Landscape bushes and shrubs


South Florida Landscape Plants

…beautiful, exotic, and easy to grow!

Once you get to know Florida Landscape Plants, growing them is easy!

If you live in the southern half of Florida – from (approximately) Tampa to Melbourne and southward – this guide’s for YOU!

Newbies -Discover new-to-you plants and how to grow them in sandy soil and blazing sun

Snowbirds – Find easy-going plants that can thrive with only part-time care

Natives & Long-Time Residents – Learn more about plants you have and “window-shop” for new ones

The Plant Pages give you all the basics – and then some!

You’ll find Zone 9 plants as well as those for Zone 10 – Florida shrubs, palms, trees and flowers – so you have choices that are right for your specific area.

South Florida Landscape Plants are unique, so each one has its own featured page.

You’ll find a photo or two with a detailed description of…

  • how big it grows – OR at what size you can keep it trimmed
  • how fast it grows
  • whether it likes sun or shade
  • if and when it flowers
  • basic care – watering, trimming, fertilizing
  • any special info (“attracts butterflies”)
  • plant spacing – how far apart to plant
  • is it drought-tolerant, salt-tolerant, cold-hardy?
  • is it a good Snowbird plant?
  • best landscaping uses (“low-growing foundation plant”)
  • companion plant suggestions – what to plant with or around it
  • other plants you might like that are similar

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Not too much…not too little…

South-Florida-Plant-Guide strives to be a user-friendly reference and info website to give just the right amount of information homeowners need about Florida Landscape Plants.

Plus – there’s a lot of wrong information out there…and even a little bit of wrong can mean life or death to a plant.

“The right plant for the right place.”

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yet it’s the one basic key to success.

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Evergreen shrubs can be planted along the front of the house to provide visual enjoyment all year round. Depending on the species, evergreen bushes have needle-type leaves or broadleaf-type leaves. Plant a mixture of evergreen shrub species with varying heights to make the foundation landscape more appealing. For even more visual interest, plant a couple of bushes that bloom in the spring and produce berries in the summer.

Shrub Size and Arrangement

Evergreen shrubs should be arranged to draw the eye toward the front door of the house. Plant taller shrubs at either corner with shorter shrubs in between. The bushes between the two taller corner shrubs don’t all have to be the same height. For example, one or two 3-foot tall shrubs and one or two 4-foot tall shrubs can be arranged between the taller corner shrubs. A couple of short, spreading evergreens planted here and there will complete the foundation landscape with a low carpet of green ground cover.

Sunlight Exposure and Hardiness

When you go to the greenhouse or landscape supply store, you’ll see tags on the evergreen shrubs. Just look at the tag to find out how much sunlight the shrub needs. If the house faces south or west, get bushes that grow best in full sunlight. Plant evergreens that thrive in partial shade or partial sun if your house faces east. Plant shade-tolerant evergreens in north-facing foundation plantings or when the landscape area is shaded by high trees.

Only plant shrubs that are rated to grow in your Hardiness Zone. If you buy locally, you can be sure the shrub will do fine in your area. If you’re buying the evergreens online, though, you’ll want to check the U.S.D.A. Hardiness Zone map for your hardiness zone and only order bushes that are hardy in that area.

Soil pH

Check the soil’s pH before you buy the shrubs. Soil along your home’s foundation tends to be more alkaline because the lime leaches from the foundation into the soil. Soil pH test kits can be bought online or in garden supply stores. The pH can be amended with soil amendments to make it more acid, but it’s best to buy shrubs that thrive in the soil’s natural pH as it is.

Needle-leaved Evergreens

Needled evergreens like junipers and yewsare generally hardy shrubs that tolerate various soil conditions. Many of them are drought tolerant and landscape-plant invaders like rabbits and deer won’t try to eat them.


‘Mint Julep’ is a great mid-size shrub with mint green leaves. It grows to 4 to 5 feet tall and 4 to 8 feet wide within 10 years. It needs a full-sun exposure but it will grow fine in most types of soil. It is also drought tolerant after the first year or two and air pollution doesn’t bother it.

‘Blue Chip’ is a creeping juniper that only grows to 6 to 9 inches tall but spreads up to 8 to 10 feet wide. It has beautiful steel-blue leaves that develop burgundy edges during the winter.

Canadian Hemlock

Canadian hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis) are some of the best needled evergreen shrubs for the front of an east- or north-facing house. They can tolerate full sun in cooler climates but do better in partial- to full-shade in warmer areas of the country. Deer don’t like to eat them.

‘Pendula’ is a mid-size Canadian hemlock that grows to 4 to 5 feet tall and 8 to 10 feet wide. It has gracefully weeping branches clad in dark green needles.


Yews (Taxus x media) have soft, dark green to olive green, flat-needle-type leaves. There are male and female yew bushes. If you want a yew that produces red berries, get a female. Yewsgrow best in full sun or part shade, but they’ll grow in heavy shade, too. They are drought tolerant and rabbits don’t like to eat them, but they don’t do well in soil that stays wet for too long.

‘Densiformis’ is a smaller, semi-dwarf, femaleyew that only grows to 3 to 4 feet tall and 5 to 7 feet wide.

