Trees and Shrubs
Most shrubs are low-maintenance plants that grow well for years with little attention. However, it is important to start with species that are well adapted to the local climate and soils. There are thousands of shrubs ranging from dwarfs that hug the ground to tall, tree-like specimens. Before selecting any for your garden, it pays to look around and study those thriving in established landscapes of nearby neighborhoods. Remember that mature shrubs often look very different from their young counterparts sold in pots.
Shrubs are essential to any landscape designs. For example, evergreen shrubs are indispensable for vibrant splashes of green during the dreary days of winter.
Other shrubs may mask the base of your house so it does not seem so bare, define your property boundaries, or screen unsightly objects or views. Some shrubs produce such attractive flowers or greenery that you will want to give them a prominent place in your landscape. More than any other group of plants, shrubs are the backbone of a garden.
Shrubs Planting Tips
Check plant tags carefully to find the mature size of a shrub before you buy it. Stick with low growing selections for planting near windows or entryways; use larger shrubs farther from your house. Avoid having to prune a shrub to keep it in bounds.
- Set out new shrubs when the weather is likely to encourage fast rooting. Early spring is a good time to plant any type of shrub, but if you live where winters are mild you may find that fall is better.
- Most shrubs develop extensive lateral (horizontal) roots, so dig bowl-shaped planting holes that are twice as wide as they are deep. As you dig, mix in a 2-inch deep layer of planting mix, compost, or other type of organic matter.
- Take care not to plant shrubs too deeply. Make sure that the topmost roots are covered with about 1/2 inch of soil, but avoid piling soil or mulch up around the main stem. An old recommendation for digging planting holes twice as deep as the rootball is proving incorrect. This can cause plants to sink too deeply as the soil and amendments settle.
- Never plant a dry rootball. Always water plants the day before planting and also water the ground after you are finished setting out a new shrub. When the dampened soil settles, spread a 2to 3-inch deep blanket of mulch to control weeds and keep the soil moist. Pine needles, shredded bark, or bark nuggets are the most popular mulches for shrubs.