Shrubbery creates habitat, color & design possibilities.
What Are Shrubs?
Landscape-worthy shrubbery includes everything from hedges to lilacs, azaleas, and many other plants. Choosing the right kind of shrub, small tree, or bush depends upon your climate, landscape, planting area size, and needs. What type of bush or shrub makes sense for your yard?
Flowering shrubs, such as butterfly bushes, azaleas, viburnum, and other favorites provide shade, privacy, structure and, of course, beautiful blooms. Flowering shrubs can work well in hedgerows, or choose a favorite to place as a specimen plant alongside smaller perennials, bulbs, and annuals.
When choosing flowering shrubs, consider bloom times. With some advance planning, you can ensure that your shrubs are blooming even when other perennials are not, keeping the color show alive in your garden all season long. Azaleas, forsythia, viburnum and lilacs bloom in spring, while hydrangeas, viburnum and butterfly bushes bloom in late summer. Don't discount the foliage of your blooming shrubs and bushes, either. Many varieties of flowering shrubs bear fruit, or offer vibrant foliage alongside their blooms for three-season performance.
Evergreens are among the most popular choices for shrubs and hedges, and with good reason. Coniferous plants, such as arborvitae, juniper, and boxwood, stay green all year and offer unfailing service as in privacy fences, windbreaks or snow protection. Some of the best natural fencing available, evergreen shrubbery doesn't need to be monotone. Boxwood and cypress plants have been used for centuries in topiaries, and many conifer varieties feature stunning displays of varied needles.
While deciduous shrubs don't hold their color year-round, many deciduous hedge plants and trees offer a gorgeous display of glossy leaves through the summer and colorful autumnal foliage in the fall. Spirea, chokecherry, barberry, and dogwood shrubs are all wonderfully hardy three-season plants. And, bare can be quite beautiful. Consider the appearance of the bark and stems of these shrubs as a way to add interest to the winter landscape.
Shrubs for Hedging
Hedges basically consist of multiple shrubs planted in a grouping, to create a border or boundary. Privacy hedges include taller shrubs, and can serve as a windbreak or a sound barrier. Tall arborvitae and cedars are popular for those purposes, and provide a beautiful backdrop for your garden or lawn.
Shorter hedges can be useful in creating borders, and carving your landscape into smaller areas. Try boxwoods, shorter flowering shrubs like dogwoods, and even mockorange or juniper fruiting shrubs to create a special area for seating or relaxing.
Fruit-Bearing Plants as Shrubs
Blueberries, serviceberries, or other fruiting shrubs aren't only productive--they're beautiful, too. Allow berry bushes to serve double duty by utilizing them as ornamentals. They produce delicious fruits and attractive flowers, and many berry bushes offer blazingly beautiful fall foliage, too. Blueberries in particular work well in container plantings, hedgerows, or as specimen plants.
No matter what type of shrubbery you choose, small woody plants can add shape and structure to your landscape. And, they're easy to plant and easy to care for!
How To Plant Shrubs
Looking for a guide to planting shrubs? Planting nursery stock requires a bit of forethought, but the process itself is relatively simple. Choose the right kind of shrubs for your climate and zone, considering the full grown height of your shrubs, as well as the mature spread of the plantings. Once you've selected the right plants for your needs, the business of planting begins.
New shrubs seldom need heavy fertilization, but they do need to be watered frequently and deeply for the first year. If you live in a cold climate, cover the base of your shrub with a thin layer of mulch, but don't pile mulch up the trunk of the shrub.
How To Arrange Shrubs
Shrubs are trickier to re-plant than perennials, so make sure to place them in an arrangement and location that you'll love for years to come. When planning your shrubbery arrangement, consider some of these options:
Shrubs are some of the most notable and permanent parts of your landscape, so arrange them with care. And, don't forget to include other plantings alongside your shrubbery. Some climbing perennials, like climbing clematis, pair nicely with shrubbery as they like to climb woody branches. Or, plant shade-loving perennials in the shadows of large shrubs.
When To Trim Shrubs
Most shrubs should be trimmed in spring or early summer, just as new growth begins to appear. Trimming in fall can put too much stress on shrubs as they head into the winter months, so only remove dead or damaged branches during fall clean-up. Flowering shrubs should be deadheaded after their flowers fade to encourage reblooming and prevent disease. Summer-flowering shrubs are the exception to this rule, and can be trimmed in the fall just after they bloom.
How To Trim Shrubs
Trimming shrubs is a simple weekend job, especially with the right tools. Use a gas-powered or electric trimmer for larger branches, and a hand-held pair of clippers for smaller ones. Most trees and shrubs do not require "wound care" and will heal on their own without the use of commercial tree bandaging. Loppers or trimmers should be kept clean and sharp to promote clean cuts and quick healing.
Start at the base of the shrub and work your way upward, keeping an eye on shaping. If you're working with a mature, overgrown shrub, select and remove large branches first before moving to smaller shoots and suckers. If the shrub needs to be thinned, use evenly-spaced cuts to remove deep-seated branches and allow air flow to the center of the shrub. Be sure to remove any dead or diseased branches, as well as shoots that don't conform to the desired shape of the tree.
How To Care For Shrubs
With just a little trimming and basic upkeep, you can enjoy your shrubs for decades. To take care of shrubs long-term, you'll need to adjust their care based on age. Newly-planted shrubs require lots of water, so set a soaker hose to water the plants for ten minutes per day during the spring, summer and fall. Young shrubs do not need to be fertilized, but may appreciate a light application of compost in the spring and fall. As the plants mature, relax your watering schedule and use a basic fertilizer for shrubs twice per year.