Shrub Gardening: Planning, Planting & Growing

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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. he 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 arrangements.

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 birds.


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