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Everything You Need to Know About Shrubs

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Everything You Need to Know About Shrubs

July 17, 2017

Shrubs define a garden. You can rely on them to frame a garden bed, to be the “walls” of an outdoor room, to create curb appeal, or for privacy.

Use our brand-new field guide, Shrubs 101, to learn everything you need to know about our favorite shrubs. Whether you’re designing a garden from scratch or adding a single shrub to a landscape, our guide offers tips on when (or if) to expect a particular shrub to bloom, what size it will reach at maturity, how much water it needs, if it’s perennial in your growing zone, and whether it’s evergreen or deciduous.

Shrubs 101 is part of our new Garden Design 101 section, offering design tips and practical advice on Hardscape 101 topics as well as growing guides for Trees, Perennials, Vines & Climbers, Tropical Plants, Edibles, Succulents & CactiBulbs & Tubers, Annuals, Grasses, and Houseplants.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll find in our Shrubs 101 guide:

Boxwoods

Photograph by Nicole Franzen for Gardenista.
Above: Photograph by Nicole Franzen for Gardenista.

A long-lived perennial shrub, boxwoods are universally flattering; use them as a backdrop, foil, or focal point in the garden. From dwarf varieties no more than 2 feet tall to towering 16-foot-specimens, our Boxwoods Field Guide has tips on planting, care, and design.

Lilacs

Photograph by Justine Hand for Gardenista.
Above: Photograph by Justine Hand for Gardenista.

There is nothing common about the common lilac—or any of the other hundreds of species of Syringa, a long-lived and divinely scented perennial shrub with spring flowers in shades of purple, blue, white, or pink (depending on the variety). We could go on and on about lilacs, Michelle’s mother’s favorite shrub. See more in our Lilacs Field Guide.

Privets

 Photograph by Matthew Williams.
Above:  Photograph by Matthew Williams.

With nearly 50 species, privets grow fast and can be pruned hard without consequence; this semi-evergreen shrub’s goal is to defend your privacy. (Careful: privets are considered invasive in some regions.) Read more in our Privets Field Guide.

Forsythia

 Photograph by Joe Shlabotnik via Flickr.
Above:  Photograph by Joe Shlabotnik via Flickr.

Although its natural habit is gangly, Forsythia will tolerate being shaped into a neat hedge. Beyond its dramatic springtime presence, forsythia is useful in the garden as a fast-growing hedge or specimen plant. Expect it to grow 12 feet wide by 10 feet high and leave plenty of space; it will gain as much as 24 inches in a year. See more in our Forsythia Field Guide.

Photograph by Nicole Franzen for Gardenista.
Above: Photograph by Nicole Franzen for Gardenista.

Our curated Shrubs 101 guide also covers Azalea, Bayberry, Hydrangea, Mahonia, Mistletoe, Paperbush, Pincushion Protea, Red Twig DogwoodSmoke Bush, Viburnum, Witch Hazel, and Yew. We’ll be adding new shrubs every week. If there’s a shrub you’d particularly like us to add to our guides, please let us know in the comments section.

Finally, get more ideas on how to plant, grow, and care for various shrubs and hedges with our Shrubs: A Field Guide.

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