November through February is prime time for planting trees, shrubs and ground covers in Louisiana.

So now is an excellent time to assess your landscape situation and begin to make plans, says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill.

Planting a tree, designing a flower garden or planting beds around a deck are good do-it-yourself projects, Gill says. But designing an overall landscape requires careful study, planning and a good sense of design.

“This is not necessarily beyond the ability of many home gardeners,” he says. “After all, most of us do a decent job designing a home interior that is attractive and comfortable.”

Study your site carefully so you can match plants to the growing conditions they need. And make sure you choose plants that will mature at the right size for their location and will thrive in your area. The LSU AgCenter has pamphlets and information available at parish offices and online while libraries also are good sources of information to help select appropriate plants.

Think about the style you want and make sure you determine your needs first, Gill says. Do you want a free-flowing, natural garden or something more formal? Is a play area important? Do you enjoy tinkering in your garden, or would you prefer a lower-maintenance landscape?

If you decide you need to seek professional help, Gill says, you have several options.

Horticulturists at local nurseries or garden centers can answer questions on choosing the right plants. Some nurseries have individuals on staff who can even help develop a design or give suggestions on some of your ideas.

Another choice is a licensed landscape architect as a consultant for an hourly fee or to draw up a complete design.

So if you’re thinking about adding a shade tree, planting a privacy hedge, landscaping around the patio, dressing up the front of your house or even doing extensive landscaping, now is the time to start planning.

Have your decisions and plans in place in November, and you will be ready to plant during the best time of the year.

Got a gardening question? Write to GardenNews@agcenter.lsu.edu.