Lavender Bush

Learn about using lavender bushes in the landscape, along with tips for pruning lavender to maintain its bushy shape.
Lavender not only smells good, it's great for dry and rocky areas of the garden.

Lavender not only smells good, it's great for dry and rocky areas of the garden.

Good drainage and a soil lean in nutrients is essential for this Mediterranean plant to perform at its best. Lavender is fragrant, but it is also great for its silver leaves that are deer resistant.

Not sure if you want to include lavender in your landscape? Lavender bushes make for a low-maintenance addition to any planting area. These pretty herbs form low-growing mounds when not in flower. As blooms appear, the mounds explode with eye-catching floral fireworks.  

Lavender bushes can fill many roles in the landscape. Arrange them along a walkway to form a fragrant path. Lavender is tough enough to serve as a low-growing hedge alongside a driveway, and plants are short enough that they won’t interfere with driving sight lines. Or you might tuck them beside a patio to create a scented seating area.  

Grow lavender bushes as part of a low water-use landscape. Once established, these perennial herbs don’t need watering—rainfall is usually sufficient, unless it’s a true drought. Hailing from the Western Mediterranean, lavender bushes have features that help them survive hot and dry conditions. As a matter of fact, you can turn up the heat around lavender bushes by using a stone mulch, and the plants will reward you with strong growth.  

Incorporate a lavender bush into a butterfly garden, cutting garden or even a cottage garden. Just be sure to place it away from thirstier plants, like roses or peony. Site a lavender bush away from automatic irrigation to help ensure plants’ survival.  

As lavender grows, it naturally forms a shrubby shape. It’s known botanically as a semi-shrub, which hints at the fact that the lower portions of stems tend to become woody over time. This isn’t ideal, because the wood is more prone to breaking under snow cover and suffering freeze damage. Woody stems don’t produce new growth, so if stems break through winter back into the woody portion, plants won’t regenerate.  

Proper pruning techniques can slow the transformation from green growth to wood. Prune lavender bushes after flowering, clipping back close to the woody areas of stems—but take care not to cut into the woody portion. Aim to cut plants back to about the fourth bud above the woody section. This reduces the size of a lavender bush dramatically, but it results in a longer-lived, healthier plant.  

Many lavender aficionados call a pruned lavender bush a turtle. When properly pruned, a lavender bush forms a small, green mound that resembles a turtle shell. You can cut plants back to as short as 2 to 3 inches if you do it consistently each year. This results in well-formed plants that produce loads of blooms.  

A turtle shape is especially effective in regions that receive snow cover. While a woody lavender bush typically breaks under the weight of snow, a turtle mound lavender bush bends down under the heaviest snow load with ease.

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