Bushes and shrubs perform an important role in many landscape designs. These medium-sized plants provide attractive shapes alone or in groups. Planted in hedges, bushes form barriers between yard areas and along property lines. As ornamental plantings, bushes create attractive forms in the center of yards and parks, along roadways and near structures. Like many other types of landscape plants, gardening with shrubs requires providing adequate care and performing regular maintenance, such as periodic pruning.
Bushes can grow between 2 and 20 feet in height. They contain multiple stems and form various shapes, either sprawling and spreading or growing in tight, compact shapes. Bushes include evergreen, deciduous, flowering and fruiting types. The types of bushes you grow and your overall landscape design help to determine their light and soil requirements, as well as the amount of pruning they require.
Flowering bushes, such as lilacs and butterfly bushes, display attractive blossoms in the spring or summer. Pruning can affect their ability to produce blossoms, encouraging masses of new flowers or removing important growth. Prune blossoming shrubs right after the flowers stop blooming. Prune evergreen shrubs early in the spring or late in the fall to encourage healthy growth. Deciduous bushes, including barberry and mock orange shrubs, enhance your yard with colorful foliage. Pruning these during dormancy reduces damage to their attractive growth.
Like trees and flowers, bushes require adequate amounts of soil nutrients, water and light, as well as periodic pruning. These requirements vary, depending on the types of bushes you grow in your landscape. While native bushes thrive with little help, other varieties often require frequent watering, soil amendments, fertilizers and protection from the elements.
Encourage healthy plants by planting them in the recommended type of soil and exposing them to their preferred amount of sunlight. Incorporate vegetative compost, such as pine bark or raked leaves, into compact soils to create well-drained sites for your bushes. Transplant shrubs into your yard by digging your holes at least twice the width of your plants' root balls. Prune off any broken or dead branches at the time of planting.
Feed your plants to replace lost soil nutrients. Use fertilizers labeled for use on your types of shrubs and apply these during the active stages of growth. Provide adequate moisture near the roots of your bushes. Regular deep watering reduces shallow roots and encourages healthy growth. Prune manicured hedges throughout the growing season to maintain their size and shape. Trim crowded growth from blossoming shrubs by thinning out the inner branches after the blossoming period. Shape non-flowering shrubs during the winter by snipping off sprawling, overgrown branches.