Don’t Feel Squeezed

By Jim Sollecito

Don’t clamp down on your landscape planting now.
Don’t clamp down on your landscape planting now.

Indeed, it is that time of year again. 

Summer is over. We are wondering whether we enjoyed it. The weather went sideways a few times. 

Abnormally dry heat waves alternated with record rainfall and flash floods. Kind of like leaving a restaurant wondering if the chicken died in vain. But, really, no matter. 

Autumn is long and luxurious and great for getting things done. 

Sights and smells are fresh again after the long uncomfortably sticky summer days. And you can save by doing your landscape improvements now instead of waiting until spring. Spring 2022 prices have already risen significantly and we aren’t even there yet. Besides, fall is an invigorating time. After touting a new introduction all season, I love pushing a sharp shovel into the ground to add that improved plant variety to my own home. Now, it’s my turn.

Figuring out what to plant is almost as much fun as where to plant it. I like to contemplate a bit before I actually do it. I subscribe to the 6 P approach: Proper Planning Prevents Pretty Poor Performance. During the process I sometimes talk to myself and we both laugh.

One objective of landscape design is to draw attention to the front entry. Maybe even paint the door a brighter, bolder color. Another good solution is to determine that time when a landscape appears less interesting. Then add a newer plant with better features, delightfully filling the color gap. It is never a good technique to add artificially colored waste-wood masquerading as mulch. All this accomplishes is to draw attention to the ground instead of the house. Yikes.  

You may not need a complete revamp. Small things can make a big impact. Notable achievements are often contingent on the subtle tweaks. Note how the extremely colorful Hardy Hibiscus in the photo complements the old carpenter clamps that I found in the garage. 

The average lifespan of landscape plantings is approximately 16 years. House paint is half that. Both can really influence how you feel from the minute you look out your window every morning and again later when you drive back into your own driveway. 

We learned during the pandemic that even little things make us feel better. If your plants don’t make you giddy or inspired or hopeful or serene or comforted or some other positive emotion, then maybe it’s time for a change. My favorite time of year is right now, since conditions allow roots to grow right through winter, establishing plants well ahead of those you might plant in the spring.

So don’t let your gray matter go to sleep. Evoke an emotional response. Find something to inspire you. Take it home and improve your own piece of the planet. Constant improvement beats delayed perfection every time. Right now is the time to make good things happen.

Jim Sollecito is the first lifetime senior certified landscape professional in NYS. He operates Sollecito Landscaping Nursery in Syracuse. Contact him at 468-1142 or