I am occasionally called to a property where the homeowner has planted things over the years without much of a plan. They aren’t happy with their yard, but they have difficulty articulating why it’s not pleasing to them. The problem, as I explain to them, is that their yard is filled with “plant plops.” This occurs when someone brings a plant home and places it in the ground at random, without a plan as to how that plant relates to the other plants in the yard. Shrubs often polka dot the lawn, and random lines of perennials are planted along a path or driveway. Here are a series of photos showing such a landscape along with suggestions for improving and unifying the design.
Although this hosta bed parallels the drive, it doesn’t form a border down the entire length nor does it relate to anything else on this side yard. Beds that are this shape end up looking more like graves than anything else. The other hosta has been plunked in between the two long hosta graves, giving a dash-and-dot look.
The first thing to do would be to create a bed that encloses and includes the taller plants in the yard, and move the “hosta grave” plants back there. The “dot hosta” could be separated and planted in three different locations to help unify things and provide more repetition. The red line indicates the shape of this bed which will get mulched after transplanting.
Other hosta will be placed underneath the larger trees, again, for repetition and unification. the places along the drive will be returned to lawn.
Here is problem area number 2. Another short line “plant grave,” this one planted with winter-creeper Euonymus.
The proposed solution would be to create a bed that encloses some of the existing trees and larger plants, and move the Euonymus back to that bed, breaking it into three different pieces. Other perennials that have yellow or purple foliage would be planted in the open spaces for foliage texture and contrast. I can picture yellow hakon grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’) and some purple Heuchera in this bed, and possibly some annual begonias planted in the spring.
Sometimes moving just a few “plopped plants” and combining them with existing shrubs and trees is enough to improve a landscape.