- Shrubs are multiple-stem plants that grow from 2 to more than 20 feet high.
- Use shrubs for screening, privacy, windbreaks, wildlife habitats, and landscape color and texture.
- Deciduous shrubs provide a seasonal change of interest in the landscape.
- Well-placed shrubs take into account available space, exposure and soil conditions.
Shrubs are immediately noticeable in the landscape because they are at eye level. Flower and fruit displays, interesting foliage shapes and colors, and even bark color and texture add outdoor interest. Shrubs can visually anchor a building to a site, guide the line of sight toward or away from certain views, and bridge the space between lower-growing perennials and taller trees to give a sense of completion to a landscape. Deciduous shrubs offer seasonal changes not found with evergreen shrubs.
Because of the range of heights available, pruning, and spacing possibilities, shrubs are versatile landscape performers. A 2-foot shrub can complement perennials in the flower bed, while a 20-foot hedge can screen even the largest property. Some shrubs may be pruned to a single or few stems for growth as small specimen trees. Pruning others flat to decorate a wall in a formal garden can provide a focal point for a courtyard or walkway. Space shrubs singly or mass them in small groups to fill in a shrub border. Spacing closely in a line will allow plants to grow into a hedge or screen. The spacing at planting depends on the growth habit and mature size of the shrub species, as well as the intended purpose.
Before purchasing shrubs, decide the function you want the plants to perform in the landscape. Are you interested in screening an undesirable view, intercepting the glare of car headlights from the street, hiding the house foundation, reducing the wind velocity, attracting birds, or adding flowers or fall color?
After determining the function, write down a description of the intended planting site to include soil texture (clay, sand, etc.), available moisture, and exposure (compass direction and sunny vs. shady). Remember, as landscapes mature, a sunny site may change to a shady one.