As readers know, I've been planning to landscape the front of our house this summer. But finding the right plants, shrubs, and perennials is difficult. You need to know what works in sun vs shade, how big will it grow, how to balance blooming cycles, and what looks good together. I've also learned that two plants I really like - azaleas and hydrangeas - are poisonous. Not good with two puppies that eat everything they see.
So how do you find the right plants:
1) Take pictures of plants that you like in your neighborhood or as you drive around town, go to a nursery and find out what they are or ask at the nursery to identify the plants for you. Then find out if they're sun or shade, perennials or annuals, etc.
2) Spend several hours just browsing at a nursery and garden center. Read the labels because plants that are blooming now, won't later, and some will bloom later that aren't now. You'll want to balance this to give you color throughout the growing season. Take notes so you'll remember when you leave and go home to design your landscape.
3) Check out this site. They have a plant finder where you query type of plants, size, shade, sun, growing zone, and more. I'm not sure the list is entirely complete, but it certainly helps you find plants to fit your situation.
By using some or all of these methods, you can figure out what plants you want to use in your landscaping. Of course, you can also hire a landscape designer or architect to create a plan for you. But what's the fun in that?