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A Guide to the Best Plants for Landscaping in 2024

Are you planning to upgrade your landscaping in the new year? Click here for a guide to the best plants for landscaping in 2024.
A Guide to the Best Plants for Landscaping in 2024

Whether landscaping increases the value of your Chicago home is still under debate, but it’s proven that 98% of homeowners think it does, especially when undertaken by a professional team. 

Regardless of any ROI you realize from landscaping your garden, there’s no doubt that green spaces and beautiful blooms will add enjoyment to your outdoor leisure time and boost your home’s curb appeal.

Besides, you’ll have a lot of fun when you work with a team of professional landscapers to plan the perfect designs and explore trendy landscaping ideas for your outdoor spaces.

Read on to discover the best plants for landscaping and how they can make your garden ‘pop’.

Easy-Care Landscaping Plants Suited to Chicago

Native plants are always best for Chicago residential landscaping. These species are adapted to the climate of Illinois and provide sustenance for the insects and small animals found in this environment.

Chicago’s planting zone can get as cold as -15 degrees in winter, so it makes sense to choose plants that can stand up to these temperatures. It’s the best way to ensure your garden looks gorgeous all year round.

These are some of the best low-maintenance plants to include in your landscaping renovation if you want to enjoy a fuss-free garden:

Abelias

Abelias are hardy in U.S. zones 6 to 9 and make a colorful addition to any Chicago garden. Abelia Kaleidoscope is one variety that maintains its attractive appearance year-round.

These evergreen shrubs bear small white flowers in the late spring. The plant’s red stems bear yellow-gold leaves that turn an orange-red color in the fall.

Abelias grow up to 3 feet high and 4 feet wide, so they make a great hedge or border. Their brilliant colors make them perfect in the role of accent plants, too, and you can train them to become a ground cover.

The plants do best in full sun or partially shady spots; they tolerate drought and are impervious to the attention of deer.

They prefer moist, well-drained, fertile, slightly acidic soil, but they’re known to thrive in all soil types and require little in the way of care. You can prune them in the late winter or early spring to stop them from spreading too much.

Oakleaf Hydrangea

Oakleaf hydrangeas are another excellent option for a hedge. They have broad, six-fingered dark green leaves and bear large, pretty clusters of creamy white, pyramidal flowers during the summer.

In winter, the bark exfoliates, providing an eye-catching contrast to the orange, gold, crimson, and bronze leaves. This is a medium-sized plant that grows up to six feet tall, and it thrives in zones 5 to 9.

It’s not fussy about whether you plant it in the sun or shade, and it is impervious to most insects and diseases. During particularly dry spells, you can add a layer of mulch to the base of the plants to help retain moisture, but they require no other maintenance.

These native plants are good for attracting pollinators to your garden, too.

Butterfly Weed

This is a type of milkweed plant and the only host plant for the endangered monarch butterfly. It’s also perfect for adding a bit of drama to your landscaping.

These clump-forming perennials bear striking, bright yellow or orange flower clusters amid glossy green lance-shaped leaves in the early spring and are exceptionally easy to care for. They’re happy in any soil type, including clay, rocky, or dry soil, and are drought-resistant.

This Illinois native is at home in zones 3 to 9 and grows to 2.5 feet tall.

If you’re planting it from scratch, you may have to wait up to three years before it flowers, but the wait will prove worthwhile.

The Best Trees for Chicago Landscaping

All but the smallest gardens can benefit from a few trees; they’re essential for combating urban heat islands and improving air quality near cities. These are some of the most attractive options to include in your Chicago landscape:

Witch Hazel

Witch hazel trees are a fantastic addition to a landscaped garden and perfect for providing winter color. Their attractive foliage comprises large, wide leaves with rounded teeth around the edges.

The leaves turn yellow in the fall, and the witch hazel is usually the last tree to bloom in the fall. At this time, pale yellow flowers with four narrow leaves appear in clusters in place of the leaves.

Witch hazel also produces a capsule-like fruit with dark seeds that opens in the fall when the flowers bloom. Each capsule takes a year to mature.

