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Design Tips for Blooming Trees and Shrubs

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

It can sometimes seem like a challenge to put blooming trees and shrubs to use. It's easy, though, if you just follow a few simple design strategies.

They wow us each Spring with their cheerful, bright flowers, but it can sometimes seem like a challenge to put these dazzling woody plants to use. it's easy, though, if you just follow a few simple design strategies.

Fill The Canvas

To disguise a wall or fence, use a mix of heights, such as the lilac, redbud, and fothergilla, above. Think of a painting: You want to fill the whole canvas, not just the bottom portion. This will result in a more interesting and natural look.

A. Lilac (Syringa vulgaris):

  • Mature Height: 8–15 Feet
  • Growing Zones: 3–9

B. Redbud (Cercis canadensis):

  • Mature Height: 20–30 Feet
  • Growing Zones: 4–9

C. Fothergilla (Fothergilla major):

  • Mature Height: 6–8 Feet
  • Growing Zones: 5–9


Weigela sprawling over a low wall

Get Into Shape

If you’ve got a plant with an unusual shape, show it off. This weigela (D), looks particularly nice sprawling over a low wall. The shape is something you can enjoy all year, not just for a few weeks in spring.

D. Weigela (W. florida):

  • Mature Height: 6–9 Feet
  • Growing Zones: 5–8
Forsythia in bloom with tulips

Think Long Term

In bloom, this forsythia (E), left, can hold its own—with or without the tulips. After petals fall, it can use some help. That’s when summer bulbs and annuals are useful.

E. Forsythia (F. x intermedia):

  • Mature Height: 8–10 Feet
  • Growing Zones: 5–8
White spirea and purple lilac

Use Color

Spring flowers may be fleeting, but they should still coordinate. White is the easiest color to work with because it goes with everything. Use it to add contrast, as the white spirea (F) does to the purple lilac (A), below. Or, put it to work separating colors that might otherwise clash.

F. Vanhoutte Spirea (Spiraea vanhouttei):

  • Mature Height: 6–10 Feet
  • Growing Zones: 4–9
Rhododendron and flowering dogwood

Remember Foliage

When blooms drop, foliage becomes more important. Plants with large and small leaves, such as the rhododendron (G) and flowering dogwood (H), right, create attractive textural differences to enjoy in summer.

G. Rhododendron (Rhododendron spp.):

  • Mature Height: 3–10 Feet
  • Growing Zones: 4–9

H. Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida):

  • Mature Height: 25–30 Feet
  • Growing Zones: 5–9


Saucer magnolia near house

Take It Back

Don’t get so carried away with spring blooms that you forget about a plant’s mature size. Even small flowering trees like this saucer magnolia (I), below, should be set back 8 feet or more from a house (15 feet for larger trees). If space is lacking, substitute a shrub.

I. Saucer Magnolia (M. x soulangeana):

  • Mature Height: 15–20 Feet
  • Growing Zones: 4–9


Learn more about trees and shrubs.