‘Hicksii’ is a tall, column-shaped yew that usually grows to 9 to 12 feet tall. It’s one of the best evergreens to plant in the corner positions at either end of the front-yard foundation landscape. You can get both male and female ‘Hicksii’ yews.

Broadleaf Evergreens

Broadleaf evergreen bushes have regular, flat leaves. Some species have very small leaves while others have larger leaves. Many of them produce berries, too.


Boxwoods (Buxus spp.) are evergreen shrubs with small, oval leaves that are excellent for planting along the front of the house. There are lots of different boxwood cultivars that grow to various heights and widths. They are all hardy, drought-tolerant shrubs and rabbits and deer don’t like to eat them.

‘Green Gem’ is a shorter boxwood that grows to only 3 to 4 feet tall and wide. Its small, evergreen leaves are yellow-green. This boxwood is perfect for planting in a foundation landscape. It can be grown in full sun, partial shade or dappled partial shade.

Common box shrubs grow to between 5 and 15 feet tall and wide. They can be planted at the corners or throughout the center of the front-yard landscape.


Hollies (Ilex spp.) are beautiful evergreen shrubs for the front yard. Holly leaves can be bright green, deep green or blue-green. Some hollies produce the traditional holiday holly-type leaves with points along the edges while others have simple oval-shaped leaves. There are male and female holly shrubs. Female hollies bloom in the spring and produce berries in the summer. You have to plant a male holly bush nearby, though, or the females won’t produce berries.

‘China Boy’ and ‘China Girl’ are excellent broadleaf evergreen shrubs for the front of an east-, west- or south-facing home. They have the fancy, holiday holly-type leaves and, if you plant at least one of each, you will get those pretty red holiday holly berries. This type of holly will eventually grow to 7 to 10 feet tall and wide.

‘Helleri’ Japanese hollies have deep green oval leaves and grow naturally into a rounded shape. They only grow to 2 to 4 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet wide. ‘Helleri’ is a female holly that will occasionally bloom and produce berries, if there’s a male Japanese holly planted nearby.

Choosing Shrubs for Your Yard

With all their wonderful diversity of size, shape, foliage, and flower, shrubs can turn a mundane piece of property into a beautiful showplace. Shrubs make the yard inviting and livable. You’ve probably noticed that builders always plant a few shrubs around newly constructed homes. There may be no trees or grass, but there are almost always shrubs.

Shrubs, with their deciduous or evergreen foliage, are enormously decorative and highly useful. Like trees, evergreen shrubs may have broadleaf or needled foliage and can offer colorful berries or cones, interesting bark, and lovely flowers. Even in winter, their leafless, contorted trunks and interesting architecture enhance the landscape. Their size provides a pleasant transition between tall trees and groundcover plantings, softening the edges of boundaries, foundations, buildings, and walls. They also protect the soil, supporting and sheltering all kinds of wildlife.

Shrubs are versatile. Use them as groundcovers on slopes, as living walls, as backdrops for flower borders, and as screens to block street noise and dust. Put them where they’ll obscure landscape eyesores, such as heating and cooling units, swimming pool mechanicals, utility meters, and trash can areas.

Add blooms to your yard with these flowering shrubs.

Types of Shrubs and Their Uses

Use shrubs to accent pools, patios, and dooryards. Or plant thorny varieties to redirect children and animals using your yard for shortcuts.

Conifers are generating renewed interest. These cone-bearing, needled evergreens are available in dwarf forms—more suitable scale for today’s smaller properties. They offer an amazing array of foliage color—soft blue, variegations in yellow or cream with green, as well as the traditional green. Whatever the colors, they really stand out in a winter landscape. Conifers also come in many forms—weeping, prostrate, and topiary, in addition to the usual upright configuration.

See our picks for the best conifers for your yard.

Native shrubs are also enjoying long-overdue attention. Because they have existed in the same region long before European settlers arrived, and have adapted to local climate and soil conditions. Unfortunately, Americans temporarily lost interest in them, while other countries happily adopted them. But now we’re recognizing their many low-maintenance virtues. They don’t require extra watering and tend to resist pest insects and disease. And they’re big favorites of local wildlife.


In many areas of the country, rainfall is never generous. And it’s becoming less dependable in many other areas, too. If you live where water is likely to be restricted, choose shrubs that don’t require much water. Some examples are olive, butterfly bush, potentilla, and barberry.

Avoiding Deer Damage

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Deer can damage shrubs by nibbling their twigs, fruit, and foliage. Homeowners across the country are searching for ornamental shrubs that deer will ignore. Lists vary by region—even by neighborhood—but certain types of plants appear on many of them. Consider shrubs with thorns or prickers, resinous wood, aromatic foliage, and silver or gray fuzzy leaves.

Use these tips to keep deer out of your garden.

