Trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals are sold on size. Buy small ones, add a dash of patience, and you'll have some great looking landscape in a few years. Plus, you'll save a bundle.
Mature perennials sold in containers can cost at least twice as much as their younger counterparts. If you choose really young perennials, you may have to wait a year before you see some blooms, and perhaps another year before they're fully grown.
Buying young annual flowers and vegetables is a better deal, because they establish more quickly than mature plants. Make sure you choose ones that haven't bloomed yet. In a few months, they'll give you more satisfaction than the mature plants would.
You're at the store and you see a lovely plant that would look perfect in your yard. Don't just judge it by its looks. Dig a little deeper. Turn the plant on its side and gently tug it out of the container. You're looking for a full set of roots that fill the pot. If the plant is root-bound, better take a pass on it.
When you pull a plant out of its container, and you see thick, woody roots with only a few white tips, you may be looking at trouble. Potbound plants have been left in their containers too long. They're stunted and tend not to grow vigorously when you plant them.
Nurseries buy trees in the winter, and these trees have exposed roots. This saves shipping costs, and the savings are passed on to you. The trees are stored in wet sawdust until the warm weather arrives. They are then put in containers and offered for sale.
Are you willing to spend what it takes to get an established look quickly? Or are you able to wait a few years for your younger plants to fill out? Either way, taking a few steps to make sure you're buying healthy container plants is the best way to create a lush, beautiful yard.