Do It Yourself Landscape Design: Common Landscaping Shrubs, And When To Use Them

Improve landscapes by using the right shrub in the right place.

There are numerous varieties of landscape shrubs. They can range from smaller varieties on up to the larger tree-like forms. Some retain their color and leaves (evergreens) year-round, while others only have a short bloom time. Shrubs have many uses which include foundation plantings, privacy hedges, and specimen plants. They can be used to create a backdrop, define the outline of plant beds, or to create seasonal interest. However, before placing any shrubs into your landscape, you should first take into account the height and width of each matured plant. You want to allow enough space for your shrub to grow. Choose varieties that will not block windows or walkways. Also, consider the appearance of the shrub after its initial blooming period. Since the majority of shrubs are non-flowering most of the year, you want to be sure to match the shrubs you have chosen to your particular landscape. Foliage differs from plant to plant so look for foliage that will create a pleasant and subtle contrast. Colors can range from silver, gold, and variegated to red, purple, and black. The best time for planting shrubs is during the fall or early spring while the weather is cooler. It is usually a good idea to learn about each plant's native habitat and living conditions prior to its selection.

Azaleas and rhododendrons are common landscape shrubs. They come in a variety of colors and are quite attractive during their spring blooming period. While they typically bloom only for a short time, many of the varieties are evergreen throughout the remainder of the year. These shrubs are good choices to use for foundation plantings, borders, shade gardens, informal hedges, specimen plants, or natural woodland and rock gardens Boxwoods are also common in landscape design. These evergreen shrubs are used in foundation plantings and for low edging as well as for creating walled gardens or informal hedges. Another good evergreen shrub commonly used is juniper. The low-growing kind is ideal for use around property corners or filling in empty spaces between other shrubs. Rose of Sharon is one of many landscape shrubs used for producing privacy by grouping them together along your property line. This shrub has beautiful blooms in late summer. They can, however, get quite tall and may take on a somewhat untamed appearance if not kept pruned. Other uses for this shrub include backdrops for various smaller shrubs, mixed borders, and foundation plantings. Another popular shrub is the hydrangea. Coming in a variety of forms, it has numerous clusters of colored flowers and stands about three feet tall. This shrub may spread rather irregularly in colonies and usually does well in shade or woodland gardens and informal borders. Two common shrubs which may signal the arrival of spring include forsythia and pussy willow. Forsythia is a no-fuss shrub with showy yellow flowers. Quite often it is used as screening but may also be used to soften corners around your landscape. The pussy willow has silver-colored, fuzzy buds in the spring but is just as showy in the winter months. Most of these shrubs are best suited for more natural areas or hedges. Some shrubs are used for their pleasant fragrances. Common varieties consist of witch hazel, lilac, and viburnum. Witch hazel is a tall shrub that resembles a tree more so than a shrub. It can get as high as twenty feet tall and is best used in an area with which is meant to be seen or along walkways where its scent may be enjoyed. The yellow blooms, during fall, make this shrub blend in nicely with an evergreen background. Lilacs are well known for their fragrant violet flowers. The more common types can grow quite tall. Lilacs do well when mass planted for screening or as backgrounds for borders. The intense, sweet clove scent of viburnum is regularly used in foundation plantings or mixed borders.

Among other uses, there are some shrubs that can stand alone simply as specimen plants. Some of the more common choices include roses, mountain laurel, english holly, yucca, and weigela.. Roses are often used for their attractive and fragrant blooms as is mountain laurel, which also looks nice when placed in shady woodland borders. English holly is commonly used as a screen plant or hedge. However, it is also a popular specimen plant during winter for its famed spiny-edged leaves and clusters of red berries. Another shrub that can stand alone is the yucca. It makes an interesting year-round accent with its sword-shaped leaves. Weigela blooms profusely throughout both late spring and early fall. Besides its attractive appearance as a specimen, this shrub may also be used in an informal garden or mass planted as a hedge. The barberry shrub is commonly used in landscaping. This shrub has thick, green leaves that turn red in the fall and produce numerous berries. It is generally used in mixed borders with other taller shrubs, perennials, and grasses.

There are other miscellaneous uses for landscape shrubs. Almost any kind of shrub can be grown in containers which can be placed as focal points or used as screening. Shrubs may also be used for attracting wildlife. A mixture of plants with various heights, textures, and color make excellent wildlife gardens. For seasonal effects, evergreens provide lovely year-round composition. Shrubs with twisted branches or colored bark function as unique focal points in winter as well as those which produce berries. There are also many shrubs that retain foliage color throughout any season. When planting shrubs you should keep in mind that planning ahead of time is an important factor. Whether you are considering using them for outlining boundaries, privacy screening, foundation planting, anchoring flower beds, or simply for specimen plants you should consult with professional landscapers within your area beforehand. There is also a wide selection of books and other research materials with which you may refer to for information regarding various shrubs.

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