What are Some Tips for Planting Shrubs?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

There are a number of things which gardeners should think about when planting shrubs, ranging from the best choice of shrub for the environment to the proper placement for a particular shrub. The important thing to remember is that shrubs are a permanent addition to the garden, and it pays to take the time to select the perfect shrub and get it established properly. Shrubs should also be cared for over their lifetimes, to ensure that they stay beautiful.

Lilac bushes grow quickly.
Lilac bushes grow quickly.

Something which people sometimes forget when planting shrubs is that shrubs grow, sometimes becoming quite large, which is important to think about. A dogwood under a picture window might look lovely for two years, and then grow up and obscure the window, requiring awkward pruning. Likewise, shrubs planted along pathways can overwhelm the path if they are planted too close and not pruned. When planting shrubs, gardeners should think about how the shrub will look in 5 or 10 years, and plan accordingly.

Shrubs can be grown as a privacy shield, a single specimen piece, a groundcover, or a mass planting. Shrubs which fit into the look and feel of the garden are important, and gardeners may want to consider the color of the flowers and leaves, and issues like selecting between evergreen and deciduous shrubs, before planting shrubs. Furthermore, shrubs which are appropriate for the climate zone should be selected, and gardeners may want to find species which are not very demanding on water supplies, to make their gardens more environmentally friendly.

Before a shrub even goes into the ground, the soil should be conditioned. First, gardeners should confirm that the soil is well drained, as soggy soil can hurt the roots of the shrub. The soil should be amended with sand, organic material like mulch, and compost, to ensure that it will be rich and well-drained so that the shrub gets a good start. Before planting shrubs, gardeners should also take note of the conditions in the area where they want to plant, and choose shrubs which like the level of light available and can tolerate conditions like heavy winds or dust if necessary.

Spring or fall is the best time to plant shrubs. After the soil has been conditioned, the shrub can be carefully transplanted, fertilized, and watered. Routine watering in the first few weeks is critical to get the shrub off to a healthy start, and it is also important to prune the shrub annually to keep the growth even and aesthetically pleasing. For gardeners who want fast growing shrubs, some plants to consider include: azaleas, lilacs, butterfly bushes, forsythias, dogwoods, cypresses, and hollies.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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