Every grass, plant, tree, and shrub has characteristics that best suit it to one environment or another. The charts beginning on page 265, coded to appropriate climatic zone maps, highlight important factors to consider when deciding what to plant. Consult the checklist on the opposite page to schedule planting and landscape maintenance throughout the year.

  • Year-Round Yard Care A Checklist of Seasonal Chores
  • Grasses for Any Climate Northern Grasses Southern Grasses A Map of Grass Zones
  • Ground Covers Evergreen Deciduous Semievergreen
  • Yard and Garden Trees Deciduous Narrow-Leaved Evergreen Broad-Leaved Evergreen
  • Garden Shrubs Flowering Evergreen
  • Plants for Rock Gardens Flowering
  • A Map of Minimum Temperatures
  • Year-round Yard Care

    A landscaped yard requires constant attention to stay healthy and beautiful, and each season calls for its own set of chores. Because climates vary widely in the United States, the calendar is an unreliable guide to the seasons. Changes in temperature, soil conditions, and plant appearance are more trustworthy indicators. The last hard frost marks the beginning of spring, when bulbs begin to put out shoots and perennials unfurl new leaves and stems. Rising soil temperature is a signal for preemptive weed control. Agricultural extension agencies monitor soil temperatures and can tell you other ways they affect landscaping in your area. Many flowering shrubs bloom in mid-spring, but rosebuds announce the arrival of summer. In northern climes, cooler nighttime temperatures and falling leaves signal the start of autumn. The first few killing frosts are a prelude to winter, when most plants are dormant and require little more than protection from ice and snow.



  • ✔ Remove protective coverings from shrubs and plants. Remove old mulch or mix it into the soil and lay new mulch; start pruning shrubs, trees, and roses.
  • ✔ Rake leaves from the lawn and ground covers. Reseed bare spots in the lawn, spread fertilizer, and water it. Cut grass as low as recommended (page 50), and begin crab grass control by applying a pre-emergent weed-killer.
  • ✔ Fertilize ground covers, and cut away any stringy top growth.
  • ✔ Spray trees and shrubs with a dormant-oil spray for pest control.

  • ✔ Cut the grass to a medium height; weed both lawn and garden weekly.
  • ✔ When the soil is moist and easy to work, you can plant or transplant most trees and shrubs.
  • ✔ Edge plant beds; start a vegetable garden.

  • ✔ Prune shrubs that do not flower or that will flower in late summer or fall. Prune spring-blooming shrubs after they have lost their blossoms.
  • ✔ Check the lawn periodically to see if the soil needs more or less water.

  • ✔ Apply pesticides as needed to control fungus, insects, disease, and scale on any plants that have these afflictions. Continue spraying or dusting roses once a week until the growing season ends.
  • ✔ If you have a pool, this is a good time to plant delicate water flowers, such as water lilies and lotuses.

  • ✔ Keep all plants watered well—especially any trees and shrubs planted in the spring—to prevent sun-scorched leaves.
  • ✔ Weed flower beds and shrub beds.
  • ✔ Cut grass about 1 inch longer than its springtime length, to prevent burnout.

  • ✔ Start a new lawn or renovate an old one.
  • ✔ Examine plants for possible iron deficiency: If you see yellow leaves with dark green veins, feed the plants with an iron-rich fertilizer.

  • ✔ Aerate and dethatch the lawn; cut it shorter and at less frequent intervals.
  • ✔ Dig up and move evergreen shrubs and trees or plant new ones. Wait until the leaves fall before moving deciduous plants.
  • ✔ Plant bare-rooted roses. Water new plants regularly and mulch them lightly to deter weeds.
  • ✔ Fall is an excellent time to start a compost pile; use yard waste such as vegetable tops, dead or dying annuals, and fallen leaves.
  • ✔ Deep-feed tree roots.

  • ✔ Clear leaves from lawns and ground covers. Rake up pine needles and spread them as mulch for shrubs.
  • ✔ Give roses, trees, and hedges a final pruning.
  • ✔ Renew or replenish mulch on all shrubs. Break up any old, compacted mulch to allow air and water to reach the roots.
  • ✔ Add dead plants from the vegetable garden to the compost pile. Spread manure or compost in the garden, then turn the soil.
  • ✔ Until freezing temperatures set in, water plants well one morning a week to give them moisture to weather the winter.

  • ✔ Cover low shrubs with evergreen clippings; wrap medium-sized shrubs with burlap. Build a shelter over the plants that are near your house, to shield the branches from snow sliding off the roof.
  • ✔ Trim hollies and other broad-leaved evergreens.
  • ✔ Rake leaves from lawns and flower beds.

  • ✔ Check and repair protective coverings often and, after each snowstorm, gently shake the snow from shrub branches.
  • ✔ Take care not to shovel snow onto plants bordering walks and driveways.
  • ✔ After bad storms, cut broken shrub and tree branches. On mild days, finish pruning trees and shrubs that flowered in the late summer and fall.
  • Grasses for Any Climate

    This chart divides grasses into northern (cool season) and southern (warm season) varieties, each listed by common English name followed by botanical name. Details in the chart include: areas in which each grass grows best, keyed to the map on page 266; the optimal range of soil pH; the planting methods and preferred planting seasons; the amount of seed in pounds needed to sow an area of 1,000 square feet; and the ideal mowing height. The last column lists important attributes and the maintenance requirements of each variety.


