Shrubs offer height or ground cover, attractive foliage (both evergreen or deciduous) scent, flowers and fruit, and many have attractive stems in Winter.
Essentials: * Spade and fork * Watering can or hose * Shrub of your choice * Bonemeal * Organic planting material * Suitable fertilizer * Protection fleece
What to look for
Look for the height and spread over five to ten years as they are permanent plantings and it is not always possible to reduce either of the dimensions by pruning. Select the season or seasons of attraction to obtain a balanced display within the garden layout.
Note that small numbers of shrubs require an acid soil (peaty) and planting these in unsuitable soil may often lead to disappointment.
When to plant
Shrubs which are container-grown can be planted at any time as long as the soil is not too dry, wet or frozen but the best establishment is achieved during September to early December and again in late February to early June.
Whichever shrub is chosen and for whatever reason, it will require support during its life grown against a wall.
This is best achieved by securing wires at 50cm (18in) apart up the wall and covering the full height of the wall or fence. The wires are easy to fix using screwed or stamped vine-eyes screwed into rawlplugs in the wall or driven into pre-bored holes, depending on which type is used.
Shrubs with a root ball (roots and soil enclosed in sacking) and those sold bare-rooted, are best planted from November to December and February to mid March.
Preparing the planting site
To achieve the best results from your shrubs, planting preparation is important and the following is the minimum that should be attempted.
Using a fork and spade a hole large enough to accomodate the roots and additional space to grow should be dug.
Of course where a number of shrubs are to be grown together, a whole border can be dug to the same depth specification.
Into the planting area liberal amounts of organic material should be added, this can be garden compost, well-rotted farmyard manure, mushroom compost, peat or peat substitute.
When planting in the Autumn a dressing of bonemeal can be applied otherwise general fertilizer should be used but remember to always read the manufacturers instructions.
The shrub should then be watered well and placed in its hole.
Adjust the plant so that the existing surface of the soil or compost around the plant is just below the surrounding soil surface. Once this has been done the pot or sacking must be carefully removed and the soil mixture returned to the planting hole and lightly firmed.
With bare-rooted shrubs the method is the same except the soil is worked in around the bare roots with soil up to 2.5cm (1in) covering the top of the roots.
Once the hole is finally filled then the shrub should be watered again thoroughly with the soil surface left loose.
It is important to water as the plant requires it - little in the Autumn months but gradually increasing in Spring.
Never allow the shrub to dry out but also take care not to over water.
Water newly planted shrubs frequently for up to three weeks, longer if the weather is dry, ensuring that water is directed on to the general root area.
Applying a dressing of a general fertilizer each Spring (following the manufacturers recommendation) will help keep the shrub in the best of health and help it produce plenty of flowers and fruits.
Shrubs may need additional Winter and early Spring protection in severe weather and this can be best achieved by draping a woven protection fleece over the shrub.
During its life the shrub may need pruning and advice on the appropriate method for the individual shrub should be sought (this is often available on the label).