Fall is for planting, and fall will soon be upon us. I don’t mean to rush summer away but fall planting conditions actually begin to appear in late August.
When making your fall planting plans, may I suggest low maintenance shrubs? After all, your landscape’s main reason for being is to provide you with enjoyment, not work. There aren’t any no-maintenance plants but plenty are low maintenance.
The first step to assuring that a shrub will be low maintenance is to plant the right plant in the right place. Even shrubs sold as low maintenance will be high maintenance if planted in the wrong place. Some of the care needs for low maintenance shrubs include:
• Watering. If they don’t get the inch of water a week that they need from rain, they’ll need supplemental watering.
• Fertilization, at least when they are young and just getting established.
• Annual mulching.
When buying your low maintenance shrubs, be sure to read the tag for care instructions. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask one of the garden center horticulturists. They are plant people trained to be sure you are satisfied when you leave the store, and after the plants you bought have matured. Some of the low maintenance characteristics you should look for include…
• Disease and insect resistance. You don’t want to constantly be treating them to control insects and diseases.
• Making sure they are hardy to our USDA zone 5 climate and that they can tolerate the big swings in weather conditions that we experience.
• When fully grown, the shrub has to fit the space allotted for it and it shouldn’t spread beyond its borders so that you have to prune it back every year. Selecting compact varieties of the species you want will reduce the need for frequent pruning. The dwarf blue spruce pictured is a good example.
If your idea of low maintenance includes going to work one morning with an empty space in your yard and coming back to a nice, new shrub, our landscape installation professionals can make that happen. They can also advise you on plant selection – which ones are good choices and which trendy new introductions are destined to be in vogue only for a short time. Planting trendy shrubs could make your house look dated when they go out of style in a few years.
Is that a little blue spruce? We happen to be considering one or a new landscape this autumn. One installed, it is very low maintenance just because it does not grow enough to need any attention. However, the problem that I have with it in other situations is that so-called ‘gardeners’ will shear it anyway, just because they can reach it with their power shears. Those with irregular form accommodate selective pruning (not shearing) better than those with conical form. The conical sorts are great if left to their own devices, but can be ruined if pruned.