Planning for your spring landscaping projects

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, March 20, 2019

By Patricia Drackett

 Director and Assistant Extension Professor of Landscape Architecture

The Crosby Arboretum, Mississippi State University Extension Service

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Those of you who brought home some new plants from the Arboretum’s big spring plant sale this past week are well aware that planning – and planting – lie ahead for you. What kind of garden projects are you planning for the spring?

Perhaps you are dreading going through yet another year of having to constantly prune certain plants. Could you simply remove these and replace them with plants having a mature size better suited for that location?

Maybe you have a neighbor you wish would disappear. One polite solution for this situation is to plant an evergreen screen of plants along the perimeter of your yard. Some outstanding native evergreen species plants for this purpose include southern wax myrtle, American holly, red star anise, Ocala anise, buckwheat tree, and American sweet olive.

Learn more about native shrubs in the outstanding publication “Native Shrubs for Mississippi Landscapes” that includes some of these evergreen plants. Visit the Mississippi State University Extension website at and search by this title to read or download the information. Also on the Extension search engine, you can enter the keywords for any other plants or topics you want to learn about.

Enter “Smart Landscapes” in the search field to access this webpage containing numerous links to topics that will guide you to create attractive and low-maintenance landscapes that are wildlife friendly, use water wisely, and lower your energy costs. As the site’s introduction states, “Mississippi Smart Landscapes” use tried and trusted methods with a little artistic flair to create an attractive and ecologically sound garden that will complement your home and neighborhood.”

You’ll find a huge amount of research-based information that you can trust specific to our state on the Smart Landscapes site, including MSU Extension Publication No. 2698, “Home Landscape Design”, a comprehensive guide to creating a landscape plan with guidance on how to avoid making common landscaping planning mistakes.

Are you tired of mowing an extensive lawn? Reduce the amount of property you mow (and your time and energy!) by converting lawn to natural areas. You can also incorporate existing trees in your turf areas that might currently be bothersome to mow in and out around.

Give your yard a facelift by repeating a color or texture in your yard. For homes with a more formal appearance or in neighborhoods where landscaping is used as a decorative frame for the house, one simple way to quickly improve the curb appeal is to create crisp edges to your beds and add fresh mulch, such as pine straw..

When building garden beds, is it really necessary to add soil amendments? After all, plants are found growing just about everywhere. First, decide what you want from your landscape. If you prefer colorful garden beds filled with high-performing blooming annuals or perennials, or ornamental flowering shrubs or trees, most likely you will need to make a substantial investment of labor and materials – adding, for example, fertilizers, pesticides, and soil amendments such as cow manure and peat – to bring these plants to their full potential.

However, by choosing native species and matching them to the site conditions they prefer, you will not need to add soil amendments. Take a walk at the Arboretum to see many examples of how to use native plants in your home landscape!

Come by to see the Arboretum’s spring gallery exhibit of photography by Rhonda Lewis, on display until May 31. A Flower Planting Workshop will be held this Saturday, March 23 from 11:00 to noon. “Ms. Flora” (Master Gardener Amy Nichols) will read a story and talk about the parts of a flower. Then, children will plant sunflower seeds and make mini-greenhouses. 

Members’ children $2; non-members’ children $4. An instructional workshop on Mississippi’s Venomous Snakes will also be offered Saturday, March 23 from 1:30 to 2:30. Live snakes will not be used! The program will feature lifelike snake replicas. Members’ children $1; non-members’ children $3. Children must be accompanied by an adult.  Reservations are requested. Please call 601-799-2311 to sign up. No charge for adults.

Learn how to design low-care “Smart Landscapes” with native plants on Saturday, March 30, from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m.. Members $2, non-members $5. That afternoon, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. a program will be held on “Monarchs, Milkweed and Nectar Plants for the Gulf Coast”. Members $3, non-members $5. Reservations are requested for programs. Call (601) 799-2311 to sign up.

The Crosby Arboretum is located at 370 Ridge Road in Picayune, at I-59 Exit 4, and open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 to 4.

Leashed pets are welcome.