Details Landscape Art designs and builds beautiful gardens throughout the North Bay, from Sonoma County to Napa County to Marin County and beyond. In planning and then designing a project, we are cautious about our plant selection, since there are many plants with issues. After first determining the homeowner’s lifestyle, whether they have children or pets, and their tolerance for pruning and maintenance,  plant selection is determined accordingly.

There are many plants grown and sold in North Bay that may or may not be appropriate for a particular garden. There are some plants with more serious issues that we won’t plant at all. Others may require that we be careful in how they are used. Plant selection considers the following issues:

Poisonous plants: If there are small children or pets in the household, we would definitely not use the following:

  • Nerium oleander – there is a reason they are heavily used on freeway medians. They are tough, hardy, and require little water
  • Digitalis (Foxglove) – attractive perennials, but very poisonous
  • Daphne – (berries)
  • Hyacinths, narcissus, daffodils
  • Lily-of-the-valley (convallaria majalis)
  • Rhododendrons and azaleasBartel Rhodies
  • Elderberry

Invasive /aggressive plants:

  • Stipa tenuissima and pampas grass – these should NEVER be planted. They are an environmental hazard that will spread and take over large areas and are extremely difficult to control.

Aggressive growers: These are plants that grow very quickly and require frequent maintenance to control, especially in a smaller garden:

  • Potato vine – most vines are aggressive, but this one is very fast growing and difficult to prune back when it gets out of hand.
  • Buddleia – This is an extremely fast growing shrub, which is appealing because of its flowers and attraction to butterflies. Use only in areas where they can be given lots of room. Must be pruned back hard each winter
  • Vinca major – very aggressive (vinca minor is less so, and easier to control)

Messy plants: Evergreen trees drop their leaves a little at a time all year long. The following are especially messy, and not to be planted near patios or other outdoor living areas. Use them out in the ‘back forty’ of a larger property:

  • Olives – even the so-called ‘non-fruiting’ varieties drop fruit
  • Schinus molle – California pepper
  • Albizia julibrissin – Silk tree (Mimosa) – fast growing to forty feet tall, up to sixty feet wide, requires summer heat. Drops leaves, flowers and pods.
  • Liquidamber is a deciduous tree with beautiful fall foliage, but it drops thousands of hard spiky seedpods

Plants with stickers: Although these plants may be desirable for their flowers and colored foliage, they must be located away from high traffic areas or where children may play. We use these plants frequently, but cautiously:

  • Berberis – Japanese barberry – there are several varieties available. We like ‘Rose Glow’ which arches to five feet tall and wide, with nasty stickers
  • Roses – probably the thorniest of all, there are hundreds of roses out there, including hybrid teas, floribundas, climbers, English roses and on and on. Gorgeous flowers, painful stickers
  • Citrus – lemon, lime
  • Pyracantha – beautiful berries, but nasty sharp stickers. Aggressive, spreading, wild looking plant. Keep far away from people.

Plant selection in garden design considers plants with issues.