We don't mean to be nosy, but how old are your shrubs?
Can't think back that far? Your grandmother planted them? Leisure suits were in style?
They're probably too old. Shrubs don't last forever.
What’s the lifespan of shrubs? When is it time to replace them? How do you keep them looking great longer?
Joey Schneider, branch manager at Level Green Landscaping, has the answers.
What’s The Lifespan of Shrubs?
“A lot of people think once a shrub is planted, it's there forever,” Schneider says. “If you get 10 to 15 years out of your shrub, you’ve gotten your money’s worth.”
We know what you’re thinking: It still has all its leaves! It’s been here forever and I’m sort of attached to it! Why do I need a new one?
“There’s a difference between being alive and looking good enough to add aesthetic value to your property,” he says. “An old juniper could still be alive after 30 years but it’s past its viability. It’s probably overgrown. Maybe it has bare spots.”
It’s time to let it go.
What Affects The Lifespan of Shrubs?
Shrubs planted on a parking lot island endure extra heat surrounded by hot asphalt, pedestrian traffic, car exhaust. It all takes a toll.
Photinia are susceptible to photinia blight. Knock-out roses are hit hard by rose rosacea.
“When a plant gets popular, disease or pests often attack,” Schneider says, “because there’s suddenly an abundance of them."
Sometimes a shrub that loves shade gets planted in the sun, stressing it from the very beginning. Or maybe a sun-loving plant was planted in the sun — but over time, surrounding trees grew, shading it. Shrubs need the right conditions.
Snow, ice, bitter wind, scorching sun, drought — all wear down a shrub over time.
Shrubs Can Date Your Property
Some shrubs just look outdated, Schneider says, making your property look tired and outdated, too.
In the 1980s everybody planted juniper. Now, nobody does.
Those old juniper are often scraggly and overgrown, encroaching on windows and entrances.
Today, shrubs like crape myrtle are in style.
“Plants go in and out of fashion, just like clothes,” Schneider says.
It may be time to update your property’s wardrobe to keep up with the more stylish competition.
How To Keep Shrubs Healthy
Proper care will extend the lifespan of shrubs, keeping them happy and healthy for as long as possible.
Most shrubs don’t like being sheared into tight boxes or spheres. They prefer a looser, more natural pruning.
“A lot of people think tightly clipped shrubs is what it means to have good landscaping,” Schneider says. “But the best pruning, you won’t even really notice. Your shrub will just look really good all the time.”
The Right Mulch Depth
“You don’t want to pile mulch up around the base of a shrub,” he says. “That creates a home for insects, who will attack the trunk.”
Fertilizing When Needed
“Azaleas and roses really love fertilizer, but evergreens need very little,” he says.
Integrated Pest Management
“Most pests attack at certain times of year,” Schneider says. “We’re always on the lookout so we can treat them early, before they can do a lot of damage.”
Schneider’s Favorite Shrubs
You can’t talk to a shrub expert without asking him about his favorites. Here are a few of Schneider’s top picks for beautiful, healthy, long-lasting shrubs:
More disease resistant than its English or American counterpart, this small mounded shrub has glossy light green leaves and is great for short hedges.
“And it doesn’t get too big,” he says.
Hardy and easy to care for, spring-blooming spirea has cascading clusters of white flowers on graceful, arching branches. The summer-blooming spirea offers pretty pink, white or red flowers atop upright branches.
An old-fashioned favorite, this shrub has interesting foliage, showy flowers and comes in a wide range of colors.
Dwarf Crape Myrtle
Gorgeous flowers, pretty foliage and interesting bark have made the crape myrtle a landscape favorite, and the dwarf variety packs all this into just four feet. In the fall, its green leaves turn yellow, orange, or red.
These beauties come in dozens of colors and varieties and they re-bloom in late summer and fall.
Update Your Shrubs With Level Green
Here at Level Green, we’re shrub experts. We know all the tips and tricks to keeping shrubs happy and healthy for as long as possible.
And when you need new ones, we’ll help you pick the perfect varieties for your property.
If you’re not already a Level Green Landscaping client, we’d love to add you to our growing list of happy customers. Our focus is on commercial properties like offices, mixed-use sites, HOAs, municipalities and institutions in Maryland, Washington DC and parts of Virginia.
Contact us at 202-544-0968. You can also request a free consultation online to meet with us one-on-one.
We’d love to hear from you.
Image source: Korean Boxwood