The two maps below show my two different sites and the plants I am planning for them. Not being a landscape architect or a true plant material expert, there is no guarantee that these plantings will turn out to perfectly meet my stated goals or to be worthy of anyone else’s replication. I am, however, certain to learn a “fair whack,” as the Aussies say, by going through this exercise. And, it seems to me, that I stand to lose only some time, some work, and some money. Additionally, I’m telling myself that the less than $800.00 spent on the plant material, which is due to arrive this spring, cannot possibly all be wasted … maybe just some of it.

In the map with the house, the scale is one square = 2 feet. In the map noted as NNR where the area is actually larger, one square = 3 feet. The spacing and plant locations are pretty much determined. However, they will be reconsidered again after it thaws and I can get colored flags with plant names placed in the ground at every location. Ground testing in this way will help get a feeling for placement and possible pathways and help prevent any unnatural straight lines. Though one of the main goals is screening, this is to be brought about through casual clusters of plants and not by creating linearity and a hedge effect.

As mentioned earlier, my search for what to plant was very much facilitated by my PhD Ecologist friend, Melinda Knutson, from Trillium Consulting, who sent me the following list of shrubs for consideration:

Scientific Name CommonName
Viburnum lentago** nannyberry, sheepberry
Viburnum rafinesquianum arrow-wood, downy arrow-wood
Corylus americana American hazelnut
Diervilla lonicera** northern bush-honeysuckle
Symphoricarpos albus** snowberry
Euonymus atropurpureus burning-bush, eastern wahoo
Cornus amomum knob-styled dogwood, silky dogwood
Cornus sericea** red osier dogwood
Amorpha canescens lead-plant
Ceanothus americanus** New Jersey tea, red-root
Amelanchier laevis Allegheny serviceberry, Allegheny shadblow, smooth
Amelanchier spicata dwarf serviceberry
Aronia melanocarpa** black chokeberry
Physocarpus opulifolius** ninebark


I researched all of these and found some did not match my needs or the sites’ conditions. So, I selected 9 species that I thought might work. My spreadsheet even shows the number of lepidoptera each species supports. And, since biodiversity is a major goal, this was important to me. One note: even though I wanted to include serviceberry (because it provides food for 106 lepidoptera species!) my previous experience with really slow and struggling growth everywhere I’ve tried them, steered me away from these.

Another place one would do well to look for area native plants that support biodiversity is in Appendix One of Douglas Tallamy’s “Bringing Nature Home.”  (Editor’s note:  Tom will be leading a book study of this book, in collaboration with the McIntosh Memorial Library on April 30th, if you’d like to start reading now.) There he lists all sorts of native trees, shrubs, vines, herbaceous perennials, streamside plants, grasses, sedges and rushes, ferns, and ground covers specifically native to our part of the Midwest.

Adjacent to the list of common plant names shown on the maps are the suggested plant spacing for each. As the photos of crowded and not-crowded Red Osiers in the last blog clearly showed, one does not want to lose sight of proper spacing. The temptation is to plant close and have them fill in fast and prevent the need to mow or weed as quickly as possible. However, this is a short-term fix that ultimately detracts from the aesthetics of a mature properly-spaced planting.

The next blog will be about resources and the sourcing of these native plants.

Plan of planting plan for in-town house                                                   

Planting plan for in-town location                                                          Planting plan for rural location