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Pennsylvania Landscaping Tips & Ideas | State College, PA

Are you looking to spruce up your outdoor space? Perhaps you're thinking of creating a simple garden retreat you can go to enjoy nature and the outdoors. Or, you could be considering an extreme makeover for your outdoor space.


Well, whatever landscaping project you're thinking of undergoing, we can help! We'll provide you with specific Pennsylvania landscaping tips and ideas to make your garden thrive and look stunning all year round.


Key Takeaways


  • Understanding your local climate and soil type is crucial for successful Pennsylvania landscaping.

  • Incorporating native plants enhances sustainability and supports local ecosystems.

  • Seasonal planning and responsible plant selection ensure year-round garden interest and environmental health.


Understanding Pennsylvania's Landscape


Monongahela River and bridge in Pennsylvania

Jumping into a landscaping project in Pennsylvania is like opening a door to endless possibilities. There are so many combinations of plant and tree varieties you can use to make your space look good, but you have to know the land first. Knowing the lay of the land—literally—makes all the difference because it shapes our gardening choices.


Know the local climate and soil


Pennsylvania has a mix of climates that varies from the chill of the Poconos to the warmer valleys. This variety means what works in one yard might not in another, which makes understanding your specific climate zone crucial.


The soil underfoot plays a big role, too. From the rich loams in some areas to the rocky, clay-filled soils in others, Pennsylvania has it all. Matching your plant choices and care strategies to your soil type is a game-changer for any garden.


Here are tips to find out:


To find out your climate zone: Pennsylvania spans several USDA hardiness zones, which can guide you on what plants will survive and flourish in your area. A quick search on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map with your ZIP code can tell you exactly where you fall.


To find out your soil type: Soil testing is like a health check-up for your garden. It can provide valuable insights into the soil type you're working with—be it loam, clay, or sand—and its pH level. Kits are available at local nurseries or through your county's cooperative extension office.


Choose Native Plants for Sustainability


Eastern Redbud trees in a park

After you find out your local climate and soil type, you can finally turn your attention to the trees, shrubs, and plants you'll be planting in your yard.


If you can, opt for native plants. Native plants are like old friends to local wildlife and the environment. They require less fuss, are better for the bees and butterflies, and keep the local ecosystem humming better than non-native plants.


Incorporate responsible landscaping techniques, too—think water conservation and natural pest solutions. Not only will you create less environmental impact this way, but you can also save more money. Sustainable landscaping means fewer fees for care and maintenance work.


While the best solution for planting your yard is to consult with your local nursery or landscaping company, we can start you in the right direction with these plants that can grow across zones 5, 6, and 7 (Pennsylvania's hardiness zones):


Trees: Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) for spring blooms and Red Maple (Acer rubrum) for stunning fall color.


Shrubs: Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia), Pennsylvania’s state flower, thrives in shade, while the Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia) offers fragrant summer flowers and attracts pollinators.


Perennials: Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) adds a splash of late-summer color, and the Rough-stemmed goldenrod (Solidago rugosa) is both drought-tolerant and a pollinator favorite.


Ferns and groundcovers: Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) provides year-round greenery, and the native Pennsylvania Sedge (Carex pensylvanica) is excellent for low-maintenance lawns or ground cover.


Incorporating Non-Native Plants (Responsibly!)


Woman picking out a flowering plant from her local nursery

Adding non-native plants to your Pennsylvania garden can be both exciting and beneficial, provided it's done with care and consideration for the local ecosystem. They can add diversity, color, and interest to any garden.


Here's how to make sure your garden is a stage for harmony and not conflict.


Choose non-native plants wisely: The main thing to remember when including non-native plants is selecting species that play well with others. Look for those that are well-behaved and don't aggressively spread.


Your local nursery or a knowledgeable landscaping service can guide you toward plants that have a track record of adapting well without overtaking the local flora.


