Choosing Shrubs for Your Landscape

Choosing Shrubs for Your Landscape

I've been writing in my last few blog posts about the benefits of planting in the fall. And this includes planting shrubs as well as grasses and perennials.

In our effort to add really unique perennials and annuals to our gardens, we can overlook the value of shrubs. Maybe it's because they can seem a bit boring. But shrubs can provide a great filler for larger beds and become a nice backdrop for flowering perennials and annuals. Adding shrubs to my backyard in the area in front of my deck, reduced the amount of annuals I needed to plant and care for and provided a nice screen to the open area under the deck.

When I had our front yard professionally landscaped over 20 years ago, I worked with the landscaper to choose shrubs that provided a lot of different textures to compliment the house and the pavers we were installing. We kept the amount of perennials in this area to just enough to add a pop of color and let the shrubs really be the stars. 

If you choose shrubs carefully, they can  be a low maintenance addition to your landscape. My favorite reason to grow shrubs is that they can provide multiple seasons of interest.

Read on to find out about 4 of my favorite shrubs that add color, texture and interest to my yard.

#1 Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus Alba

Red Twig Dogwood

I bought this plant almost 20 years ago. My friends at work gave me a gift certificate to a garden center as a sympathy gift when my beloved dog (who was also my favorite gardening buddy) passed away. I chose this shrub in his honor.

This plant is extremely cold-hardy to USDA Zone 3. Mine is planted in a corner of a very large bed. Since this plant can grow to 10 ft high and several feet wide it does a great job softening the corner of our garage. During the spring it fills out with green leaves. In summer, white flowers bloom.

For most of the year, it provides a nice backdrop for other plants. But the most compelling reason for planting this shrub is winter interest. In late fall, as the leaves drop, the twigs turn blood red as shown in the photo above. They look gorgeous against a snowy landscape and provide much-needed color at a dreary time of year.

​​​​​​​#2 Beauty Berry (Callicarpa)

Beauty Berry

The Beauty Berry comes in many varieties. Callicarpa americana, the American Beauty Berry is native to the United States but is only hardy to Zone 6. So if you live in a colder zone, you'll need to purchase one hardy in your area. I have 3 of these in a cluster in the landscaping at the front corner of my house.

Throughout most of the growing season they are pretty uninteresting. They really shine in the late summer into fall when these beautiful purple berries appear. Well worth the wait.

#3 Weigela "Wine and Roses"


Wegeila comes in many varieties as well. But 'Wine and Roses'  is my favorite. This is the shrub that I have planted along the front of my deck. It is very low maintenance, just requiring a trimming every once in a while in order to keep the plant to the height you want.

In early summer we are treated to these beautiful blooms that last for several weeks. For the rest of the growing season the shrub provides a nice soft screen for the front our our deck.

#4 Oak Leaf Hydrangea 

I absolutely love these. They are one of the most interesting shrubs that you can plant in a shady yard. I have one variety that surrounds a tree at a front corner of our home. The plants shown above are another larger variety that provides a backdrop to a flower bed at the edge of the woods. And finally I have a 'Snow Queen' that has grown so tall, I have shaped it from shrub to tree.
These plants begin the growing season by setting beautiful oak-leaf shaped leaves. In early summer, the white flower clusters appear.  We leave them on the plant as they die off and turn brown because they are still pretty and interesting. Finally as the leaves drop in the fall, the rough bark on the stems provides interest in the winter landscape.
Are you planning a new addition to your landscape this year? What shrubs will you use or do you already have that you just love.
Please comment below - I'd love to hear from you!

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