How To Choose The Best Trees And Shrubs For Your Garden

You installed your lawn – but your garden is still far from complete. You need larger plants, like trees and shrubs, to provide shade, texture and visual interest in your outdoor space. However, not just any flora will do; you should be highly selective about what you put in the ground to ensure that you don’t do more work than necessary and build a beautiful, enjoyable space around your home.

If you are struggling to determine what should go around your lawn to add decoration and function to your garden, look no further than this helpful guide.

Design Your Garden

Before you can get even an inkling of ideas for the trees and shrubs your yard needs, you need to lay out a design for your outdoor space. You should do this by measuring the dimensions of existing structures in your yard – such as your lawn and hardscaped elements like walls and patios. Then, you should sketch your yard to scale on a piece of paper (or in design software like these free tools) and add in trees and shrubs where you want them. This practice will give you a guide to look at while you are investigating your tree and shrub options and installing them in your yard.

Research Your Climate Zone

It is incredibly important that you choose trees and shrubs that grow well in your climate, which is why you need to research your climate zone. Climate zones are designated by high and low temperatures as well as rainfall, all of which impact how plants grow. It is nearly impossible to grow an apple tree in Phoenix, for example, because the climate of that region doesn’t provide the right temperatures or water. When researching trees or shrubs, you should be able to find information on the climate zones best suited for their growth, so you will use this information in choosing the trees and shrubs for your garden space.

Consider How Much Work You Can Do

Unless you are a professional gardener – one with plenty of free time – or else a young retired person with a green thumb, you might not have the strength, skill or knowledge to care for the most complex landscaping plants. For instance, topiary bushes are striking, but they require extensive pruning to keep their shape, and pruning is a delicate process that can kill plants outright. Other trees and shrubs need specific fertilization that you might not be able to provide from your local gardening store.

If you can afford it, it is worthwhile to invest in lawn and garden care from professionals. However, if you want to perform your own yard maintenance, you should be sure to choose only trees and shrubs you can care for yourself. That means you should look into the maintenance of your options, such as their water and fertilization needs, drop frequency, pruning requirements and more, to ensure you can do it all before you make any purchases or plantings.

Pick Healthy Specimens

Finally, when you do narrow down your options to a few definite picks, it is vital that you visit your nursery and make your selections in person. Not all trees and shrubs are healthy from the start; if you buy a sickly plant, it will struggle to grow how you want it and might die despite your best gardening efforts. Here are a few ways to discern healthy specimens from those not destined to survive and thrive:

  • Long, straight trunk or main stem
  • Symmetry in form
  • Evenly spaced branches with no gaping spaces
  • No broken branches
  • Vibrant, seasonally appropriate foliage
  • No insects, fungus or signs of disease

If you aren’t sure whether a plant is healthy or not, it is best to avoid the gamble and pick a tree or shrub that is obviously robust. You can also ask associates at the nursery – if you trust their opinions.

If you can, you should purchase trees and shrubs from nurseries that offer planting services. This allows you to avoid the hassle of carting home your trees and shrubs, digging holes and maneuvering them into place all by yourself. Plus, nursery installation teams can position the plants currently, apply the right nutrients to the soil and keep everything looking neat and tidy, so you can begin enjoying your finished garden sooner.

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