a certified arborist and urban forester for over 37 years, I
have evaluated the health of woody shrubs growing in typical
urban landscapes many times over. It is very unusual for me
to encounter a yard, even a professionally designed and planted
one, that has well-placed shrubs that are not encroached upon by other garden features such as buildings,
fences, overhead wires, pools, patios, decks, planters, sidewalks,
driveways or other shrubs and trees.
The poor placement and poor establishment of shrubs (as well
as trees) in the home landscape are two of the most common reasons
why yard work can become a major chore. Most of us have listened
to homeowners (including ourselves) who complain about having
to prune out or remove crowded shrubs or trees. In particular,
far too many shrubs struggle to survive because we fail to recognize
that by the time these young plants reach maturity, they will
have grown in both height and width. Many gardeners plant close
together because they don't like to see large gaps in the yard
in the early years of landscaping. It seems that few people
ever make the perceptual connection between the potential growth
of woody plants and their placement.
When planning your yard, you can ease your workload and ensure
your shrubs' wellbeing by giving proper consideration to their
placement in relation to other components of your garden. Below
are some step-by-step planting guidelines, which can also be
followed when planting a small tree.