How to plant a shrub

When selecting a new shrub for your yard you should consider several things. Growing conditions, height, width and insect problems are only few concerns. For more selection tips check out Planting shrubs and trees: time saving tips

After you have selected the right shrub for your yard you will want to
pick a site in your yard or garden area that meets the shrub’s climate and space requirements.

For example, planting a sun lover like hibiscus in the shade will result in a slow growth and decline, which will usually lead to disease and insect problems, followed by its demise. Planting a giant shrub like a viburnum against the foundation of your house will result in you clipping the shrub several times each year to keep it somewhat under control.

I usually research my shrub online or from a garden book and choose my location before I buy the plant. This way I can dig a hole and be ready to plant the shrub as soon as I get home. If I have pre-dug the hole I water the hole the night before I get the shrub.

If I find a shrub and bring it home, I water the shrub well and sit it in the shade, dig a hole, water the hole and plant the shrub the next day.

Why water a hole? It lets me see if the location drains well and I also make sure the surrounding water is damp and moist. This will help the shrub adapt to its new surrounding faster.

Other tips for planting a shrub

  • Plant your container grown or balled shrubs in early spring or fall, while temperatures are mild. Bare root shrubs should be planted in early spring, so they have the rest of the growing season to get established.
  • Dig a hole approximately 1 ½ times the size of the root ball. Amend the soil minimally. I use compost in the bottom of the hole and mix a small amount of compost in the soil that I have removed for the shrub. When roots encounter overly rich soil surrounded by a wall of clay, they tend to grow back into the amended area, producing a root-bound effect. Since my soil tens to be heavy clay this step is important for me.
  • Tamp the soil back into the hole with your foot, eliminating air pockets. Air pockets cause poor drainage and the roots of the shrub will not breath properly leading to a sickly shrub that grows slowly.
  • Water the shrub with a trickle from the hose, drip irrigation or with plastic milk jugs until the area is saturated. Continue providing one inch of water per week during the growing season.
  • It’s best to reduce competition from weeds by installing a weed mat or 2 to 3 inches of mulch. Your shrub will grow better and you will have less work. You could also plant a shallow-rooted ground cover around the base of the shrub. Periwinkle is a good choice for a ground cover.
  • When planting shrubs, plant in a group of three to five. Repetition and odd numbers are more pleasing to the eye and have a more natural look. If you consider your shrub to be a stand-alone specimen, plant some smaller shrubs in front of it to give a layered look. The addition of perennial flowers in the group will also add to the planting.

Shrubs add to the beauty and relaxation of your yard. They also make a great backdrop for flowers and soften the edges of your home and garden areas.

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Denise

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