It can be mind boggling selecting the right landscaping shrubs for your backyard. There are literally 1000’s of different types of shrubs for you to choose from. The easiest way to start the process of picking the right shrub, is the process of elimination.
The first thing you should know your plant Hardiness Zone, this will reduce your selection quite a bit.
Sun or Shade
Next you want to look at the light conditions in your backyard. Sketch up a map of your backyard and then mark the areas that are full sun, partial sun or shade.
This can eliminate some more shrubs, because some yards will be only full sun while others might have a mixture of full sun and shade.
Here are some general rules for light exposure. Shrubs that are planted with northern exposure very rarely get any direct sunlight. So you would want to choose shrubs that grow well in the shade.
Shrubs that are planted with southern light exposure, will get sunlight all day long. This area is best to plant trees, shrubs and flowering plants that require full sun.
Shrubs that are planted on the east, only receive morning sun. So you should select plants that are labeled for partial sun.
If you are planting shrubs on the west side or with western exposure to the light. Choose shrubs that are for full sun and can tolerate the afternoon heat from the sun.
Now you want to look at what soil conditions you have in the areas you are planning to plant the shrubs. You need to know what type of soil you have, the three most common types of soil are clay, sand and loamy.
Almost any landscape shrub will not do well in heavy clay soil. If you find that you have heavy clay soil you will need to improve it. The best way to do this is by adding 2 to 3 inches of organic material to the top six inches of your soil.
Wet or Dry
The same goes for areas that are wet or stay wet, you will need to improve those areas too.
Next look at the area you will be planting and determine if it will be wet, medium or dry. Many landscape shrubs will fall into the medium to dry category and is often referred to as well drained soil. Some shrubs can handle wetter conditions, but most often you will need a well drained soil.
Now comes the fun part of this whole process, you want to make a list of all the colors that you like and the shapes or forms of the shrubs you are wanting in your backyard.
The reason behind the shapes and forms, is that some shrubs will be better for making a formal looking backyard, while others are best used for an informal look.
Another thing that is most often overlooked with choosing landscaping shrubs is the winter landscape. You should always plan your landscape to include shrubs with winter interest.
By now you should have a map and list that shows you what type of landscaping shrubs you will want to be shopping for.