Replacing overgrown shrubs

Question: I recently bought a home with a mature landscape that I do not like. The shrubs have been sheared so they are all round balls or boxy hedges. Some have lost their leaves at the bottom and look top heavy. Is there any way to restore the natural shape of these shrubs or should I just replace them? Do you have some ideas about how to go about replacing them?

Answer: The main problem with most mature landscapes is overgrown top growth. In many cases, shrubs have grown together so they no longer have their individual shape or character. Even in relatively young landscapes, there may be shrubs that will soon be overcrowded. In some cases you can remove some of the extra shrubs before they have completely grown together. This will allow the remaining ones to retain their natural shape. If it is too late to do anything but remove an entire row or group of shrubs, you may want to make some plans on what you will use as replacements.

There are lots of books on plants and landscaping at the library. Selection of garden books is at its best now at most book stores. One of the best books for plant selection is Sunset Western Garden book. A new edition has recently been released. It has the most complete selection of plants

Full service nurseries and garden stores can help you select locally adapted plants. Be sure to measure the height and width of planting areas. Replanting with plants which reach a mature size greater than their allotted space will result in the same problem a few years from now. A sketch on graph paper can be very helpful. Consider widening beds near buildings so that you can leave some space between shrubs and the building.

Limit the different kinds of shrubs you plant. In most cases clusters of 3 or more of the same shrub are more attractive than individuals. Individual specimen plants may combine well with clusters of other plants. Consult books on landscape design for ideas about attractive groupings. If you are planning to do extensive landscape remodeling, a landscape architect or designer may be a good investment.

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