Here in Oregon we are blessed with the ability to grow an amazing variety of beautiful shrubs, trees and perennials. Our climate is so good for growing that 75 percent of our wholesale ornamental plants are sold in other states.

With our great growing conditions, why do I hear so many homeowners whine that they can’t grow anything well except weeds? The nurserymen have learned how to grow happy, healthy plants, so clearly there must be a positive answer. The secret is education and follow-through in six areas:

Soil — Dealing with heavy clay.

Drainage — How to keep your plants from drowning.

Plant choice — Do you have zonal delusion?

Location — Choosing the right plant for the right place.

Fertilizer — How much is too much?

Care — Once we have our babies in a good place, how do we keep them alive?

This spring, I’m going to discuss and debate these issues. I’ll tell you what I’ve done and the result, good or bad.

We will have an adventure in learning how to help our plants grow. When we get done with all that, I might just tackle the lawn. Right now our lawn is riddled with creeping buttercups. The flowers are pretty, but the lawn looks like “you know what!”

Ann Nickerson has practiced landscape design in the Tualatin Valley since 1993. Contact her at or by phone at 503-846-1352 with comments or questions.

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