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Get Shrubs Off to the Right Start with Forward Planning

For most kinds of shrubs, fall is the ideal planting season. Early spring comes in a close second, however, and miles ahead of late spring, at which point new shrubs face potential stress from heat, humidity and drought as summer arrives. Therefore, if you opt to plant new shrubs in your garden this spring, be sure to get to the task as early as possible.

the creative shrub garden
  • Start with a good all-around reference book, such as Andy McIndoe's The Creative Shrub Garden, which recommends shrubs for foliage, flower and fruit, describes their needs and care, and explains how to create a low-maintenance, year-round garden by basing it on shrubs.
  • Plan what shrubs you'll plant and where before winter ends.
  • As winter winds down, make sure planting tools are sharp and clean and any necessary soil amendments are on hand.
  • Research sources, be they local or mail order, to appropriately time your purchases. Many mail-order nurseries will take your order earlier than you can plant and then ship it to you as soon as the weather becomes favorable in your area. Take advantage of such "pre-ordering" so you don't miss out on your desired varieties.
  • Be ready to plant new shrubs as soon as the soil is workable and its surface has thawed, even temporarily. As Andy McIndoe describes in his book The Creative Shrub Garden: "Frost after planting is not a problem for hardy shrubs, as the roots are better insulated in the ground than they are in a plastic pot. It is not a good idea to plant when the soil surface is frozen. This results in frost being buried during planting, which makes the soil colder for the roots and potentially causes damage.

Make your plant choices appropriate for your home's era with American Home Landscapes, which chronicles trends in gardening throughout United States history.

Choose shrubs to spruce up your landscape's overall look with the book Refresh Your Garden Design with Color, Texture and Form.

Round out a shrub-based garden plan with the planting-companion ideas in Bloom's Best Perennials and Grasses.