Using Native Shrubs

Native shrubs that combine the virtues of beauty and low maintenance include:

  • American arborvitae
  • American beautyberry
  • American holly
  • Bayberry
  • Bottlebrush buckeye
  • California lilac
  • Carolina allspice
  • Chokeberry
  • Dwarf fothergilla
  • Mountain laurel
  • Oakleaf hydrangea
  • Oregon grapeholly
  • Rhododendron (some)
  • Serviceberry
  • Sweet pepperbush
  • Viburnum (some)
  • Virginia sweetspire

Attracting Wildlife

Some shrubs with berries that attract birds and other wildlife include:

  • Barberry
  • Bearberry
  • Beautyberry
  • Blueberry
  • Brambles
  • Cotoneaster
  • Dogwood
  • Euonymus
  • Firethorn
  • Holly
  • Juniper
  • Viburnum
  • Wax myrtle

More Popular Shrubs

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American Holly

Any day is festive in the landscape when holly is present to cheer with its shiny dark green or green-and-yellow-patterned leaves and red berries. American holly can grow 30 to 40 feet tall and is pyramidally shaped. This hardy evergreen has leathery, glossy, spined leaves. Female trees bear red or yellow berries that attract birds. Hardy to Zone 5.

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Because boxwoods are easy to manipulate and maintain into so many different shapes and sizes, they can always find a home in the garden. Boxwood is an evergreen covered with tiny, oval, glossy leaves. It tolerates shearing into hedges very well. Common boxwood grows to 20 feet tall and accepts sun or light shade. Hardy to Zone 6.

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Also known as lily-of-the-valley bush, andromeda bears pendulous chains of puckered blooms in spring that closely resemble lily-of-the-valley flowers. Andromeda, or pieris, is a 4- to 12-foot-tall, broadleaf evergreen. It bears pendulous clusters of fragrant, white, urn-shaped florets in the spring. This slow-growing shrub likes some shade. Zones 6 to 9.

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A true harbinger of spring, forsythia bursts into a vibrant display of golden blooms before any leaf foliage emerges. Forsythia bears rows of bright yellow, trumpet-shape flowers on its bare stems in early spring. It becomes 8 to 10 feet tall. Hardy to Zone 5.

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Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick

Harry Lauder’s walking stick is actually a filbert used as an ornamental shrub. It sports curling, twisting branches that can be pruned for use in crafts and flower arrangements. It has coarse, veined leaves and grows 8 to 10 feet tall. Zones 4 to 9.

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Japanese Barberry

In shades of green, yellow, and rich burgundy, these plants make up for their lack of showy blooms with their constantly colorful foliage. Japanese barberry grows 2 to 5 feet tall and is tough and versatile, even in poor, dry soil. Its small red berries persist all fall. Hardy to Zone 5.

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Korean Stewartia

A small and beautiful tree to appreciate from all angles and in all seasons, the stewartia is remarkably easy to grow. Korean stewartia has delicate white blossoms in early summer. Its leaves turn orange-red in the fall, then drop to expose patchy bark. Zones 5 to 7.

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Lace-cap Hydrangea

Hydrangeas can flourish in sun or shade. Huge bouquets of hydrangea flowers, which vary from mophead to lacecap types, show beauty from summer to fall. Lace-cap hydrangea features flat clusters of tiny, tight, fertile flowers ringed by petaled, sterile ones. The blue, pink, or white flowers nestle among green foliage in early summer. Hardy to Zone 6.

Check out more hydrangeas for your garden.

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Lilac boasts fragrant sprays of tiny, tubular florets in pink, white, and shades of lavender during the spring. Heart-shaped, smooth, bluish green leaves continue through the season and drop in the fall. Lilac grows slowly but lives a long time. Zones 4 to 9.

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Mountain Laurel

A showy shrub native to eastern North America, mountain laurel is closely related to azaleas and rhododendrons. Mountain laurel is a broadleaf evergreen that grows to 15 feet tall. It’s vigorous and bears globes of intricate, starlike florets in late spring. Zones 4 to 9.

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Oleander tolerates heat, drought, and salt and takes any soil. Narrow evergreen foliage lines thin branches tipped with colorful flowers all season. Caution: All parts of the plant are poisonous. Zone 9.

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Pyracantha (firethorn) branches are covered with thorns. They bear white flowers in spring that become bright orange or red berries by fall. Its smallish, oval leaves are evergreen. This shrub is easy to grow but difficult to prune. Zones 5 to 9.

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Plum-leaf Azalea

In areas where dry winters tend to desiccate evergreen types, deciduous varieties of rhododendrons can fill in the gap. Plum-leaf azalea, native to the Southeast, bears its fragrant, orange-red flowers in midsummer, later than most azaleas. Shrubs have evergreen foliage and grow to 10 feet or more. Zones 5 to 8.

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PJM Rhododendron

PJM rhododendron is a compact evergreen that grows 3 to 6 feet tall. Resembling an azalea, its leaves are small and leathery, turning purplish in the fall. Spring flowers are pinkish-lavender. Zones 4 to 9.

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Seven-sons Flowers

Seven-sons flowers’ soft green foliage shows off its 6-inch-long clusters of fragrant ivory flowers in late summer. It likes moist, woodsy soil (but tolerates less) and grows to 15 feet. Plan this shrub in full to part sun. Zones 5 to 8.

Fertilizing Trees & Shrubs

Trees and shrubs are living investments that grow in value with each passing year. When properly selected and planted, trees and shrubs can be expected to thrive with the right care, which may include watering, fertilizing and pruning. Just as certain established drought-tolerant plants may not require water during dry spells, mature trees and shrubs growing in favorable soil conditions may require little or no fertilizer.