These trees are easy to care for and can tolerate a wide range of climates and soil types. Birds and butterflies love these trees and use them for shelter and sustenance.

Black Cherry

The largest of Illinois’ native cherry trees, this species provides year-round interest in your garden and attracts caterpillars, songbirds, and insects.

In the spring, its boughs explode with glorious white blooms, while the summer sees it adorned in green foliage and deep purple fruit. During the fall, the black cherry is resplendent in orange-red leaves.

Black cherries favor full sun and loamy soils but also tolerate average soils. You must take care to protect this plant from aphids, Japanese beetles, and spider mites.

These striking trees can grow up to 80 feet tall, so they’re best for large gardens.

Black Haw

This highly ornamental tree grows well in zones 3 to 9 and is native to Illinois. It’s a small tree that can grow to 20 feet tall and provides three seasons of color for your garden.

In the spring, it bears flat-topped clusters of creamy white flowers en masse, which it holds aloft above its foliage. During the fall, the leaves turn to satisfying shades of deep reds and purples, accompanied by purplish-black berries, which are favored by birds and pretty tasty for humans, too.

It’s always best to have two of these trees for the most dramatic displays and abundant fruit harvests. They work well together as a hedge, or you can use one as a focal point in your garden, especially if you prune it into an attractive shape.

This is a drought-tolerant tree that thrives in urban environments.

Groundcovers for Continuity in Your Landscaping

Careful use of groundcovers prevents any unsightly sandy spots from marring your landscaping efforts. Ground covers also help retain moisture in your soil and restrict the growth of weeds.

Consider these options for your Chicago garden; they’re all suited to zones 5 and 6:

Wild Ginger

Also known as Canadian Wild Ginger, this plant is perfect for adding texture and interest to your garden beds. It grows to only four inches high and spreads into colonies that fill up the bare patches between your plants.

Each plant bears two heart-shaped leaves growing densely together and bears a single striking brown and white flower at ground level below the leaves. The plant spreads through its fleshy rootstock to create a dense network of adjacent specimens.

It prefers a shady environment and is good for attracting butterflies to your yard, although ants disperse the flower seed.

Sweet Woodruff

This is an exceptionally pretty, rapidly spreading mat-forming perennial. It carries lovely clusters of white, star-shaped flowers in the springtime and has lance-shaped, dark green leaves with a pleasant fragrance.

It is easy to grow sweet woodruff as it adapts readily to most soil types and has little need for water. It’s deer-resistant and rabbit-proof, and it doesn’t appear to suffer from insect attacks.

Sweet woodruff prefers shade and thrives when planted under trees. Direct sunlight can scorch its delicate leaves.

Be sure to plant it where you can keep it under control, as it’s so easy to grow that it can become invasive. Other common names for this groundcover include bedstraw, sweet baby’s breath, and woodruff.

Dead Nettle

Despite its unattractive name, this plant bears striking variegated leaves that add interest to otherwise boring spaces in between your featured plants.

Different species of dead nettles have interesting leaf colorations, from variegated light and dark green colors to white stripes and spots on light green leaves. They spread easily and look best when growing en masse amongst colorful flowers and ferns or against a gentle slope.

Due to its hardy nature, it’s a good transition plant for areas that transition from shade to sun. It’s drought-resistant but prefers moist conditions.

Deer, rabbits, and pests leave this plant alone, so you needn’t worry about them creating unsightly bare patches in your flower beds.

Get Help Choosing the Best Plants for Landscaping

With decades of experience in the industry, Arbeen Landscaping is the top choice for assistance with landscaping your Chicago home or business.

We are passionate about creating beautiful, customized spaces for our clients and well-informed about the plants best suited to local zones. Our services include landscaping, lawn care, snow removal, and paving.

Our expert landscaping team will help you discover the best plants for landscaping in your area and work with you on a design that perfectly matches your expectations. Get in touch and take the first step toward creating the outdoor spaces of your dreams.

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