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Plants in Chicago: What Your Garden Is Missing

Is your yard looking a little sad? Is your garden not thriving like you’d hoped it would? With some research into what planting zone is Chicago in, some focus on native plants, and some TLC, your garden can be the star of the neighborhood. Gardening is more than just picking whatever plants look pretty. It requires knowledge about the climate, which types of plants will thrive, and how to care for them. Luckily, the team of professionals at Arbeen Landscaping has the knowledge of plants in Chicago needed to grow a perfect garden. 

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The Climate in Chicago 

When choosing plants in Chicago, it’s important to take into consideration the climate of the city, and the suburbs. Climate can determine why types of plants will thrive in a garden, what plants will perish, and when they should be planted. Chicago has a continental climate, as indicated by its cold, windy winters and hot summers. Any year-round plants need to be able to withstand the changes of the seasons and the shifts in temperature. 

Remember that even if a plant is alive year-round, that doesn’t mean it looks the same year-round. Many flowering shrubs, bushes, and trees bloom in the spring and look much less lively in the winter. However, they’re hardy and strong and won’t require you to plant something new every spring. Year-round plants can be low maintenance, so long as they can withstand the climate. How can you determine their climate compatibility? Check Chicago’s planting zone.

What Planting Zone is Chicago? 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) designates specific planting zones across the country. These zones, based on climate, help farmers and home gardeners alike determine which plants will thrive in their area. The Plant Hardiness zone map is based on the average annual minimum winter temperature. Illinois stretches across five different zones. But what planting zone is Chicago in? The city of Chicago’s planting zone is 6a, however, the suburbs and surrounding area are in zone 5b. The 6a planting zone Chicago is in indicated a minimum winter temperature of -10 to -5 degrees Fahrenheit. The 5b zone of the suburbs means a minimum winter temperature of -15 to -10 degrees. USDA Zone 6a generally has a growing season from late April until early October, but you should start planning your garden before the growing season starts. 

What are Illinois Native Plants? 

The best option for any garden is to use native plants. Illinois native plants in an Illinois garden benefit the wildlife, other plant life, and any human beings in the area. Native plants generally require less maintenance, including the use of any chemical pesticides, making them easier to care for and healthier for the people and pets around them. Native plants help maintain the habitats of native species of birds, butterflies, and other wildlife that may be losing their habitat to foreign species of plants. 

Luckily, there is a variety of gorgeous Illinois native plants that would thrive in a Chicago area garden. These include flowering plants like butterfly weed, which isn’t actually a weed, but a beautiful blooming plant that will attract butterflies. Marsh marigolds will add some bright color to your garden and also attract butterflies. Purple Poppy Mallows also add color and thrives in sunlight. In addition to butterflies, these flowers also attract hummingbirds. 

There are shrubs including the oakleaf hydrangea, a perennial that is generally pretty hardy but will require pretty moist soil, native to Illinois. Weigela is another bush that is pretty easy to care for and grows in sun or shade. Native plants in Chicago include multiple varieties of oak trees, which are great for shade and privacy. 

To make a garden more than just visually appealing, consider planting some vegetables or other edible plants. Chicago’s planting zone is great for a variety of vegetables including tomatoes, eggplants, peppers that can be started indoors, and radishes and lettuce that are more cool weather crops. Growing vegetables can be a fun project, and you’ll get to enjoy the rewards of fresh veggies.

retaining wallHow to Plan Your Chicago Garden 

While it would be easy to pick plants for your garden simply based on which ones are the prettiest, there’s more to it. Determining the best Chicago plants for the growing zone is step one, but that doesn’t really narrow down your options. Researching different types of gardens, both in design and plant life, can help you plan your own. Some gardens are more formal, some more wild, and some are designed to replicate a specific environment such as a meadow. If you have a specific style of garden in mind, that will help figure out what plants your Chicago garden needs. 

In addition to growing zones and the general Chicago climate, garden planning also involves looking into your specific environment. How much sun does your yard receive? Where is the shady area, shadowed by the house? Are there any potential wildlife intruders such as deer and rabbits that you’ll need to worry about? If you have a dog or even outdoor cats, be aware of any plants that could be harmful. 

Determining your garden style, growing zone, and any specific needs will help you plan the best plants in Chicago to grow. It’s hard to go wrong with native plants, and adding in some vegetables can be a great reward for your work. Planning your garden space ahead of the growing season means you are sure to have an excellent garden. 

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Trust Arbeen Landscaping

If you want professional advice on which Chicago plants are ideal for your space, or want to leave the planting up to the professionals, check out Arbeen Landscaping. Our professional team serves the Chicago area, including the suburbs. Working with a landscaping team not only ensures your garden is perfect for the environment, but also frees up your time and eliminates some of the stress that can come with any type of landscaping or home project. 

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