Fertilizer is often misunderstood and misused. Fertilizer is not “food.” Plants produce their own food in the form of sugars through photosynthesis. The minerals or nutrients supplied by fertilizer provide the ingredients needed for photosynthesis and growth. When minerals are lacking or absent in the soil, fertilizer can be added to maintain an adequate supply.

Fertilizer should not be considered a cure for ailing plants when unadapted or unhealthy plants are chosen, carelessly planted or improperly watered.

When fertilizing trees and shrubs, keep these two points in mind: (1) Fertilizer is beneficial when it is needed; but (2) Use it in the right amount, at the right time and in the right place.

Establish a Need for Fertilizing

Consider the following conditions to help you decide if you should fertilize your trees and shrubs:

Soil Test: Have your soil tested through the Clemson Extension Service. A soil test determines the acidity or alkalinity (pH) of the soil, along with the levels of nutrients that are present. Depending on the results, you may need to add nutrients to make up for any deficiencies in the soil. For more information on soil testing refer to the fact sheet HGIC 1652, Soil Testing.

Growth: Look at shrubs and trees for signs of poor growth: poorly colored leaves (pale green to yellow); leaf size smaller than normal; earlier than normal fall coloring and leaf drop; little annual twig growth; or twig or branch dieback. These symptoms of poor growth are not always related to low levels of nutrients in the soil, nor should you assume that fertilizers would cure these problems. Heavily compacted soil; stresses induced by insects, diseases and weeds; or adverse weather conditions can cause these symptoms. Before fertilizing, determine the cause of the problem and correct it.

Planting Age: Fertilizer applications in the early years of established, transplanted trees and shrubs can speed up top growth and help young trees fill their allotted space in the landscape. Slow-release fertilizers are well-suited for recently planted trees and shrubs.

Location: If shrubs or trees are growing in a lawn that is regularly fertilized, there is no need to fertilize them separately. The roots of trees and shrubs will absorb some of the fertilizer applied to the lawn. However, trees and shrubs growing in planting beds may need to be fertilized, especially on sandy soils with little or no organic matter.

Commonly Applied Nutrients

The most commonly applied nutrients are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Other plant-essential nutrients used in fairly large quantities are calcium, magnesium and sulfur. It is usually unnecessary to apply magnesium and sulfur because they are generally sufficient in South Carolina soils.

Micronutrients such as zinc or iron are added to many fertilizers. If your shrub or tree has a micronutrient deficiency, either apply the recommended rate of the deficient nutrient or use a fertilizer containing the micronutrient that is deficient in the soil.

Kind of Fertilizer to Use

A complete fertilizer, such as 16-4-8, 12-6-6 or 12-4-8, is generally recommended, unless the soil test reveals that phosphorus and potassium are adequate.

Two kinds of fertilizers are available: fast-release and slow-release. Fast-release or water-soluble fertilizers are less expensive than slow-release products, which release nitrogen over an extended period; however, the nutrients in a fast-release fertilizer may leach quickly through the soil. In sandy, well-drained soils, the soluble fertilizer may move past the root system after only a few inches of rainfall or irrigation. In fine-textured clay soils, leaching will be slower, but runoff may be greater.

Slow- or controlled-release fertilizers have extended release periods compared to fast-release fertilizers whose nitrogen is water-soluble and readily available to the plants. The nitrogen in slow-release fertilizers may be sulfur-coated or a form such as IBDU or urea-formaldehyde. One-half or more of the total amount of nitrogen in controlled-release fertilizers should be “water insoluble” or slow-release nitrogen. For newly planted shrubs and trees, or in areas where the potential for runoff is very high, such as slopes or compacted soil, slow-release fertilizers are a good choice. Since the nutrients are released slowly, the potential for fertilizer damage (“burning”) and water contamination is less.

Natural fertilizers, like composted sewage sludge, cow manure or complete fertilizer blends, provide nitrogen and other nutrients slowly. An advantage of these natural “nutrient suppliers” is that they provide minor nutrients – minerals required in small amounts such as iron or zinc – not usually found in synthetic fertilizers. Natural fertilizers also improve the soil structure.

A disadvantage of natural fertilizers is that usually the concentration of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are lower. Therefore, a greater amount of a natural fertilizer must be applied to provide the same amount of nutrients that can be obtained with a lesser quantity from a synthetic nutrient source.

Many fertilizers are formulated for use on lawn grasses. Some, known as “weed-and-feed” fertilizers, may contain a herbicide that can damage groundcovers, vines, shrubs and trees. Read the labels and carefully follow the directions.

Amount of Fertilizer to Apply

Similar to lawn fertilizer applications (HGIC 1201, Fertilizing Lawns), the recommended rates for fertilizing shrubs and trees are based on actual pounds of nitrogen. Shrubs and trees can receive 2 to 4 pounds of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of root spread area per year. The root spread area occupies 1½ times the area of the crown spread (3.14 x radius²; see Figure 1). Generally, younger shrubs and trees should receive higher rates of nitrogen than mature plants.

