January 28, 2021 4 min read

Plants come in a seemingly endless range of colours, textures and quirks, so choosing the right ones can be a challenging, especially in a country as big as ours with a huge diversity of climate types. We often get calls from green thumbs who need a bit of a hand working out what the right choice is for their needs.

Here’s our guide to help you get going. Happy planting! 

Preparation is key

Considering what the mature size of your plant will be during the design phase of gardening will save you time and money in the long term. One of the most common garden design mistakes we see are over planted gardens with too many plants for the space or plant types that are going to easily outgrow the garden area quickly.

Plants also grow with different habits or behaviours, so it’s worth considering whether they will crawl, what shape the will grow to and their mature appearance. 

Big pot, little pot

We’re often asked why the big jump in pricing from a small pot size to the next larger size. The answer is in the length of time caring for the plant to a greater state of maturity.

The value in choosing the larger size up is that our amazing, high quality plant specialists have nurtured the plant to a greater maturity and therefore it’s somewhat less fragile than a seedling to transplant and care for. And it’s more attractive in your garden from the outset! 

Climate considerations

Before you start checking out plants and getting dazzled by something beautiful, it’s important to first consider the climate you live in. This is not just the climate of the region you live in, but the unique climate of your garden. Your climate at home is known as a “microclimate”.

To figure out your garden’s microclimate, carefully observe the following in your garden:

  • Aspect – what direction does your garden area predominately face?
  • Amount of sunlight or shade the garden gets (the aspect affects this)
  • Wind levels
  • Slope and drainage
  • Soil types

These factors determine your garden’s exact microclimate. After you’ve done a bit of observation on climate, you can make a shortlist of which plants will thrive in the unique environment you have.  

Shortcut: Take a look around your neighbourhood at gardens you like which appear to be flourishing as they’re a good indicator of what will thrive in yours.

Ongoing maintenance 

Unless gardening is going to be your full-time obsession, it’s worth being mindful of the maintenance work plants will create for you when choosing plants. Before you finish your plant choosing process, review the items on your purchase list and assess the level of maintenance each plant will need long term. 

Compare this with the level of maintenance that you have time for as the garden owner and are prepared to invest in your garden. Like getting a new puppy, the novelty of ‘feeding and watering’ could wear off. Take it easy if you’re just starting out in the garden.

Plant maintenance to do list: 

  • How much watering they need (especially important if you’re on tank water)
  • Frequency of feeding and pruning needed
  • Their level of resilience to drought, disease, and insects – a native garden can be excellent Australian conditions
  • How they will survive if you go on a long holiday OR who will take care of your precious plants

Look and feel

If you want a low-maintenance garden, choose perennial plants and low-care architectural plants like succulents, and hardy grasses as they need minimal irrigation and are less messy.

With a huge range of interesting, hardy and colourful plants available to choose from, gardening with succulents and grasses can be deeply rewarding and not at all boring. This garden style is one of the most popular we’re asked for advice on. 

Different plants have different textures too, so keep this in mind during the design phase of your garden before you choose plants. Textures can make a huge difference on how the finished garden looks and feels. Some examples of what I mean when I say texture are:

  • Shape and size of leaves (skies the limit!)
  • Thickness of the leaves (chunky or slim)
  • Density of plant foliage (clumping vs. sparse)

TOP TIP:  Use contrasting textures to highlight feature plants.


Just a small group colourful plants here and there (potted or in ground) each side of an area can be a beautiful feature and make your garden feel vibrant and engaging when done with the right colourful plants like Cordylines and Azaleas. This colour when strategically an planted in a focal position can make a huge difference to the overall finish and appearance of your garden design.

Nursery Sunshine Coast

Start your plant research or make a purchase now

We make choosing and buying plants super simple. Visit our Sunshine Coast nursery online shop and we'll deliver them directly from the nursery to your home or worksite. We service South East Queensland, Northern NSW and beyond.    

Need more advice? If you have questions about plants and planting conditions, get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to share our top tips and expert advice.