Shrubs structure and fill out your garden, adding density and dimensionality where it's most needed. They're simpler to install than you may know. Here, we walk you through it.
Shrubs form the backbone of a garden plan, providing structure as well as flowers and foliage. Plants grown in containers can be planted year-round if you avoid days when the ground is frozen, or excessively wet or dry. Before planting, always check the label for the shrub's preferred site and soil.
It should take you about an hour to plant a shrub.
Dig over the soil thoroughly, removing any weeds and working in plenty of well-decomposed manure or compost. Make the planting hole twice the diameter of the container and a little deeper.
Stand the plant in its container in a bucket of water and leave it to soak. Remove the plant from its pot and tease out any thick, encircling roots. Plant at the same depth it was in its pot. Backfill with soil.
Firm soil gently, ensuring the shrub is upright and that it is sitting in the most shallow spot in the hole. Water generously, then spread a mulch of organic matter, keeping it away from the stems.
Mulches conserve water, which is why they are always applied after planting when the ground is moist. Some improve soil structure and most discourage weeds, which compete with plants for water and nutrients. Gravel mulches look attractive while others, such as leafmold, offer a habitat for beneficial creatures such as ground beetles. Here are four kinds of mulches for you to consider using:
Mature compost and manure lock moisture and nutrients into the soil. As the mulch breaks down it releases plant food and improves the soil structure. Apply a layer 4 inch deep in late winter to minimize weed growth.
Although low in nutrients, leaves are excellent for improving soil and retaining moisture, and look good around woodland-style plantings. To make leafmold mulch, fill perforated trash bags with fall leaves, seal up and leave for about 18 months.
A popular mulch, bark comes in various sizes, the smallest being the most ornamental. It breaks down slowly and is a good weed suppressor and moisture conserver, but doesn’t add many nutrients. An area mulched with bark sill need to have its worn areas replenished annually.
Gravel laid over landscape fabric creates a decorative weed-suppressant foil for alpines and Mediterranean-style plantings. Plant through the fabric by cutting an "X" and folding back the flaps before replacing the gravel.
Excerpted from Garden Design
©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009