For shrubs and trees in lawns, follow the fertilizer recommendation rate and timing for the turfgrass. Depending on the formulation, applications exceeding 2 pounds of actual nitrogen can overstimulate or burn the grass. If trees or shrubs growing in fertilized lawns show nutrient-deficiency symptoms indicating a need for additional fertilizer, space the fertilizer applications a few months apart, not exceeding the total yearly amount of nitrogen required by your lawn grass (follow the rate and timing for the lawn grass).

Avoid adding too much fertilizer which can harm the plant and the environment. Excessive fertilizer produces rank, weak growth that breaks easily and is susceptible to injury from cold, drought and pests. Also, fertilizer not absorbed by the plant roots may contaminate groundwater and surface water.

Fertilizer Application Methods

Plants may be fertilized by either indirect or direct methods. With either method, apply the fertilizer to the entire root zone area. Because of the naturally high oxygen concentrations near the soil surface, a plant’s principal feeding roots are usually within the top 10 to 14 inches of soil. Many roots of mulched plants are located just beneath the mulch on the soil surface. Apply fertilizer to the surface of the soil or mulch; rainfall or irrigation water will carry it to the roots.

Whatever fertilizer or method of application you choose, irrigate soon after you apply fertilizers to wash any fertilizer from the leaves and to help nutrients dissolve and penetrate through the mulch and soil to the roots. Without irrigation or rainfall, some of the nitrogen applied may evaporate and be lost to the atmosphere without benefiting the plants.

Indirect Fertilization: Shrubs and trees growing in lawns are fertilized indirectly when the lawn is fertilized.

Direct Fertilization: The cheapest and most effective method of directly fertilizing trees and shrubs is broadcasting. Using a cyclone or drop-type spreader, scatter a prescribed amount of fertilizer over the entire root zone area. To obtain the best coverage, split the total amount of fertilizer to be applied in half. Apply one-half of the total amount in one direction and the other half in a direction perpendicular to the first for excellent coverage. When fertilizing over the top of shrubs and groundcovers, make certain the leaves are dry and use a leaf rake or broom to brush fertilizer off the leaves and onto the ground after application. Some plants, like liriope and azaleas, can collect fertilizer granules in the whorls of their leaves and injury may result.

If the soil in a lawn is compacted, aerate the soil, then fertilize. Watering the fertilizer in afterwards will reduce the chances for injuring any groundcover or lawn grasses.

Fertilizer can be applied in liquid form to the leaves of shrubs and trees. Liquid application is commonly used to correct micronutrient deficiencies such as iron chlorosis or yellowing in azaleas (the youngest leaves are yellow leaves with green veins). Foliar applications provide a temporary solution that controls deficiencies in existing leaves with best results achieved in the spring. However, applying fertilizer to the leaves will not cure the real reason for the micronutrient deficiency, which can be the result of an improper soil pH. To find the underlying problem, refer to the soil test. If the pH will not be corrected, then the foliar application will have to be repeated.

A liquid or dissolved dry formulation of fertilizer can also be applied in the irrigation water. This practice will place nutrients in the upper soil surface where most of the absorbing roots are located. Use care to get even coverage and the proper dilution rate. A backflow preventer should be installed on the irrigation system.

When to Apply

Apply fertilizer when plants need it and when they can readily absorb the nutrients with their roots. Time your application to coincide with active root growth and adequate soil moisture. Trees and shrubs should be fertilized in early spring, and a light fertilizer application can be made in early summer if conditions are conducive to plant growth (that is, reasonable temperatures and soil moisture). Avoid fertilizing trees and shrubs stressed by drought during the summer months. If water is unavailable, do not fertilize at all because plants will be unable to absorb the nutrients.

For shrubs and trees in lawns, apply the fertilizer at the appropriate time and rate for the turfgrass. Always be sure that adequate moisture (supplied by either rainfall or irrigation) is available.

For fertilizer instructions for new plantings of shrubs and trees, see the fact sheets, HGIC 1052, Planting Shrubs Correctly and HGIC 1001, Planting Trees Correctly.

Calculating Area & Fertilizer

Shrubs and trees growing in lawns should be fertilized at the appropriate time and rate for the turfgrass (see Amount of Fertilizer to Apply section). When trees and shrubs are growing in beds or natural areas, you need to calculate the amount of fertilizer needed.

Figure 1. Apply fertilizer evenly on mulched and unmulched surfaces out to about 1½ times the crown radius.

Trees: Apply the fertilizer to the area occupied by the tree’s roots or root zone area. The root zone area is roughly a circular area with the tree in the center. The root zone area extends beyond the drip line or outermost branches of the tree with the roots extending 1½ times the distance from the trunk to the drip line or outermost branches (see Figure 1). For example, if the distance from the trunk of your tree to the drip line, which is called the crown radius, is 8 feet, the “feeder” or mineral-absorbing roots can extend an additional 4 feet beyond the drip line. So, the root zone area can occupy an area up to 12 feet away from the trunk.

