Groundskeeping: How to Choose the Right Plants and Trees for Your School Landscape

Are you ready to give your school landscape design a makeover but don't know where to start? Planting groundcovers, ornamental grasses, trees and shrubs, and low-maintenance annuals and perennials can add texture and color to your garden. When selecting plants for a school landscape, it's important to consider the soil, traffic, sunlight, and water or drainage conditions of the area. This will help you determine which species will do best in that location. Additionally, you must look at the specific habits of the tree or shrub, such as its growth expectations; the needs for sunlight, water and soil; and the fruiting or flowering habits.

Combining these two things will give you optimal results for designing a school landscape. The American carp is an excellent choice for a low-maintenance addition to your school's landscape design. It has a slow growth rate of about 1 foot per year, but in its full size it can reach 20 to 40 feet tall and 20 to 30 feet wide. This tree offers puffs of golden-yellow flowers in early July and large, attractive seed pods that turn from pale green to brown and hang on the tree during the winter.

The American low-crowned carp likes full sun and adapts easily to dry conditions or poor soils. The gray-brown bark and yellow-orange fall color of the small-leaved lime tree make it an ideal choice for educational facilities in Northeast Ohio. It has smaller leaves than other members of the lime tree family and forms a tight pyramid with fragrant yellow flowers in early summer. Its heart-shaped leaves are dark green during the growing season and turn bright yellow in the fall.

This tree is ideally sized for school grounds gardens, reaching just 50 feet tall at maturity with a 30-foot extension. It can tolerate the most difficult conditions, such as pollution or drought, when given full sun. The thornless Hawthorne is an excellent choice if you're looking for all-season beauty products without painful thorns. This easy-to-use variety is a specimen of a tree with dense foliage, so it can be used as a screen near a play area without worrying about students running into thorns. It brings white spring flowers, showy red fruits in early fall, and bright orange fall foliage in its mature 30-foot by 30-foot frame.

Give this tree full sunlight and it will adapt well to all the landscape traffic on the school grounds generated by your site. This popular landscape shrub is an evergreen variety that retains a beautiful shape all year round. The small, round leaves remain green during the growing season as well as in winter. Deer also tend to avoid it in favor of other tastier options. Growing 15 feet tall and wide, this shrub penetrates the ground in full sun or partial shade.

In fall it comes to life with vibrant red foliage, adding a touch of drama to the landscape of your school grounds. This low-maintenance shrub has a fine texture that sets it apart from other shrubs and a rounded shape. It can reach 4 to 8 feet tall and wide, making them perfect specimens to stand out or as hedges or even windbreaks. Resistant to diseases and highly tolerant to pruning, these shrubs that grow 3 to 12 feet tall and 3 to 6 feet wide can make excellent hedges, foundation or border plantings, or even as screens in your school landscape design. Plant in well-drained soil; fertilize annually and add mulch to retain moisture, control soil temperature and eliminate weeds. Woody ornamentals are divided into four main categories: trees, shrubs, vines, and groundcovers.

Trees are typically 15 feet or larger with a main trunk and generally have a different raised canopy. Landscape plants can also be used for engineering purposes such as providing passengers and drivers with comfort against the reflections of the sun and eliminating headlight rays from traffic on the opposite road. Controlling soil erosion, air pollution and humidity are some of the functional uses of types of gardening plants. When selecting plants for your school landscape design, more emphasis should be placed on their foliage which will appear throughout the year. For example, while European birch (Betula pendula) is often used as a landscape tree, it is susceptible to bronze birch borer which can have significant impact on it.

Placing large trees in places where they don't belong can cause serious headaches in the future. Low-maintenance landscaping doesn't mean that maintenance isn't required; all plants will require some routine care to be successful. Even with best planting practices, if a plant isn't suitable for a particular site it won't thrive there. Annual gardening plants should be planted every year while perennials are loved by homeowners and gardeners because they have the ability to re-bloom with little maintenance.

However any plant will require supplemental irrigation during its establishment period.