The pitfall of many landscape designs is failure to take into account the changing shape and size of the plants when they reach maturity. Many homeowners plant shrubbery much too close together, so that in a year or two the shrubs are choking each other out. Or they may plant very aggressive hedges, never realizing how tall they'll eventually get, and how difficult they'll be to maintain. If you wish to landscape with shrubs and hedges, there are a few simple things to consider before planting.
Sketch out the design you imagine, notating where you want shrubs and where you'd like hedges. A hedge is simply several of the same type of shrub planted in a line to eventually form a solid plant wall. A hedge is generally allowed to grow higher than other plants in the landscape design.
Select shrubbery that lends itself to your design. For instance, if you want your hedge to hide an ugly fence that is four feet high, purchase shrubbery that is meant to grow that tall. Likewise, if you are trying to fill in a bed that already has some accent plants, choose shrubbery that will not outgrow and interfere with those plants.
Consider the placement of your shrubs, being certain that when they reach maturity, they will not interfere with power lines, roofs or other established plants. Find out if the shrubbery is deciduous (drops its leaves in the fall) and be sure the fallen leaves won't end up in your pool, fountain or flower beds.
Create a hedge by spacing shrubs on 30-inch centers. This will give the plant room to flourish, and its roots to spread deep and wide. Use hedges as a backdrop to other plants. In other words, put the hedge behind other plantings.
Place individual shrubs in areas where they can mature without damaging other plants. A pleasing shrubbery placement is a triangle pattern. Shrubs are also effective in multi-tiered landscapes, where there is a hedge, then shrubs in front of the hedge and finally, on the lowest tier in front of the shrubs, annuals or ground cover.