Habit #2 for Highly Successful Plantings

Ilona Erwin

Steve Covey wrote a book called “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and habit #2 says:

“Begin with the End in Mind.”

Coincidentally I was reading a post from C.L. Fornari about the wrong plant in the wrong place, which sparked my regrets of planting some very large viburnum plants where they constantly crowd my driveway.

Then this quote came into my consciousness: Begin with the End in Mind. How often had I read that as a young gardener? Many times. Yet, time passes and without reminders (for it isn’t a common piece of garden advice, nowadays) I found that I have fallen into the circle of wrong plant/wrong place, but love the plant too much to get rid of it.

Viburnums are always choice plants, but they can be badly placed…which makes it all the more difficult to correct. They get large and the prospect of transplanting is not only a daunting task, but risks the loss of the plant. I can’t bring myself to destroy the plants, and moving my now large shrubs is quite an onerous task at this point.

So I looked at this habit that ‘Highly Successful’ people have, and thought, “What a great habit to keep in mind when planting shrubs and trees, or any major gardening project!”.

What is the end product desired when planting something in the garden? Surely not yearly struggles with maintenance, or irritating situations with crowding, or branches that catch, or thorny plants in the wrong place, etc. Instead, looking ahead to the end of five or ten years, maybe more, when plants and gardens are more mature…. do they still serve with good purpose? Well placed, intelligently planned, and regularly cared for plantings are worth the wait, and outshine the quick “rewards” of those that grow too fast and get awkwardly unwieldy for our home landscapes.

Look Where You Are Going

How to plan well

flowernotes: Read and take notes about the ultimate width and height of the plant (especially trees).

flowernotes: Gather cultivation information and take into account how much maintenance the choice takes, and what advice is given for garden use. Again, record the information in a central place like a garden journal.

flowernotes: Visit Arboretums. I can’t think of a better place to see firsthand how a plant looks, grows, and is best used than in public parks and arboretums. The trees and shrubs, and often many plants of different types, are all labeled clearly; planting information is often available, through seminars, courses, and libraries connected with the arboretums, as well.


Such planning and visualization doesn’t need to be involved and time consuming. Lists of trees and plants for specific situations, and the widely available, easily read plant profiles giving heights, widths, hardiness, and cultural information makes it a simple task. Take just a few minutes to develop your own habit towards creating highly successful plantings in your yard.


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Ilona Erwin, author

Meet the Author

Ilona Erwin

I started working on this website beginning in 1998, when it was part of Ilona's Reflecting Pool. Since then I've branched out into a number of online endeavors and work at writing lots of content for my sites. "Ilona's Garden" remains my primary site and is dedicated to home gardener's success.