When you are a beginner gardener it can at times seem daunting to venture out to a plant nursery to choose some shrubs for your garden. The incredible choose of plants can be mind boggling, and the decision on which ones best suit your garden, difficult. But before making a decision you will need to know a little bit about what types are best to purchase, and how to plant them.
Therefore I wrote this quick article centered around the topic of what a shrub actually is.
Shrubs In Garden Design:
Shrubs are an integral path of any garden design. You can use them as fillers around trees or as a backgrounds in borders, particularly in cottage garden. They can compliment any annual or perennial flowers you place in front of them.
When designing a garden it is also necessary to consider the shape of a shrub. This is particularly important when using them as a backing plants. They must be able to fit snugly into the spot provided.
Too often I have seen gardens where people have planted shrubs without any thought going into the design feature required. Sometimes you will see them positioned in front of smaller plants, or so close that they grow into each other.
Shrubs can also the utilized as hedge plants. There are literally hundreds of different plants available for every climatic and landscaping condition. Certain plants, such as some conifers, are fantastic plants to use in topiary.They can be cut and trimmed to make round, square or even triangular shapes. Some are excellent to trim into animal, conical or other more geometric forms.
They can also be used as dividers when constructing rooms in your garden. But this is something usually undertaken by more advanced gardeners.
You are able to purchase both deciduous and evergreen varieties. The most popular of the evergreen types, that are often utilized in a cottage garden, are members of the rhododendron group, including azaleas and camellias. There are also many other exotic and native shrubs available. The list is endless.
How to plant a shrub:
It is possible to purchase both seedlings or mature plants. It all depends on how quickly you want them to grow. Seedlings can however take a lot more work to keep alive. Personally I prefer reasonably mature shrubs that can fill an area rather quickly.
Make sure that when you plant you dig a hole that is large enough to allow root spread. Once you have placed the plant in the hole provided back fill it with a good mix of the soil that you dug out previously. You can add a small amount of fertilizer at this stage, just be certain that you use one that is suitable to your plants development.
You will also need to check the pH levels of the soil to be sure that the shrub will grow happily in the spot you have chosen.
If the soil is acidic and you need to increase the pH level, then you will need to add some Dolomite or lime. It is important that you only make the adjustments that are necessary. You are able to purchase a kit that can read soil PH levels and I suggest that you do so. Too much lime can be as bad as not enough.
Should your plant require lower pH levels then you can adjust the soil by using a product such as iron chelates.
When you have decided on what shrubs you wish to take home to plant in your garden, be certain they are healthy and have a good root ball and not one that is root bound. You should be able to take the plant out of the pot easily, if it won’t come out then you can be certain it’s root bound. Even if it does come out easily, check that the roots aren’t tightly massed together. It’s far easier to grow a healthy plant then a sick one.
Sometimes we can’t help but purchase root bound plants. Maybe it’s the only one they had and you really wanted it, or maybe you forgot to check at the garden center. Whatever the reason, you will need to carefully break up the roots so that they don’t strangle each other when planted. Sometimes you will need to get harsh and cut a whole heap off. If this is the case then you will need to trim back the plant as well so that it can overcome the shock of losing half it’s roots easier.
Digging The Hole:
You will now need to dig holes for the plants, make sure that they are big enough to hold the root system. The plant should not be placed in the hole too deeply. Back fill with soil slightly if this is the case. The shrub should not be planted too shallow either, ideally the soil level should be just above the top roots.
Once you have planted the shrub and filled the whole with soil, tamp it down slightly to remove any air pockets. After planting, the shrub should be well watered.
Fertilizing Your Plants:
Shrubs, just like most trees, don’t like to be over fertilized. Once established it will then be necessary to feed them. Continue this feeding for the first few years of their lifespan. Each shrub might require a different type or amount of fertilizer, this information should be available on either the tag supplied or from your garden center.
After a few years and the shrubs are more mature, you will be able to reduce the amount of fertilizer supplied. However, it won’t harm the shrubs to add a yearly supply of compost or old manure.
Mulching Your Plants:
It is also important to mulch your plants each year to prevent too many weeds from developing and competing for nutrients, as well as helping to hold moisture in the ground during hot weather.
I can’t over emphasis the need for using a good quality mulch. Some mulches, such as pine or wood chips can deplete nitrogen levels from the soil and cause the plant to stunt in size.
In a further article I will be discussing different types of shrubs available, in particular those that are popular with most gardeners and are easy to grow.
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Happy Gardening. Jim