Tree cultivars that have a narrow canopy, such as Fastigiata English oak (Quercus robur ‘Fastigiata’) or columnar Japanese pagoda tree (Sophora japonica ‘Columnaris’), or trees with small canopies, or trees that were pruned into unusual shapes, have a root zone area that can be much more than the drip line. In these cases, make your fertilizer calculation based on the trunk diameter. Measure the diameter in inches at 4.5 feet above the soil level (dbh) and multiply it by either 1 or 1.5 to get a number expressed in feet. This number will be used as the radius measurement for the fertilization area. For example, the radius of the fertilization area of a 12 inch diameter tree would be 12 to 18 feet, depending on the multiplication factor that was used.

Follow these steps to determine the amount of fertilizer needed to supply 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 ft²:

1. Calculate the root zone area (assuming it occupies a roughly circular shape), using the following formula where Pi = 3.14:

Pi x (radius)² = 3.14 x (root zone radius) x (root zone radius)

In the example given above, the root zone area would be:

3.14 x 12 x 12 = 452.16 square feet

2. To calculate the amount of fertilizer required per 1,000 square feet, use the following equation:

Lbs N desired x 100%

%N in bag

= Number of pounds of fertilizer required per 1000 square feet in order to apply the desired amount of actual nitrogen

To deliver 2 pounds of actual nitrogen per 1000 square feet, the equation would look like this:

2 Lbs N x 100%

%N in bag

= Number of pounds of fertilizer required per 1000 square feet in order to apply 2 pounds of actual nitrogen

Assuming you have a 16-4-8 fertilizer, the equation for this example would look like this:

2 Lbs N x 100%

16% N

= 12.5 pounds of 16-4-8 required per 1000 square feet

3. Calculate the actual amount of fertilizer to apply using the following equation:

Root area ft²

1000 ft²

x Pounds fertilizer per 1000 ft² = fertilizer to apply over root area

In our example, calculate the amount of 16-4-8 fertilizer required in order to apply 2 pounds of actual nitrogen to 452 square feet:

452 ft²

1000 ft²

x 12.5 pounds fertilizer per 1000 ft² = 5.65 lbs fertilizer to apply over root area

Apply 5.65 pounds (about 11 to 12 cups; 2 cups of 16-4-8 is equivalent to 1 pound) of 16-4-8 evenly over the root zone area. Since most of a tree’s roots can be found in the top foot of soil, broadcast the fertilizer evenly with a rotary or drop-type spreader over the root zone area to fertilize the tree. Water after application to make the nutrients available to the roots. If the tree’s root zone area is confined by a sidewalk or driveway, reduce the root zone area accordingly.

Shrubs: When fertilizing individual shrubs, follow the directions given above for trees. When several shrubs are grouped together in a bed or natural area, however, it is easier to measure the entire area to determine how much fertilizer to apply. Measure the area of the entire bed, making an allowance for the roots that extend beyond the branches of the outermost shrubs. To determine the bed area, use this formula:

Length x width = root zone area

Let’s assume the bed is 30 feet long and 10 feet wide. The bed (root zone) area is 300 square feet.

Calculate the amount of fertilizer required to apply 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet using the same equations from the tree section. Assuming you have a 16-4-8 fertilizer, the first equation would look like this:

2 Lbs N x 100%

16% N

= 12.5 pounds of 16-4-8 required per 1000 square feet

Since the root zone area is 300 square feet, the actual amount of 16-4-8 fertilizer to apply is calculated as follows:

300 ft²


x 12.5 lbs fertilizer per 1000 ft² = 3.75 lbs fertilizer to apply over root area

Apply 3.75 pounds (about 7 or 8 cups) of 16-4-8 evenly over the mulched bed. Sweep fertilizer off the branches and water afterwards to make the nutrients available to the roots. If the shrub’s root zone area is confined by a sidewalk or driveway, reduce the root zone area accordingly.

08 Feb 5 Best Shrubs and Bushes for Curb Appeal in Minnesota

Posted at 16:33h in Curb Appeal, Landscape Design, Minneapolis Landscaping, Plantings, Residential Landscaping by Kent Gliadon

Improving the front yard landscaping and curb appeal is often the first request from our landscape design clients. Here are some recommendations from our owner and lead designer Kent Gliadon.

5) “Champlain” Roses

“Champlain” Roses

Roses? Yes, Roses! “Champlain” roses are hardy enough to survive the brutal Minnesota weather and re-bloom continuously throughout the summer and into fall, providing constant interest. These roses perform best in full sun and reach about 3’ tall. Surprisingly these roses require very little maintenance, only needing to be cut back once in the fall or early spring while still in dormancy in order to keep a nice compact shape and encourage lots of blooming. No need to cover over winter! Check out our gallery of photos to see some examples of roses in front yard plantings.

4) “Arctic Fire” Dogwood

“Arctic Fire” Dogwood

Dogwoods are also Minnesota tough and offer height, shade tolerance, and winter interest all in one plant. These new dogwoods are much more compact than a traditional red twigged dogwood. Where traditional red twigged dogwoods reach 10’ tall by 10’ wide, the “arctic fire” variety has been bred to stay in the 5-6’ tall by 3-4’ wide range, which is much more desirable and manageable for most homeowners. The “firedance” dogwood is a similar variety that also performs well, but stays a touch smaller, usually remaining in the 4-5’ tall by 4-5’ wide range.

