Planting season has begun, and one area that homeowners often need help with is choosing shrubs.
“One key thing we hear most often from customers is, ‘I want low maintenance,’” says Kim Hartmann, landscape designer at Countryside Flower Shop, Nursery and Garden Center, in Crystal Lake. “They don’t want a lot of pruning, deadheading, and treatments for diseases or insects.”
Location is key. Choose a shrub that will thrive in your space based on sunlight and drainage needs. Equally important — check its mature size. A shrub two feet tall in the nursery may grow to 10 feet.
“Our big challenges here are our clay soil, which is more alkaline, and our wet springs, followed by a hot, dry July and August,” Hartmann says. Best performing are paniculata hydrangeas, which grow on old wood in full sun and bloom for a long time. Varieties vary from 3 to 10 feet, and include ‘Limelight,’ ‘Quick Fire’ and ‘Pinky Winky.’
Another favorite is the ninebark, including the ‘Center Glow,’ ‘Summer Wine’ and ‘Little Devil’ varieties, known for their beaufiul coppery burgundy foliage and white blooms. Their bark provides winter interest, as well.
For shady lawns viburnum, native to the area, is easily adapted to Midwest soil and extremes in weather. Known for their spring flower, white lacecap and red or blue fruit in fall are a favorite of the birds. Best vareties are ‘Chicago Lustre,’ ‘Blue Muffin’ and ‘Korean Spice.”
For evergreens, choose boxwood. Best performing varieties include globe-shaped ‘Green Velvet’ and upright ‘Green Mountain.’ “They’re the go-to broadleaf evergreen for year-round green and not a lot of pruning,” says Hartmann.
Finally, says Hartmann, look at what you want a shrub for — a privacy screen, to attract wildlife, a flowering shrub, a fruit-bearing shrub. “The list goes on and on. A lot has to do with how you want to enjoy your outdoor spaces and how can those shrubs take you there?” Stop in Countryside anytime for expert help with your lawn, garden and landscape needs.