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Select and Plant Trees and Shrubs

Select and Plant Trees and Shrubs

Maximize your new home's value, comfort and curb appeal by planting trees and shrubs for a landscape that brims with year-round beauty. Trees and shrubs provide beauty and interest throughout the year — even in winter. However, because these plants are pricier than flowers or vegetables and can last for decades, make sure you pick the right ones, plant them properly and take good care of them.

Tools & Materials

Use this checklist when you go to the store and purchase your items.


Choosing Your Trees and Shrubs

Choosing Your Trees and Shrubs

Although you may be tempted to pick up a tree or shrub when new plants appear in the Lowe's Garden Center in spring, think about your overall landscaping plans first. Established trees and shrubs are difficult to move, so you need to plant them in the right place the first time — both for your yard and for the plants themselves. Learn more about planning and designing your yard's overall landscape.


Read all plant labels to ensure you choose the best trees and shrubs for your lifestyle. Pay attention to:

  • Light requirements. No amount of TLC will help a shade-loving tree or shrub survive the hot summer sun — or make a sun-loving plant thrive in the shade. Before you buy anything, know how many hours of direct, full sun a specific area of your yard receives and match it with the appropriate trees and shrubs. Here's how plant light needs are generally described:
    • Full sun: Prefers six or more hours of direct sunshine a day
    • Partial shade: Thrives in three to six hours of daily sunshine
    • Shade: generally does well with less than three hours of sun per day, but even shade-lovers will have trouble thriving in deeply shaded areas
  • Mature size. Pay attention to the tree or shrub's full-grown dimensions —both its diameter and height. Will the plant fit comfortably at full size in the intended spot? Be sure to take into account any power lines or overhangs that may become problematic as the tree or shrub reaches full size. Trees that will grow to be large should be planted far enough from your house so a falling limb won’t cause serious damage.
  • Recommended planting times. Plan to plant new trees and shrubs in early spring or fall. Planting in the summer and early winter is possible but challenging. Check out additional info on understanding frost and freeze dates. And always match a tree or shrub to the appropriate planting or hardiness zone. If you have any questions about which hardiness zone you live in, talk with a Lowe’s Garden Center Specialist.
  • Care requirements. Trees and shrubs need different levels of care and tending. Once planted, some evergreens, for example, require almost no special care for decades. Other trees drop leaves, need ongoing pruning and produce pods or fruit. If you want a low-maintenance landscape, talk with an associate at the Lowe's Garden Center about your plant selections before you purchase.

Think of your landscape in layers by height. For lush landscape, you want to fill each layer with a mix of plant types.

  • 0 to 18 inches: Flowers, flowering perennials and low shrubs
  • 18 inches to 3 feet: Flowering perennials and mid-size shrubs
  • 3 to 12 feet: Large shrubs and small ornamental trees
  • 12 feet and taller: Trees

Shrubs

Shrubs can give your landscape much more than greenery. Look for plants with attractive or colorful leaves, flowers, and fruits or berries (even if you can’t eat them, wildlife will thank you). Surefire shrubs include:

  • Butterfly bush
  • Barberry
  • Spirea
  • Evergreens, including junipers, yews, spruces and firs
  • Shrub dogwoods, particularly red twig dogwood

Ornamental Trees

Ornamental trees are often smaller than traditional trees and are loved for their gorgeous foliage, dramatic flower displays, beautifully shaped limbs and surprising colors in spring or fall. Some favorites include:

  • Crab apple
  • Red bud
  • Dogwood
  • Japanese maple
  • Serviceberry

Shade Trees

Shade trees are large — some varieties can grow more than 50 feet tall and spread branches more than 25 feet from their trunks. When properly planted and cared for, a tree can provide decades of shade and natural beauty. Get started with the following:

  • Oaks such as the Nuttall oak and pin oak. Bear in mind, however, that oaks can get very large and overwhelm the average suburban yard
  • Hard maples such as the autumn blaze, crimson king, sugar and Norway. Avoid soft maples, such as silver maple
Avoid ash and elm trees, which have several diseases and insect-related problems in the United States.
Five days before you begin digging to plant any tree or shrub, call 811 or your local utility locator service number to mark underground water, electrical, gas and cable lines in your yard and garden. Digging into lines can be very dangerous — even fatal — and the service call is free.


Getting Your Hands Dirty: Planting Trees and Shrubs

Planting Trees and Shrubs

While it may take several hours, the process of planting a new tree or shrub is simple:


Step 1

Dig a hole with your shovel. Put all removed soil on a tarp or in a wheelbarrow. Create a hole that allows room on the sides of the container as well as at the root. Check your digging progress by placing the plant in the hole or using the shovel handle to measure. When you have the proper-sized hole, make sure the plant base sits level and securely in the opening.


Step 2

In the wheelbarrow or on the tarp, mix the removed soil with new topsoil. You can mix in compost at this point.


Step 3

Remove the tree or shrub from its container. Lift the plant close to its base. You can use a utility knife to cut the container open or off. Gently loosen the root ball and place the plant in the hole.
Note: Trees and shrubs wrapped in natural burlap can be untied and dropped in the hole. The burlap will decay over time.


Step 4

Rotate the plant and find the best position to showcase its best shape and branches.


Step 5

Use a shovel to backfill the hole with the mixed soil. Fill about half the hole, then tamp the soil firmly with your foot. Finish filling the hole and tamp again. Rake the soil smooth and cover with 2 to 4 inches of mulch.


Step 6

Thoroughly water the tree or shrub. Allow for 20 minutes or so of direct watering with a soaker hose or a slow-trickling sprinkler.

Water new trees and shrubs two to three times weekly throughout the growing season during the plant's first year. Wait at least one year before trimming newly planted trees and shrubs. Plants need a period of uninterrupted growth to establish their roots.

Forget the Guesswork