How To Choose The Right Shrubs For Your Landscape

Just like trees, shrubs are an important component of any landscape, providing not only visual appeal but also functional usage for properties of varying shapes and sizes. Shrubs for landscaping provide natural beauty that can accentuate your home, while also serving as privacy screens to adjoining properties. There are two main categories for shrubs—deciduous and evergreen. Deciduous shrubs are flowering shrubs, such as forsythia and lilac, which lose their leaves in the autumn. Evergreen shrubs, however,  provide color year-round—a welcome sight during the cold, stark winter months. With literally hundreds of shrub varieties to choose from, shrub identification is key when selecting shrubs that best suit your needs.

Taking a Closer Look at Shrubs

Deciding which shrubs for landscaping to incorporate on your property is often a matter of  taste and design sense, as well as practicality and function. What purpose your shrubs will serve you now and in the future deserves your utmost consideration. Asking yourself a few key questions is imperative. For example, is it important to you that your shrubs are deer resistant? Or, do you only want small shrubs for landscaping, especially if you have a view you want  unobstructed? Do you desire privacy and wish to use larger shrubs? What is the upkeep for shrubbery you may be considering? Did you know there are certain shrub varieties that attract specific birds and  butterflies? These may be questions you have not yet considered.

Getting up close and personal to a wide variety of shrubs is the first step to shrub identification. In fact, you may already know some of the most common shrubs for landscaping. Yet, expanding your breath of knowledge to the wide range of shrub species  available, can give you a greater appreciation for what you already have on your property and what you plan on adding now or in the future.

Location is Key

When it comes to shrubs, location really is everything. And before you decide on which shrubs you want planted, it is important to recognize that your region's climate and soil type may be the deciding factor in what will and will not grow successfully. We all know that a cactus would not survive a Maine winter. But, type of shrubs would survive and thrive in extreme cold? Or, for that matter, extreme heat? This is where shrub identification comes in. Being able to properly identify which species of shrubs will flourish in your gardening zone will save you a lot of time, money and frustration. Another important consideration is the type of soil on your landscape. Different types of shrubs are more or less likely to thrive depending on soil properties such as drainage and pH levels. A certified arborist can provide the best insight regarding your landscape’s soil properties. To see what are the best shrub varieties for your region, use the following shrub identification guide

Shrub and Leaf Identification

Even if you don't have a green thumb, shrub identification can be enjoyable as well as a worthy endeavor when it comes to selecting and maintaining your shrubs. Keeping a few simple rules in mind will help you in your quest. You may want to consider purchasing a shrub identification guide, as this can make shrub identification an easier and faster process.  Another suggestion is to take some photos of your shrubs. This is  worthwhile, especially if you ever need to show a particular shrub(s) to a professional arborist. 

Determining if your shrub is an evergreen or a broad-leaf plant is one of the first steps in leaf identification. Evergreens, for example, have needle leaves, while broad-leaf shrubs have a leaf with a flat surface. Every leaf has special characteristics, making some shrubs easier to identify than others. One example is a juniper bush, which has sharp, stiff needles, as opposed to other shrubs, such as yews, which have flat, soft needles.

Additionally, you will also have to determine the direction that the leaves grow in, which is another key characteristic in shrub identification. Are the leaves opposite one another? Or do they alternate along the stem if the shrub is a broad-leaf plant? Keeping careful notes on your findings can be a helpful tool.

No doubt, shrub identification is made easier when the leaves are on them. The process is also made simpler when they contain flower blooms. With no leaves or blooms, shrubs can be identified by the many other aspects of these plants. This includes a shrub's height, shape, and size , as well as the color of the bark. Since there are so many varieties of flowering shrubs, by simply looking at the foliage and bark can greatly assist  you in with identification. Colors will also be important when you are identifying flowering shrubs. You will want to be sure to plant the shrubs according to seasonal blooming as well as for the spectacular color the shrubs will add to your property.

Maintaining Shrubs (And Your Investment)

Maintaining your shrubs is an important component to the health and well-being of your property. Shrub protection is vital, especially since many shrubs can be subjected to root rot, pests and fungal infections.  Some fungal infections are caused by excess moisture, while others are caused by spores that infect the soil. By being aware as to which of your shrubs may be prone to these and other ailments, is another advantage to shrub identification. By understanding what types of shrubbery you have, will make you more aware of the potential problems that may occur. 

Consult a Certified Arborist for choosing the right shrub for your landscape

Now that you have had the opportunity to educate yourself on choosing shrubs, you are ready to consult a certified arborist. By gaining some key understanding about the  numerous  shrub varieties available, and sharing your findings with your arborist, will  greatly assist him/her in finding and planting the right types of shrubs for your landscaping. Keep in mind, arborists are specially trained to  plant shrubbery which can represent a significant financial investment, and certainly are long-term commitments. It is always best to consult an arborist, who can help to test your soil, provide advice regarding landscape layout and tree placement, and identify the very best types of shrubs and bushes which will be in accordance with your taste and needs.

Remember, certified arborists are the shrub experts; they have the most experience when it comes to finding the best quality shrubs for landscaping. With the proper shrub selection, and planting and maintenance, your arborist can help provide you with many years of healthy and vital shrubbery! 

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