Shrubs are one of the most common features of landscaping. That’s because they are flexible enough to be used in your front yard or backyard for added privacy, sound blocking, and general aesthetic appearance. Like all plants, though, shrubs needs proper care to stay healthy and looking good.
Taking care of shrubs is not the same as taking care of other plants. For them to thrive, you need to employ special care practices. Let’s take a look at some popular tips for shrub maintenance.
Shrub Care for Landscaping
The good news is that shrubs don’t require as much maintenance as other plants and flowers, yet they live much longer. That said, different shrubs need to be trimmed differently. So knowing which type of shrub you have will dictate your trimming practices. Deciduous shrubs are best trimmed in the cooler autumn and winter months, though they can be trimmed any time of year. Simply use your loppers to prune dead stems and crossing branches.
Boxwood plants and arborvitae are very popular shrub choices primarily because they are so low-maintenance. In fact, they only really need maintenance about once a year.
If you are looking to add a splash of color to your yard, you can consider flowing shrubs. Lavender and hydrangeas are two common (and beautiful) options.
Whatever option you choose, here are some standard shrub care pointers:
When to Plant
With regards to shrub maintenance, it all starts with knowing when to plant them. Literally. There are a couple of ways to know when it’s the right time of year to plant your shrubs, whether you are planting them for the first time or replanting them in a new location. In general, the ideal time to plant your shrubs is in autumn. This gives them some time to grow before the cold winter weather sets in. If you are buying shrubs from a home improvement store, the tag will usually tell you the best time to plant. Of course, your local landscaping professional will know just when you should be planting shrubs for any landscape situation.
Depending upon the size of the project, planting shrubs can be a DIY project. If you are looking at making significant changes and/or are unsure about the best time to put your chosen shrubs in the ground, it is best to contact a professional. For instance, some shrubs are shade-tolerant, while others are shade-intolerant. If you don’t know what that means or how to tell the difference, that should be your cue to contact a landscaping professional.
How to Prune Your Shrubs
When it comes to shrub care, pruning will be your biggest maintenance task, by far. Pruning, or trimming dead and/or overgrown branches, allows the rest of the shrub to keep growing. In some cases, you may also need to prune out of necessity, if your shrubs are growing to block things like HVAC equipment, electric meters, etc.
Good pruning is done with consistent 45-degree angle cuts. This angle makes it possible for new branches to grow back in healthy and attractive. You’ll want to start by thinning the shrub first (i.e., dropping some branches from the shrub’s outer part, after the bud). After that, go in and take out any larger branches that are getting in the way of your home’s features or other landscaping. Lastly, remove dying or dead branches.
When to Prune Your Shrubs
As with planting, the ideal time to prune your shrubs really depends on the shrub. It’s important to nail down which shrub you have, because the timing of you shrub pruning is crucial to its growth. For instance, you’ll want to prune flowering shrubs right after they bloom. For non-flowering shrubs, late winter is ideal because they are still dormant in the colder weather; the spring rains, then, will initiate their growth again.
Caring for Shrubs in Colder Weather
A huge advantage to using shrubs instead of other plants is that they stand up to winter weather. With proper care, they can look great the whole year through. That said, you’ll still want to take some precautions to prepare your shrubs for cold Michigan winters. Putting down mulch in autumn will help to prevent the roots from getting too cold. You may even opt for burlap covers. Also, keep watering your shrubs through autumn all the way up until the first frost of the season.
The Right Tools
We mentioned earlier that you’ll want the highest-quality tools you can afford. Some essential tools include hand pruners, loppers, hand trimmers, and electric/gas trimmers.
Quality pruning shears ensure you get that good, clean cut without having to use to much force. For hedges and bigger shrubs, loppers can be more practical than hand pruners for the thicker branches. In addition, pick up some good gardening gloves. They are a great investment. They are often inexpensive and can spare you the pain and agitation that comes with the scrapes and cuts that are a part of pruning.
Shrub Care Costs
If you are uncomfortable doing the pruning yourself, you should probably budget for a professional landscaper. While this is an added expense, it can also be seen as an investment, as a professional can save you time and effort, while you have peace of mind in knowing the job will be done correctly.
To wrap up, it’s worth repeating that shrubs are a great choice for year-round beautification. That’s said, you’ll want to budget some time and/or money into making sure they are properly maintained. With proper maintenance, shrubs can stay healthy and attractive for years. If you are considering professional help, we’d love to hear from you. Just contact us or call us at (517) 990-0110 today.