They come in many shapes and sizes–tall, small, wide, compact, dense, arching. They can be evergreen or deciduous, flowering or berry-bearing, fragrant or with variegated foliage–the choices are many and amazing.
With so many options to choose from, it can be hard to figure out which ones to use. But, with a little research and imagination, shrubs can be the basis of a beautiful and sustainable landscape.
A great first step in choosing shrubs is to think about the color scheme of your landscape area.
These can be used in a mass planting (monoculture) of one plant variety or mixed and matched together to add texture and interest to a planting. If you want a wall of color, such as pink or red, in the landscape, choose flowering shrubs from the color palette you desire.
Want more of a mix of colors?
One way to achieve this is to use shrubs with colorful or variegated foliage, such as nandinas, loropetalum, pieris japonica (Japanese Andromeda), pittosporumand abelia. Many of these change color as the seasons progress, thus providing year-round interest to the landscape.
And, of course, there are the flowering shrubs…
If selected thoughtfully, these can provide flowers almost every month of the year by using such plants as a winter-blooming camellia; spring-blooming rhododendron, abelia or Indian hawthorne; summer-blooming gardenia, weigela or oleander; then back to a fall-blooming camellia. As these plants bloom in succession, they will provide something of interest regardless of the time of year.
Another option for long-term blooming is to use plants such as ‘Big Daddy’ Hydrangea, that blooms summer through fall. For an even longer blooming season plant Jubilation™ Gardenia, which blooms from spring through the summer and into the fall.
Intermingling non-blooming and flowering shrubs together also makes for a lively, interesting landscape.
Plus, many shrubs are great backdrops for plantings of flowering annuals and perennials, herbs and even vegetable beds.
Keep in mind that too much mixing and matching can result in a cluttered or chaotic landscape so don’t go too crazy unless you want to make a fun and unruly statement in your yard. Also remember to choose and position plants based on size (tall plants in the back of a landscape scene with medium, then small plants toward the front) and growth habits (don’t plant a big spreading shrub so close to other plants that it overpowers its landscape companions).
By taking a little time to study the characteristics and choices of plants that you like, you can tap into the diversity of shrubs for a beautiful and long-lasting landscape.