By Julie A. Martens
Count on shrubs to create a backbone of structure and color in your yard. You might draft shrubs to form a privacy screen, like this hedge of PeeGee hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora’). This old-fashioned favorite, above, makes an easy-care hedge but can be demanding if grown as a small tree.
Creating a hedge is just one landscape role shrubs can fill. They also can blend with perennials, enhance wildlife gardens, and accent outdoor living spaces. Discover low-maintenance shrubs that thrive in Mid-Atlantic gardens:
Pathway Garden: Low Maintenance
Complement a pathway with small shrubs that won’t hinder foot traffic such as dwarf globe blue spruce (Picea pungens ‘Glauca globosa’) and boxwood (Buxus).
These slow-growth-rate shrubs boast low-maintenance personalities. Boxwood is sensitive to salt, so in snowy parts of the Mid-Atlantic, use a plant-friendly ice-melt product for walkways.
Foundation Plantings: Pollinator Friendly
Trade traditional foundation shrubs for pollinator-friendly beauties such as Hummingbird summersweet (Clethra alnifolia ‘Hummingbird’).
White blooms appear all summer and beckon pollinators that include butterflies, bees, and, as the name implies, hummingbirds. The native shrub is excellent for a wildlife garden or soggy site. Choose ‘Hummingbird’ summersweet for a compact size (roughly 3 to 4 ft tall and wide) that pairs nicely with shrub roses and daylilies.
Vertical Interest: Miniature Spruce
Strategically placed shrubs add vertical interest to mounding perennials. Dwarf Alberta spruce (Picea glauca ‘Conica’) and lavender stage a sparkling combination.
A slow growth rate makes dwarf Alberta spruce a low-maintenance gem.
Vertical Interest: Colorful Column
Even the smallest space can host a shrub when you select one with a narrow shape.
Helmond Pillar barberry (Berberis thunbergii ‘Helmond Pillar’) accents the landscape with a burgundy exclamation point. It occupies a modest 12- to 24-in footprint. For strong design impact use pillar barberry with mounding or low-growing perennials or shrubs.
More Shrubs for Mid-Atlantic Landscapes
Want to discover more low-maintenance shrubs? Visit local and regional public gardens to expand your shrub palette. Or take a garden tour to see varied shrubs in home settings.
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