Shrubs are very important in the natural
environment—providing shelter and food for a variety of animals and
birds. But they are often underutilized in many otherwise creatively
designed landscapes. As a design element, shrubs provide the medium height
in a garden and help blend the differences between trees, herbaceous
plants and grass lawns.
But the woody branches of shrubs also
provide more fullness. This fullness is what often gives a garden that
established look and also provides visual interest during the winter.
If you want to attract birds to your
garden, shrubs are an important element as many shrubs have berries that
are attractive to birds as well as providing shelter. They also provide
nectar-rich flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
What would spring be without the
welcoming blooms of Forsythias and Lilacs? Just as these signal the
arrival of warm weather, other shrubs provide fragrant and colorful blooms
during spring and summer; some even have the added bonus of producing
berries later in the season. Many berries remain on shrubs through the
winter adding a bit of color to an otherwise brown landscape.
The benefit of shrubs' woody structure
shows after the leaves have fallen. Some shrubs such as dogwoods have
colorful stems of red, yellow or purple. New
Mexico Privet has interesting branching structure and a pretty creamy
color bark which brightens any landscape. The contorted branches found in
the Harry Lauder's Walking Stick might be thought of as a curiosity, but
they definitely lend intrigue. Keep any pruned branches to use in floral
Fall is a great time to plant most
shrubs. The cooler air and less intense sun helps get their roots
established while the soil is still warm. Check your landscape for a few
places where shrubs could be used to add fullness and create a haven for