Matching The Plant To The Site

It’s always fun to think about which shrubs you’d really like to have in your yard. But first, take a look at where you want to plant them. Find out about these aspects of your site first:
Climate zone. This information tells you how cold it gets during the winter. A shrub’s ability to withstand a given range of minimum temperatures is called its hardiness. For example, a shrub that is listed as hardy to Zone 5 can be expected to survive temperatures above minus 20° F. Check your local nursery for information about plants that are hardy in your area.
Soil conditions. Is your soil acid or alkaline, poorly drained or too dry, sandy or full of sticky clay, deep or shallow? A soil test will reveal such “hidden” problems and provide remedial recommendations.
Exposure. Is the site shaded or in full sun? Many shrubs do best in full sun, others in partial shade. A west-facing wall reflects afternoon sun and will be a much warmer spot than a north wall, which is shadier and therefore colder. Is the site protected from prevailing winds? Harsh winds can dry out soil and damage plants.
Growing space. A shrub should have room to grow to mature size without crowding its neighbors, obscuring other landscape features, butting against the side of the house, or buckling the driveway with roots. And who wants to spend time pruning back an irrationally exuberant shrub each season?

Purpose Of The Shrub

When planning for a new shrub, consider its ultimate purpose. A shrub has functional as well as ornamental value, so it is a good idea to consider whether the new plant could also serve another purpose, such as blocking an objectionable view, accenting the driveway entrance, reducing lawn size, attracting birds, and so on. The answers to these questions will help define more clearly exactly what kind of shrub will satisfy your needs.

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