Backyard design is as simple as adding flowers or a complicated as installing a pool or hardscape. But no matter what your backyard plans may be trees and shrubs are a backbone to design. Their color, size and shape help blend the home and yard into a working design that adds enjoyment to you living area.
So what decisions should you make when selecting trees and shrubs?
Growing Zone: Your new plantings should relate to your growing zone. I know I cannot grow palm trees in my zone 5 climate. I could grow a crape myrtle but its technically a zone 6 and I am a zone 5 so I would have to baby it in the winter and would probably have to replace it after a harsh winter. Tip: You could check for a microclimate in your backyard or grow the specimen as a container plant.
Size: How tall will this tree grow? Will it invade the electric lines or break up a sidewalk or foundation wall? Does the over all size match the size of your home? Maples and oak tree look nice near a farmhouse or story house but dwarf a ranch style home. Check the growing tag and see how tall and wide the tree will grow.
Lighting and water: Does this shrub need a lot of light or will it do well in a grouping or under a tree? Will it tolerate wet feet or does it need a dry location. Also does it require a lot of water to survive? If you live in an arid climate you may want to select plants with low water needs.
Care: Does this plant need pruning, loose branches easily or have fruit that need so be picked up and disposed of? Some trees and shrubs have few diseases or care requirements. If you’re not a person who wants to spend a lot of time cleaning the backyard low maintenance planting are your best choices.
I have a weeping willow in my yard, which I really enjoy. But its constant care picking up branches after a storm and it also has a few insects that like to invade the trees so its high maintenance. When it’s gone I will probably not replace it.
Display: Will you select a plant that has winter color? How about fruit or berries? Shape may also be a choice. Harry Lauder’s walking stick makes an interesting display in the winter with its twisted branches. Pines add green to a barren winter landscape and flowering trees and bushes will add color all year long if selected carefully.
There are many considerations to be made when selecting new trees and shrubs but there is one that you should keep in mind while buying. That cute tiny plant will grow – remember to check the growing tag. The growing tag will give you information about daily care, planting and future care.
Your local extension office or conservation office has information on plants suitable for your area. Take advantage of their services. Your backyard will appreciate it!