Whether you have a small space, a large entryway, a grand patio and outdoor living area, or just a space that needs sprucing up, plants can make a world of difference, adding pops of color, unique texture, and interesting elements to your Chicagoland landscape.

But there are so many options out there, which makes choosing the best plants for your space overwhelming. You certainly don’t want to install plants that don’t do well in your space or are the wrong fit for your goals and vision.

Let’s talk about how to choose the right plants for your landscape and what factors you must watch out for to ensure success.

How to Pick the Right Plants for Your Landscaping

No one said choosing landscaping plants was easy, but we can certainly make it simpler for you.

While there are a lot of great options out there, the biggest priority is matching your needs and space requirements to the plants that fit them best.

Here are some priorities to consider so you can make the best choice every time.

Consider Sun Exposure, Soil Condition, and Water

While you may love certain landscaping plants in Illinois, you have to choose the plants that fit the location best in order to guarantee survival.

How much sun exposure your plants receive will certainly help or hurt their growth.

backyard patio with lots of plantings in shade

Follow these tips:

  • If your location gets six hours of direct sun, choose landscaping plants for full sun.
  • If your planting area gets three to six hours of direct sun, you can choose plants for partial sun/partial shade.
  • If your spot gets less than three hours of direct sun daily, choose landscaping plants for shade.

In addition to sun exposure expectations, you have to look at soil and water conditions in your planting space when choosing landscaping plants. You want to match plants that like wet feet with lower lying or more moist conditions and vice-versa. If you have heavy clay soil, knowing which plants thrive in those types of spaces can help direct you as well.

Think About Your Design Scheme

The plants you choose for your Chicago landscape must fit your overall landscape design as well to ensure they fit in.

Thinking about how to choose plants for landscaping must include a look at your personal style. Do you have a formal landscape or more of a cottage garden?

Evergreens and hedge plants can fit well in a more modern or formal space because they can have a more exact shape, consistent color, and even texture.

For an English garden, on the other hand, a softer approach with flowering shrubs and perennials that complement each other can add that creative texture, color, and variety this style can handle.

Opt for Native Plants

Opting for native plants is always a great choice when picking the right plants for your landscaping because they adapt to our changing environment.

What’s more, native plants generally can better handle local conditions. They are used to growing in Chicagoland, so they won’t be surprised by our temperature and weather changes.

black chokeberry

Chokeberry is one of our favorites. It prefers full sun to partial shade and tolerates wet and dry sites. You have two color options: black and red. Black chokeberry has pretty white flowers in spring followed by edible fruit. Red chokeberry grows 6 to 10 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet wide and has clusters of small, white flowers in mid-spring followed by small, round, bright red fruit in late summer and autumn.

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Some of Our Favorite Landscaping Plants in Illinois

As you’re looking for landscaping plants in Illinois, try some of these varieties, which are our favorites to add to Chicagoland home landscapes.


The dogwood has a desirable, round crown and strong branching structure that is covered in 2- to 4-inch creamy white flowers in May and June.


Glossy, green leaves provide summer interest and then turn a deep, dark red in autumn. Fruit develops in late summer/early fall, which can bring songbirds. The tree’s bark is mottled brown and gray, which gives it a unique winter texture.

Adapting to almost any soil, the white dogwood is versatile, so it makes choosing landscaping plants easy. Growing 15 to 25 feet tall with a 20- to 25-foot width, this tree will grow in full sun, but it will also thrive in partial shade. The Kousa variety of dogwood is low maintenance and offers disease-, pest-, and deer-resistance.


When it comes to how to choose plants for landscaping, you can’t go wrong with the viburnum family. From shrubs to small trees, they are great flowering plants for smaller spaces.

The snowball viburnum has large, white, pom pom-like blooms. They start out green, then turn white, and sometimes even fade to a nice blush pink tone. Its foliage is a dark green with serrated, pointy leaves that turn a brilliant brick red in the fall.


The tree can grow to 25 or 30 feet tall, while the snowball shrub can become a dense 12 feet. This variety has excellent drought tolerance. Relatively low maintenance, viburnum don’t attract deer and tolerate urban pollution.

Plant this tree in full sun to partial shade in average to evenly moist soil. Viburnums are known not to like standing water or wet roots.


Hydrangeas are so popular because certain varieties are longer bloomers, so they provide more color for longer periods of time.

patio and walkway with lots of plantings and hydrangea

On top of that, they are hardy and easy to grow, making them a simple choice when you’re looking to add something fun and pick the right plants for your landscaping.

Get Excited About Landscape Design and Installation in Chicagoland

Bright blooms, wonderful texture, and matching the right plant to the right space can do so much for your outdoor space.

We hope these tips help when you’re trying to figure out how to choose the right plants for your landscape.

Don’t be intimidated or nervous about picking the perfect plants. Let KD Landscape help. We can bring our years of experience working with great performing landscaping plants in Illinois so you can have a special space that looks amazing all year long.

Ready to see how KD Landscape can transform your suburban Chicago yard with the right landscape plants? We’d love to share our design and installation expertise with you. Get started today with a free consultation. Together, we can prepare a design that brings a wow factor to your home landscape.

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Image Source: Chokeberry, Dogwood, Viburnum