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The 10 Most Popular Plants for Landscape Design in Richmond, VA

Water and Earth is a premiere landscape design company serving clients in the greater Richmond, VA area. And while our focus is on the broader design of custom outdoor living spaces, landscaping is still an integral part of that process. We use a large variety of plants in our landscape designs, but there are certain varieties that show up again and again. It should come as no surprise that many of these recurring plants would find themselves on a list of the most popular plants in Richmond, VA.

Today, we want to talk about 10 of the most popular plants in the Richmond area, and why they are so popular. While no landscaping plan is one-size fits all, when you find a selection of plants that look great, thrive in your planting region, and fit perfectly in a custom design, they tend to make many appearances. That said, here are ten of the most popular plants used in landscape design here in Richmond.

1. Boxwoods (Buxus sempervirens)

Buxus sempervirens

Boxwoods, or Buxus sempervirens, are known for their classic, evergreen appearance with dense, dark green foliage. They are mainstays in landscape design for many reasons, one of the most prominent being their use in “green fences”, or privacy plantings. Boxwoods are loved for their versatility, and can be customized for use in natural fencing, or trimmed into a variety of hedges, topiaries, or stand alone shrubs. These plants thrive here in Richmond, and require partial to full sunlight and well-drained soil. Homeowners love them as they are relatively low-maintenance, aside from regular watering and pruning as desired.

2. Azalea (Rhododendron)

Nothing screams spring in Richmond, VA like a stunning spring display of Azaleas, also known as Rhododendron. Azaleas are synonymous with the area, and are prized for their vibrant, showy blooms in various colors like pink, purple, and white. Unlike sun-loving Boxwoods, Azaleas prefer partial shade. They are incredibly popular in Richmond landscape designs for their ability to thrive in the region's acidic soil, and provide a beautiful pop of color that offers a true sense of place for homeowners.

3. Nandina (Nandina domestica)

Nandina domestica

Nandina, or Nandina domestica, is also called heavenly bamboo. This plant is popular in Richmond as it offers year-round interest. From its delicate, lacy foliage and white spring flowers, to bright red berries in the fall and winter there’s something to love about this plant during almost any month. While plants like Rhododendron bloom once a year in spring, Nandina allows backyard designs to benefit from natural color when the rest of the landscape is dormant. Nandinas can tolerate a range of sunlight, from full sun to partial shade, and thrive in well-drained soil.

4. Otto Luyken Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus)

Prunus laurocerasus

Otto Luyken Laurel, or Prunus laurocerasus, is an evergreen shrub with glossy, deep green leaves. It's frequently used in Richmond landscape designs for its attractive appearance and versatility in landscaping. These plants are hardy, and prefer to be planted in well-drained soil and provided with partial to full sun. They stand up well to full sun and our local heat, but should be watered regularly. In terms of landscape design purposes, laurel works well as a hedge, screen, or as an accent plant, meaning there’s almost always a place for it when putting together planting plans.

5. Knockout Rose (Rosa hybrida 'Radrazz')

Rosa hybrida

Knockout Roses are also known by their latin name of Rosa hybrida ‘Radrazz’. These flowering beauties are renowned for their continuous blooming throughout the growing season. From vibrant reds and pinks, to mood-boosting yellows, the wide range of color options mean that they fit well within a wide range of color palettes and designs. Single bushes can be used to break up swaths of green, or they can be planted side by side in hedges for a wall of yearly blooms. Knockout Roses do well in Richmond weather, and prefer full sun and regular watering.

6. Stella D’oro Daylily (Hemerocallis 'Stella de Oro')

Hemerocallis 'Stella de Oro'

Stella D’oro Daylilies are best known for their charming, golden-yellow blooms. Like Knockout Roses, they have long flowering periods that make them frequent flyers in intelligent landscape designs. Daylilies can be mixed with other border plants or places in mixed beds for additional color and visual texture.

7. Hosta (Hosta plantaginea)

Hosta plantaginea

In the world of landscaping, hostas, or Hosta plantaginea, are workhorses. They are hands off perennials that are happy to fill in shady areas that other plants might not love. Whether it’s a dark corner of your backyard or the base of a large tree, they offer reliable ground coverage and are beautifully low-maintenance. All this considered, hostas are also great to look at, and offer lush, variegated foliage and summer blooms.

8. Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)

Hydrangea macrophylla

Like Azaleas, you can’t complete a list of popular plants in Richmond, VA without mentioning Hydrangeas. In fact, Virginia even has its own native variety of Hydrangeas called the Annabelle Hydrangea. These plants, with their large, showy blooms, are chameleons of the planting world. Their signature flowers change color based on the soil pH, but all varieties are beautiful. While Hydrangeas aren’t high maintenance, they do prefer consistently damp soil. In designs, they work well as stand alone shrubs or mixed in with other border plantings.

9. Liriope (Liriope muscari)

Liriope muscari

Liriope, or Lireiope muscari, is also known as monkey grass. It is loved in Richmond for its grass-like foliage and spikes of purple or white flowers. Despite the name and its appearance, it is not in the grass family. Rather, it is a herbaceous flowering perennial plant that makes itself very useful as tough, durable ground cover. It can thrive in both full sun and partial shade and is adaptable to various soil types. The low-lying profile of this plant makes it useful for creating additional texture and dimension within a planting plan, while also providing hard-to-kill ground cover and greenery to homeowners.

10. Blue Rug Juniper (Juniperus horizontalis)

Juniperus horizontalis

Speaking of plants that are great for ground cover, the last plant on our list is Blue Rug Juniper, also called Juniperus horizontalis. As the name suggests, Blue Rug Juniper is a low-growing evergreen with silvery-blue foliage. Its drought tolerance and ability to spread make it popular in Richmond as well as in planting plans as it is a rare plant that is functional as well as beautiful. Due to its spreading nature and large root system, this species is effective for yards where erosion control is a concern. For best success, plant it in full sun and water sparingly once established.

Explore More Landscape Design in Richmond, VA

For a closer look at finished backyard spaces featuring plants from this list, check out the blog or follow us over on Instagram. From great landscaping to custom backyard builds, Water and Earth can design your dream outdoor living space.

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