Our picks for the very best bulbs, greens, trees, and more to set out now for a vibrant garden come spring
For an easy-care garden, native plants are the natural choice. Many tolerate drought once their roots are established. Unless your soil is compacted and drains poorly, don’t bother amending it before planting—most of these plants adapted to native soils long ago. And forget fertilizer; they rarely need it.
Many are rich in nectar or seeds that attract birds and butterflies, and some smell like the aromatic wild shrubs fringing your favorite hiking trails. All give the garden a sense of place. Use them to create an all-native backyard ecosystem mimicking your region’s indigenous plant communities, or mix natives with compatible plants that take the same conditions.
Start with young container-grown plants that aren’t rootbound; they may not be much to look at when first planted, but they’ll adapt more successfully than larger plants. Water thoroughly after planting, then carefully and steadily for the first summer or two. After that, many should do well with little or no supplemental water.