Give Shrubs Plenty of Space

Our Home / Virginia Creeper
Image by bill barber via Flickr

Any time you add a new shrub or tree to the landscape, it needs to be planted in an area where it will have all it needs to thrive, including plenty of space to spread out.

How many times have you seen a yard with huge plantings covering the front of the house.  Windows might be blocked or walkways overgrown so badly that it makes you wonder why on earth those big plants were put there.  The simple answer is that the size of the plantings were not taken into consideration.

When you come home from the nursery, most likely you will be carrying a fairly small and manageable bush.  It may be difficult to imagine that one day it will be 4 feet wide, but if that is what the tag says (or your research), then you must plan accordingly. Before you leave the plant stand, ask someone if you aren’t sure what you are buying. There is always the internet too.

No amount of trimming will help if your hydrangea shrub is too close to the house. The natural beauty will be hindered if it can’t grown the way it was meant to. In fact planting near a foundation is a bad idea anyway, so find a nice sunny spot in the yard to put your hydrangea and make sure that you have a hose that will reach it for those dry days.

There are many types of hydrangeas and for the most part you can plan on them growing at least 3-4 feet in all directions, but chick on the type you want to grow to be sure because some will grow much larger.

Top 5 Reasons To Grow Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas in front of the Office de Tourisme ...
Image via Wikipedia

If you are contemplating buying something new this year for the flower garden and thinking about a hydrangea, here are my top, five reasons for choosing to add a hydrangea (or 2 or 3) to the landscape.

  1. Easy to care for:  Plant them correctly and hydrangeas will thrive and grow into large plants loaded with blooms.  Add fertilizer occasionally and make sure they get enough water in the heat of summer, and that’s about it.
  2. Hardy:  Many types grow well in cold climates and withstand being buried under a pile of snow for months.
  3. Flower variety:  Flower color can be blue, pink or white and often many shades in between.  I love the light greenish color that appears on mine late in the summer.  One plant can have a variety of lovely color and they are…
  4. Long blooming:  The flowers of the hydrangea begin as pretty little buds and open to gorgeous round or elongated blooms made up of smaller petals which can last for months.  As the flowers age they can turn interesting colors or stay on the stem until they become…
  5. Beautiful dried flowers:  Some types of hydrangea will dry up beautifully right on the stems, or cut them and dry them yourself using a variety of methods.  I hang mine up-side down.

Ground Work Will Pay Off

Summer Cottage Garden print
Garden Flowers

The non-glamorous part of yard work is the ground work.

You didn’t know there was a glamorous side to yard work?  To me the glamorous – aka “fun”- is in finding a gorgeous new plant at the nursery that I know will look perfect in just the spot I am thinking of.  It’s the moment when I pick up the little ( or big ) bucket that holds a small version of what will one day be a lovely, mature shrub.   I know that it will end up living a long life in my yard, giving me years of enjoyment, while I tend to it and watch it grow.  Others who pass by or visit will most likely enjoy it too.  I look forward to digging the hole, carefully setting it in and then it will be my glamorous addition to the yard.

Back to the ground work.  Although this area of gardening is not my favorite it is so important that it can’t be overlooked.  The dirt must be ready for those plants you wish to have grow for many years.

If the garden is being created from lawn, dig it up with a pitchfork (ouch) or buy (rent) a rototiller.  Buy an inexpensive soil test kit , or test meter, and test the soil in your garden for acidity.  Knowing if the soil is too acidic or too alkaline will give you the opportunity to amend it if that needs to be done for growing happy plants.  Any soil that is too much one way or the other inhibits the plants’ ability to use nutrients from the soil for good growth.  No matter how much you water and care for your plant, if it simply can’t use those nutrients, it will not flourish.

Decide what you want to grow and amend the soil to accommodate those plants.  If the soil tests at mid-level (6.5-7.0 pH), then you are fine.  I like to grow a variety of flowering shrubs and annuals, but if you are planning a rose garden, you should make sure the all-over soil is right to grow them.  Hydrangeas, along with Rhododendrons and Azaleas like acid soil (a pH of 5.0 – 5.8) and in the northeast where I live, the soil tends to be acidic.

Any local garden shop will be able to help you find the right amendments and read the packaging for how and when to use them.  I always add bonemeal to the garden in the Spring and a little in the hole of new plantings, because it helps build strong roots.

Planting a New Hydrangea Shrub This Spring

Endless Summer Hydrangea
Image by Chiot's Run via Flickr

You don’t need a green thumb to grow hydrangeas, so why not plan to plant a new shrub this Spring. With just a bit of knowledge, you can have a beautiful and long lasting addition to your landscape in the form of big gorgeous blooms.

Once you’ve made the decision to add a hydrangea to your yard, find out which type you’d like to grow and if it is right for your planting / climate zone. There are many varieties and flower types. Most are shrubs but some can be little trees, such as the Pee Gee, so know what you are buying. Decide where you will plant it by searching for a spot in the yard that is free of tree roots and has plenty of sun. Also remember that the plant you buy will grow to be around four Continue reading “Planting a New Hydrangea Shrub This Spring”

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