    Kentucky Bluegrass

    Western Wheatgrass

    Bermuda Grass

    Buffalo Grass





    Where grasses grow best

    For the purpose of choosing a grass for a lawn, the United States is divided into six climatic zones. The boundaries of these regions are drawn according to environmental factors that are critical to grass health, primarily minimum winter and maximum summer temperatures and annual rainfall. Northern grasses generally do well in Zones 1 through 4; southern grasses generally prefer Zones 4, 5, and 6.

    Ground Covers

    This chart lists more than three dozen common ground covers by their English and Latin names, grouped according to foliage type—evergreen, deciduous, or semievergreen (plants that keep their leaves only where winters are mild). The zones in which each plant thrives, listed in the second column, are keyed to the map that appears on page 282. Semievergreen plants flourish widely but are green year round only in Zones 8 to 11. Plant height and methods of propagation are listed in the third and fourth columns. The last column notes a variety of special characteristics, such as ground covers that are well suited to slopes or rock gardens and any special light or soil requirements. All of the plants have green foliage and all flower or fruit, unless otherwise noted.


    Evergreen Candytuft

    Trailing African Daisy

    Spring Heath

    English IVY

    Japanese Pachysandra


    Silver Mound Artemesia

    Mauve Catmint


    Mondo Grass

    Moss Phlox


    Yard and Garden Trees

    This chart lists 79 small and medium-sized ornamental trees suitable for a garden, patio, or yard; 50 are deciduous, 14 are narrow-leafed evergreens, and 15 are broad-leafed evergreens. The first column gives the common English names of each tree in alphabetical order, followed by the botanical name; the second lists the geographical zone or zones in which each tree grows best (map, page 282). The third column gives the approximate height of a mature tree. Growth rates for trees vary, from less than 12 inches annually (slow), to 1 to 2 feet per year (moderate), to 3 feet or more a year (fast). Tree shapes sometimes differ within a single species, as listed in the Shape column. The Special Characteristics column includes other qualities, such as striking leaf color or unusual bark, which make trees distinctive; here, too, variations exist within a species. Also noted in this column are soil and sun requirements, and whether a tree produces flowers, fruit, or seeds. Inquire at a local nursery about trees that are native to your area; these species will flourish, because they have adapted to local conditions.


    European Mountain Ash

    Common Catalpa

    Yoshino Cherry

    Red Jade Crab Apple

    Flowering Dogwood

    Fringe Tree

    Washington Hawthorn

    Katsura tree

    Saucer Magnolia

    Japanese Maple

    California Black Oak

    Russian Olive

    Pissard Plum

    Japanese Cedar

    False Moss Sawara Cypress


    Japanese Black Pine

    English Holly


    Sweet Orange

    Pineapple Guava


    Garden Shrubs

    This chart lists 58 flowering shrubs by their common English names, followed by their botanical names. The numbered zones in which each shrub can be grown are keyed to the map on page 282. In the chart’s third column the approximate height for each variety is listed. Colored circles in the fourth column indicate the range of flower colors usually produced by each shrub or its relatives. To the right of the colors is the shrub’s blooming season. The Special Characteristics column contains uses to which the plant is well suited—a hedge or a ground cover, for example; its soil and sun preferences; and the presence of fruit, attractive foliage, or a pleasant fragrance.


    Exbury Hybrid Azalea

    Japanese Barberry

    Hybrid Broom

    Cornelian Cherry

    Bush Cinquefoil

    Horizontal Cotoneaster

    Crape Myrtle


    Common Lilac

    Lemoine Mock Orange

    Pussy Willow

    Hybrid Flowering Quince

    Marie’s Double File Viburnum

    Hybrid Weigela

    Chinese Witch Hazel

    This chart lists 20 evergreen shrubs by their common names, then by their botanical names. The numbered zones in which each shrub can be grown refer to the map on page 282. Special characteristics and growing conditions are mentioned in the last column; these include specific uses, such as a lawn specimen, hedge, screen, or ground cover; soil requirement; and whether the plant produces fruit, berries, or flowers.


    Laland Fire Thorn

    Gold Coast Juniper

    Mountain Laurel

    Dwarf Alberta Spruce

    Tea Tree

    Plants for Rock Gardens

    In the chart below, plants are listed by their most common English names, followed by their scientific Latin names. The second column indicates the climatic zone or zones in which each plant can be grown, keyed by number to the map on page 282. All of the plants flower, and a few plants have additional special traits. Bishop’s hat, fringed bleeding heart, and leadwort have distinctive foliage, while common thrift is an evergreen. Plant heights, listed in the next column, include the height of the flowers, and the fourth column indicates the blossoms’ range of colors. The Growth Habit column shows that most of these plants grow upright, but some grow either by spreading or by trailing from a central stem. Special soil and light conditions in which specific plants thrive appear in the last column.


    European Wood Anemone


    Evergreen Candytuft


    Dwarf Bearded Iris

    A Map of Minimum Temperatures

    A Map of Minimum Temperatures

    Plants and winter cold

    Successful landscaping depends upon a choice of plants that thrive on the land they adorn. Since soil conditions and moisture levels can usually be altered artificially, limitations on where plants will flourish depend largely upon the severity of winter cold. This map devised by the U.S. Department of Agriculture divides the United States into 11 numbered and colored zones, each distinguished by an average minimum winter temperature. Use the charts of ground covers (pages 267-269), flowering shrubs (pages 275-278), and rock-garden plants (page 280) with this map to select plants that will grow best in your area.