What Can I Plant Instead of Shrubs?

If you’re a new gardener and haven’t been successful in your yard or garden, consider replacing some of your shrubs with other plants that will work well and require little effort. Among the options you’ll find are perennials, flowers and vegetables.

Rather than a large, clumping shrub, consider growing small trees or vines. They’re not only more interesting, they’ll also help you avoid the mess of pruning, weeding and trimming that comes with larger shrubs.

Evergreen Shrubs: If you’re looking for a hardy and durable plant that will withstand harsh weather, try evergreen shrubs. They often feature glossy leaves and colorful blooms. They’re a popular choice for a wide range of landscapes, especially since their leaves don’t brown down in winter.

For a bolder look, consider a shrub with foliage that changes color in the fall. For example, King’s Gold juniper (Juniperus squamata ‘King’s Gold’), Cripps gold spruce (Picea crippa ‘Gold Mops’) and blue star juniper (Juniperus japonica ‘Blue Star’) have beautiful foliage that will bring color to your yard.

In addition to providing year-round interest, evergreen shrubs provide shelter and protection for birds and other wildlife. They also reduce the need for mowing and provide an important source of food for pollinators.

To help your shrubs grow and thrive, add organic soil amendments to the top 8 inches of your planting bed. These amendments will help the roots establish better connections with the soil and develop a strong root system. In addition, organic matter helps aerate the soil and reduces compaction and evaporation.

Regardless of the type of shrub you choose, it’s crucial to water deeply and consistently after planting. Do this with a hose or sprinkler on the lowest setting. Make sure the shrub is completely saturated 8 to 10 inches deep and repeat watering once a week until it’s established.

One of the easiest shrubs to plant is a boxwood or other evergreen. These versatile bushes come in a variety of colors, sizes and heights. They can be used as a foundation plant or accented with other flowering shrubs.

Another option for a foundation plant is a hydrangea. These showy flowers come in a variety of colors, including pink, green, blue, purple and even white. They’re a great way to add a touch of whimsy to your front landscaping and can be positioned in areas that receive partial or full sun.

Aside from a little watering, hydrangeas are low maintenance and will not require much in the way of mowing or trimming. Depending on the type you select, they’ll grow between 6-8′ tall and are ideal for gardens with limited space.

In addition, hydrangeas are easy to care for and will add color to your landscape year-round. They can be found in varieties with white, pink, green and blue blossoms, and they’re hardy in zones 4-9.

Some other easy-to-grow shrubs include ghost plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense) and quince. They both have pretty foliage and are a popular choice for beginners, because they’re almost impossible to kill.