is native does not mean it is always the best or right choice for the landscape.

In other words, just because a certain plant originated here historically does not mean that there couldn’t be a plant from somewhere else that could do just as well.

Naturalized plants are those that have spread into a non-native environment but have performed well and as a result, have reproduced. Often, naturalized plants can also make a good choice for your landscape.

That being said, you do always want to be wary of invasive plant species. Some plants that grow incredibly fast and choke out native plants might be labeled “invasive.” Invasive plant species can be potentially problematic.

However, not all naturalized plants become invasive.

We also want to make the point that Northern Virginia native plants installed in the suburban landscape are not necessarily maintenance-free. While we’ve mentioned that many of these species might be found growing naturally in the wild, without care, the residential landscape isn’t the same as fields or forests where soil tends to be naturally rich and these plants are getting what they need.

Plants in the suburban landscape are often subject to harsher conditions and may still require some upkeep and care to look and perform their best.

We don’t want homeowners to feel that they are only limited to native plants as we often make suggestions outside of this scope.

At the end of the day, the plants selected for your landscape should be customized to you and your property’s specific wants and needs!

Landscape Design in Northern Virginia

We know that plant installation can get complicated, particularly if you’re committed to doing it right. For that reason, it’s a service that is best left to professionals if you want to have the most success.

landscape design stone stairs hillside planting bed shrubs woodline shade with ferns and shade trees

At Kingstowne Lawn & Landscape, we know that proper plant selection and installation are incredibly important when it comes to your ultimate happiness with your landscape. We know that when you are purchasing plant material you expect it to last many years. In addition to paying attention to proper planting zones, we’re also looking at both native and non-native options that might work best for your specific home.

And then we’re making sure that your plants are installed properly so that you can continue to enjoy your landscape for many years to come.

At Kingstowne Lawn & Landscape, we not only handle plant installations but also their ongoing maintenance. In addition to offering valuable advice, we can also offer our clients a Plant Health Care program, Pruning Plans, and Mulching Plans, which will set them up for success.

This all boils down to helping you protect your investment. When you invest in professional landscaping services in Alexandria, Arlington, and Springfield, VA, you set your landscape up for success.

If you’d like to discuss a landscape installation, plant health care, pruning, or mulching for your landscape, request a quote, get your customized plan and relax knowing that your plants are in good hands.

Request a Landscape Consultation

 

Image Sources | Pink Muhly Grass, River Birch, American Beautyberry

Krisjan Berzins - Owner, CEO

Since 1997, Krisjan has led the Kingstowne team with one simple philosophy, treat every customer like the “only” customer. His passionate pursuit of impeccable customer service has resulted in 24 successful years and a thriving company with over 85 employees, helping thousands of homeowners in the Alexandria, Arlington, and Springfield, VA area get what they want -- a worry-free property they can be proud of.