Adding shrubs to your landscape is a great way to provide character and natural boundaries, or to make existing boundaries (like fences and external walls) more attractive. With the right tools and know-how, this is actually a project you can complete without help of a professional.
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What is the Difference Between a Shrub, a Bush, and a Tree?
Shrubs are the manicured plants we use in commercial and residential landscaping. They’re generally shorter than a mature tree, but some can grow quite tall. Their trunks typically split off into branches much lower to the ground than what you see in a tree- but again, not always! Bushes are actually found in the wild, unpruned.
Confusing, right? Why do we call it a rose bush instead of a rose shrub? Likely because rosebushes are found naturally in the wild, yet we’ve cultivated them to become common landscaping fixtures because we love them so. This is true for many plants that we’ve “domesticated” for aesthetic purposes, but shrubs tend to be a bit shorter and denser than their wild counterparts due to popular pruning techniques.
How Do I Add Shrubs to My Landscape?
Your local garden shop will offer a variety of shrubs, at different stags of maturity. Due to the labor involved in planting one, a younger shrub will be easier to integrate into your own lawn. Here are a few things to consider:
- Pick one whose needs are similar to the established landscape. That is, you want to consider shade coverage, fertilizer ratios, and irrigation schedules when choosing what you want to bring home. This way you won’t have to drastically alter your lawn care routine.
- Pick a shrub that will still fit within the area you choose to plant it, even once it’s full grown. Do a bit of homework on how tall or wide a certain shrub tends to get, whether it sprouts lengthy vines like a rosebush, and whether it tends to be invasive. (Invasive plants simply need to be contained with barriers.)
- Pick something that works well with your local climate. That exotic beauty you’re eyeing may be a tempting addition to your landscape, but will it withstand the yearly weather patterns without tons of extra care?
Once you’ve made an educated decision, you want to dig a hole at least as deep as the plant’s root system. It should also span 6 inches or more around the base of the trunk. Fresh soil, a bit of fertilizer, and frequent watering (appx. 2-3 times per week) will help fortify the plant.
However, you want to allow for occasional dry periods, as this encourages the root system to to reach further into the soil and establish itself in its new surroundings. After the first few weeks, you can reduce the watering schedule to maintenance-level recommendations for that particular breed.
Shrubs are a great way to add texture and personality, attract new birds, and enhance your landscape with low-need vegetation. For a more hands-on gardening project, Best Vegetables to Grow in Texas has some great ideas!