Once your dogwoods have reached a desirable height and width, we recommend a light trimming twice a year, once in June/July and again in the fall to maintain a nice shape. If you’re only going to trim them once a year, than fall is the best time since a fall trimming ensures they come out of dormancy in the right shape and won’t require spring trimming that would cut off the flower buds. If your front yard is in very heavy shade, try “Isanti” dogwoods, which seem to perform a little better in the shadiest of conditions.

3) “Blue Shadow” Fothergilla

“Blue Shadow” Fothergilla

These shrubs maintain a unique blue foliage throughout the year before turning a brilliant yellow-orange in the fall. This combination of unique blue foliage and great fall color make them a great choice for front yard curb appeal landscaping. They also maintain an ideal size, staying in the 3-4’ tall by 3-4’ wide range when mature. “Mount Airy” is another great fothergilla variety that gives you a bit larger size, staying in the 5’ tall by 4’ wide range, although its foliage stays green instead of blue. Don’t worry about either variety growing out of control anytime soon. They can be a bit slow growing in comparison to many shrubs, so ante up and buy the larger pot size if you’re planting these in the front yard and looking for height against the foundation.

Forthergilla do great in full sun and light shade. Both varieties have nice-looking early blooming white flowers in the spring as well. However, if the rabbits in your neighborhood get too hungry, they will get after these in the winter. I use chicken wire to protect my fothergilla in the winter since I have a family of rabbits living under my shed, and my dog doesn’t know he’s supposed to be in charge of chasing them off! Rabbits prefer the taste of a burning bush, though, which is one of the reasons I like fothergilla for strong fall color better than the burning bush. You can find out more about our curb appeal design principles on our front yard landscaping page.

2) Hydrangeas

“Bloomstruck” Hydrangea

If you’re looking for long-blooming shrubs with huge white, blue, or purple flowers to plant against the house, hydrangeas are your best choice. There are so many varieties available, but after over ten years of planting many different kinds, there are a few in particular I now like best. Most of the non-mentioned varieties are not listed because they are just too big to use as a foundation plant. The varieties I’ll mention are smaller, in the 4’ tall by 4’ wide range, making them ideal for foundation plants that offer curb appeal.

The “bloomstruck” variety is my favorite, because of the large rich purple-blue flowers and red stems that make them very unique. In my experience, they flower more vigorously than the original “endless summer” variety from which they were developed. I’ve had the best luck with these in shady areas, so I will now only plant them in part to full shade and never in the sun. They can also be a little needy in terms of water. They will be the first plants to look sad and wilty if they’re not getting enough water, but bounce back quickly as long as you don’t make them wait too long. For a hardier option, I like the “little quickfire,” which can be planted in full sun to part shade and keeps a nice shade, which makes is a good standalone option. If you’re looking for white hydrangeas, I like the “incrediball” variety best. These can handle anything from full sun to full shade, but I think they do best in partial shade. They can also tend to flop over a bit under the weight of their HUGE white flowers after a heavy rain, so I stake mine to protect again flagging, although it’s usually not needed.

“Little Quickfire” Hydrangea

“Incrediball” Hydrangea

1 ) Boxwoods

Boxwoods hedge in front of hydrangeas

Boxwoods are the unsung hero of beautiful front yard landscaping. They don’t even flower and they are still number one on my list for best curb appeal shrubs for Minnesota. These are very Minnesota-hardy and the only deciduous landscaping plants that remain green all winter long. When all of the beautiful flowering shrubs we love are leafless for five months during our cold winters, boxwoods provide the evergreen interest we so desperately need during the white of winter.

There are many varieties available, but I like the “Chicagoland” and “green velvet” varieties the best. Both varieties can get to 2-3’ tall by 2-3’ wide, but I maintain mine much smaller, around 18” tall, in little round balls as I wait for them to form a short hedge. Don’t buy anything smaller than a pot size #5, because they are very slow growing. #7s and #10s are even better if you can swing the cost.

Boxwoods are great for the front row (street side) of a multi-layer foundation planting, forming a strong, formal-looking border, and they are the perfect plant to achieve both the cottage style and formal landscaping looks we love. They work great as short hedges or shaped into individual round balls when used as border plants. Boxwoods will look great in front of all of the flowering shrubs mentioned above and all kinds of perennials as well. Boxwoods are extremely on trend and will be for many years to come.

Boxwoods as a short hedge

If you’re looking for front yard landscaping help, be sure to contact us at KG Landscape. We have been improving curb appeal all over the Minneapolis/St. Paul area for over 13 years. Our eye for design and experienced installation crews will turn your house into a welcoming home.

Landscape Design Idea for Privacy (Best Trees and Shrubs by Zone)

As you walk into your backyard after a long day, you’re instantly transported to a peaceful, green oasis. …until you hear the dog barking two doors down or see your neighbors strolling over to interrupt.

Sometimes, we just want to getaway–without having to leave home. That’s why a Davey blog reader asked for help making her backyard more secluded and advice on how to plant a privacy border.

Below, we’re sharing design tips and the best trees to plant for privacy and noise reduction.