Steer clear of invasives: The most critical step in responsible non-native plant landscaping is avoiding invasive species at all costs. Invasive plants can quickly escape your garden, spreading to natural areas where they outcompete native plants, disrupt local wildlife habitats, and alter ecosystems.

Pennsylvania's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources provides fact sheets regarding invasive species.


Create a balanced garden: Incorporating non-native plants into your garden offers a chance to create a unique and diverse landscape. By mixing non-invasive, non-native plants with native species, you can design a garden that's resilient, attracts a variety of pollinators, and provides year-round interest.


Consider the overall environment of your garden to select non-native plants that will thrive without becoming a threat.


Contribution to biodiversity: When chosen carefully, non-native plants can contribute to your garden's biodiversity by offering shelter and food for different wildlife species. Some non-native plants can serve specific roles, such as providing nectar for butterflies or caterpillars when native options are scarce, as long as they don't outcompete the native offerings.


Designing Landscapes for Pennsylvania's Seasons


The same three shown in four different seasons

Crafting a landscape that keeps your outdoor space lively and colorful through all four seasons in Pennsylvania is like painting a moving picture that evolves with time. You should anticipate the shifts in the weather and choose plants that will stand out and complement each other from spring to winter.

Here's how to achieve that picturesque year-round landscape.


Spring: Spring in Pennsylvania is a rebirth of color. To capture this in your garden, start with early bloomers like Spicebush and Columbines, which signal the end of winter with their vibrant hues. Pair them with perennial favorites like the Eastern Redbud tree, whose pink-purple flowers are a springtime showstopper.


Summer: As the temperatures rise, ensure your garden continues to thrive and entertain. Native perennials like the Summer Phlox and Culver's Root not only add bursts of color but also attract pollinators.


Incorporating ornamental grasses, like Little Bluestem, can add texture and movement to your landscape, creating a dynamic view that changes with the breeze.


Autumn: Fall in Pennsylvania is famous for its rich palette of reds, oranges, and yellows. Red maples and Silky dogwoods provide dramatic foliage changes.


Winter: Preparing for winter doesn't mean accepting a dull garden. Evergreens like the American holly add structure and color, while the bark of Yellow birch trees can add interest to a snowy landscape.

Don't forget about winter-blooming plants like Witch Hazel, which can provide unexpected flowers even in the coldest months.


Prep for the seasons


Transitioning your garden through the seasons requires some preparation. In the fall, mulch your perennials to protect them from freezing temperatures.


Consider strategic plant placements, like placing sensitive plants in areas shielded from harsh winds or using hardscaping features to create microclimates that can extend your growing season.


Creating a garden that offers year-round interest in Pennsylvania is all about diversity and timing. By selecting a mix of plants that peak at different times of the year, you ensure there's always something catching the eye.


And with a little preparation, you can minimize winter's impact and set the stage for a stunning rebirth come spring.


Start Crafting Your Pennsylvania Garden Masterpiece


Looking to infuse life into your garden or yard with a touch of Pennsylvania's natural charm? If you don't have the time to do it yourself, Landscape II stands ready to transform your outdoor area into a living masterpiece.


Don't let the changing seasons leave your outdoor space feeling lackluster. With our knowledge of local climate zones, soil types, and sustainable landscaping practices, we're here to ensure your garden is a year-round haven for you and local wildlife.


Schedule a free consultation with us or contact us at (814) 466-7955 to learn more about our landscaping services. Let's work together to make your Pennsylvania landscape the most beautiful it's ever been!


Frequently Asked Questions


What is a professional landscaper?


A professional landscaper is an expert in designing, implementing, and maintaining outdoor spaces, combining knowledge of horticulture, architecture, and environmental sustainability to transform any area into a functional and aesthetically pleasing landscape.


They are skilled in working with the natural features of the land, selecting appropriate plants, and constructing hardscapes to meet the specific needs and desires of homeowners and communities, ensuring the outdoor environment is both beautiful and sustainable.


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