Shrubs are an essential part of any garden and are often the most important part of a landscape design. With a seemingly end list of shrubs to choose from picking the appropriate shrubs can be a daunting task. The first thing you need to do is to determine the site conditions of your garden. Refer to the plant hardiness maps to determine what will work best for you. Low maintenance shrubs are always a good choice since they are the easiest to grow and care for.
Azaleas (Rododendron sp.), like the rhododendron, are wonderful in all kinds of garden situations. They are as at home in the woodland garden as they are in the formal garden. They’re perfect for the shade gardens as there colorful spring flowers brighten up the garden. Once they finish blooming their lush foliage stays green all year. Occasional pruning may be needed to keep them at the size which is best suited to your garden.
Rhododendrons (Rhododendron sp.), an evergreen shrub, are perfect for the shrub border and a great naturalizing shrub which blooms in the spring. Once a rhododendron is planted is established there little that need to be done to care for it. Some gardeners will deadhead the spent flower blooms to encourage a healthy bloom the following year but it not necessary.
Boxwood (Buxus sp.), an evergreen shrub, is hardy and, unless your looking for a formal look, requires only light pruning once a year. Boxwoods are generally available in mounding and upright varieties, making then well suited to the entrance garden. Once they’re established you’ll need only to water them occasionally.
Holly (Ilex sp.) shrubs are another good choice, and they make a nice hedgerow if you have an expanse of house that you want to cover up. They’ll need pruning to stay looking nice and to keep their shape, but they are worth it because they make these beautiful, large, lush shrubs that have berries in the winter, which bring color to the yard and attract birds.
Many deciduous shrubs are easy care as well. A common complaint among gardener is that late in the summer, before the fall foliage, there seems to be lull in garden color. There is, however, no shortage of shrubs which bloom in later in the season. Hydrangea, a popular deciduous shrub, is one the most versatile and low maintenance. They are essential to garden in summer for color and foliage texture. No shrub border is complete without them.
Butterfly Bush (Buddlea sp.) is a great choice. These shrubs have huge cones of colorful flowers that bloom in high summer and are very attractive to butterflies (and bees, so be careful planting these if someone in your household is allergic to beestings). Some varieties of butterfly bush are huge, growing up to six feet tall and five or six feet wide. If you don’t have room for that kind of commitment, smaller hybrids are now available.
Viburnums (Viburnum sp.) are gardener’s favorite; they’re one the most useful and versatile and easy care shrubs available. With over 120 varieties there’s one for any garden project. Some viburnums, such as the arrowwood or maple-leaf, are wonderful as woodland garden shrubs. Others have a more formal feel such as the Korean spice or judii varieties and are suitable for foundation plantings, shrub borders and as specimen plants.
Easy-care shrubs are reliable performers as they can tolerate difficult situation and little maintenance.