Privacy Landscape Ideas – and The Best Privacy Landscaping Plants

Photo courtesy of the Arasapha Garden Club.

I want a quieter backyard. Any privacy garden designs you can share?

Before you dive in, first identify your goals by walking around your space and taking notes.

“Think about the purpose of this space and what you want to achieve with your new design. How do you want the space to feel and look? Where are the biggest eyesores you want to block?” said Jason Gaskill.

Gaskill is a landscape expert and an assistant district manager at Davey in Delaware. In fact, his tree service and lawn team in Wilmington just completed a garden renovation at the Arasapha Garden Club.

Their goal was to accurately replicate what the garden would have looked like in the early 1700s while also blocking nearby modern structures.

“When we started, you could see the modern siding and gutters of the building next door. We wanted it to feel like you’re stepping back in time, so we had to make the garden more private,” Gaskill said.

Through that project, Gaskill learned some of the best design tricks to create a secluded outdoor space. Before you start, though, consider his biggest piece of advice.

“Step back and think, really think, about what you want your garden to look like. Creating a new garden design entails much more than grabbing a few new plants at your local garden center,” Gaskill shares. “You have to answer a ton of questions. And work with a qualified designer you trust. They’ll help you create a space you’ll love and use for years to come.”

Try some of these ideas below:

  • Plant a privacy border. Most often, we see evergreen hedges used to create a living, privacy border. Spice up this classic look by planting different types of shrubs – not just one variety. This way, if a disease or pest invades one shrub, your entire border won’t be affected.

  • Create a living fence. Plant flowering shrubs close together, so they graft and begin to grow as a single plant. Choose self-grafting plants to make it easier, and be patient. This look often takes a year to establish.

  • Block out noise with trees and water. If you’ve got a noisy yard, plant trees! They muffle urban noise by up to 50%, almost as much as a stone wall, found USDA research. If you still hear noise sneaking through, add in a fountain or water element to drown out the noise.

  • Space it out. Plan how big each plant will be when it’s mature. Keep that in mind when deciding where it will go and what to plant near it. Also, larger, established trees and shrubs cost more upfront. But if you start with smaller plants, you’ll have to wait for your privacy to grow in.

  • Go lush with layers. When you layer trees, shrubs, ornamental grasses, and perennials, you create a much more natural woodland space that also blocks out noise.

Ok. I’ve mapped out where I’d like plants. What are the best privacy shrubs to plant by zone?

Photo courtesy of the Arasapha Garden Club.

Before picking your plants, consider this piece of advice from an expert. “Use a variety of plants to create a private garden that’s really intriguing and different,” said Gaskill. “There are so many different colors and textures to choose from beyond the standard evergreens.”

Also, choose plants in your gardening zone to set yourself up for success.

. Plants in your zone are most likely to thrive in the climate and weather of your area.

Best trees for privacy and noise reduction (by zone)

This red maple tree is ideal for zones 3-9.

  1. Eastern red cedar (zones 2-7): A sun-loving evergreen that can handle the heat
  2. Spruce (zones 2-7): Any spruce blocks noise and grows tall to create a private space
  3. White oak (zones 3-9): A slow-growing shade tree with great fall color
  4. Silver or red maple (zones 3-9): Fast-growing shade trees with unbelievable fall foliage
  5. Pine (zones 3-10): Any variety of pine will provide privacy and reduce noise
  6. Douglas fir (zones 4-6): A beautiful, classic evergreen that looks great in any space
  7. Evergreen magnolias (zones 4-9): Ornamental trees with year-round interest
  8. American holly (zones 4-9): An ornamental tree with soft needles and red berries
  9. Leyland or bald cypress (zones 4-10; 6-10): Fast-growing, slender conifers
  10. Dawn redwood (zones 5-8): A fast-growing, low-maintenance conifer

Best shrubs for privacy and noise reduction (by zone)

This holly bush is ideal for zones 5-8.

  1. Viburnum (zones 2-9): Shrubs that provide color and interest in every season

  2. Juniper (2-9): A fast-growing, drought-tolerant evergreen shrub

  3. Eastern or giant arborvitae (zones 3-7): A fast-growing, pyramid-shaped hedge

  4. Dogwoods (zones 3-9): A tough and easy to care for shrub with blooms

  5. Yew (zones 4-7): A classic shrub or hedge that lends itself well to pruning and topiary

  6. Privet (zones 4-8): A fast-growing shrub with glossy leaves that works as a hedge

  7. Boxwood (zones 4-8): Versatile and compact evergreens that look great in formal gardens

  8. Forsythia (zones 5-8): A fast-growing shrub with bright yellow flowers in spring

  9. Holly (zones 5-8): A low-maintenance shrub with timeless shiny leaves and perfect red berries

  10. Rose-of-Sharon (zones 5-9): An easy to grow hibiscus that’s perfect for borders or as a hedge

When is the best time to plant a privacy border or implement my new garden design?

Planting in fall and spring is best! So, start planning a season or two before you want to plant.
“The sooner you start planning your new garden design, the better! People are surprised by the amount of time and planning it takes to turn a design idea into a reality. So, if you want to renovate your garden next spring, talk to your landscape designer this fall or in winter,” Gaskill advises.

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