Landscapes are increasingly becoming an extension of our homes and an expression of who we are. Trends towards outdoor living and concern for the environment shape our ideas of what to plant. No matter your intent, when you consider the best shrubs for your landscape keep pest-resistance, color, hardiness, disease-resistance and how much care the plant needs in mind.
Rose of Sharon
This deciduous, flowering shrub can grow to 8 feet tall. The quick-growing plant has multiple stems with white, purple, red or blue flowers. Because Rose of Sharon blooms continuously throughout the growing season and is easy to prune it makes a good addition to the landscape either as a single plant or warm weather hedge. It's fairly drought tolerant and heat-resistant. After it stops blooming and the leaves fall, the plant can look rather sparse and bare. The USDA recommends zones 5 through 9 as optimal for Rose of Sharon.
The bright yellow blooms that appear on the forsythia before the leaves are often the first flowers in the landscape in the spring. Different varieties of the bush grow from 3 feet to 8 feet tall. It grows quickly into a wild, irregular shape but tolerates pruning well. Forsythia is a good border plant during the growing season when it is fully leafed out. It also provides privacy around porches, pools and decks. When used this way, the plant should be kept pruned. Naturalized forsythia bushes make attractive landscape highlights. The plant is hardy to zone 5.
There is such a profusion of rose bush sizes, varieties and bloom colors that deciding which to add to your landscape can be confusing. Floribundas, grandifloras and hybrid tea roses all thrive under the right conditions and add color to the garden. Shrub roses are disease-resistant and low maintenance. Varieties include Cuthbert Grant, Jen Munk and Therese Bugnet. Landscape roses grow close to the ground. Starry Night won the 2002 All-America Rose prize for best new landscape rose. There are roses for almost any hardiness zone.
Over 400 varieties of hollies exist, ranging in size from tall trees to dwarf bushes. English holly trees can grow to 70 feet tall and the branches can spread the same distance. Evergreen varieties of holly are helpful additions to the landscape because their green leaves don't fall in the winter. Hollies make very effective borders and privacy screens. They tolerate pruning and will grow back quickly. If you want holly berries, you must plant both male and female bushes. The berries are an important source of food for birds during the winter months. American holly is hardy to zone 5.