I'm trying to find sources of inspiration for designing a border with
primarily shrubs. I'm not sure how to combine shrubs from a design
perspective. Should I have groupings, how many to a group, how to combine
groups, height, like/unlike foliage together, evergreens/deciduous together,
etc.? How do I design the border in an attractive way? There are many
sources of info on combining perennials aesthetically, but I have not found
anything on designing with shrubs. Does anyone have any ideas/suggestions?
Lots of contrast between the foliage of the different shrubs -- both in
terms of colour and texture.
Plant odd numbered groups of plants.
Use larger groups the further the planting is from your primary vantage
point. One downside of this is that it might make your garden look a little
Short plants to the front. Tall to the back.
If your planting flowering shrubs, remember that darker-coloured or more
sparcely flowering shrubs should probably be placed closer to your primary
vantage point -- they'll just melt into the foliage at a distance.
Be sure to leave "some" room at the front for other types of plants --
perennials and/or annuals. You may not be thinking of planting these things
now but there will come a time when (for example) you'd like a few pockets
of impatiens to add some colour and/or visual interest to the front of a
shady shrub border. A nice alternative is to place paving stones etc.
strategically as bases for planters/pots of your favourite tender flowers.
Do yourself a big favour and plan your border on the basis of the mature
size of the shrubs. Done properly, and if you can wait a few years (how few
depends on the shrub), a shrub border can be relatively care free with only
maintenance pruning needed.
Covering the bed with an attractive, functional mulch is not only good for
the plants but often surprisingly important esthetically.
Give massive thought to the moisture requirements of your preferred shrubs.
Plan to lay down drip or weeping hoses (which can be covered by the mulch if
it is thick enough.
Finally, you will never go too far wrong by digging in as much compost as
you can get your hands on.
Last, and most importantly, test and correct any deficiencies in the soil
*relative* to your plants requirements. In other words if you're going to
plant something that requires well drained soil you'd better make sure it
gets well drained soil. Also, for example, don't plant acid-loving shrubs
in sweet soil (unless you want to spend a lifetime amending it).
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