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Shrubs & Woody Plants

Shrubs are important components of both rural and urban areas. They provide beauty, diversity, wind protection, privacy, homes for wildlife and even a source of human food.

Backyards, gardens, shelterbelts, woodlots, wildlife areas, and fence rows are among the areas that could beneflt from shrub plantings. Species selection and planting designs vary with the landowner's tastes and objectives. Yet, there are certain guidelines to remember.

First, when selecting types of plants, choose at least some native species. Native plants are already adapted to an area and therefore usually thrive with less care and maintenance. Second, try to avoid a straight-line appearance by following land contours or planting in clumps. Third, make combination plantings, which include a mixture of different species of shrubs and trees.

This is nature's design and results in less disease problems, better use of space, and more vigorous plants. Fourth, remember the best place to plant shrubs or trees is in areas where they grow naturally. Draws and low-lying areas offer wind protection, greater moisture, and more fertile soils.

Selecting plants is one of the most enjoyable tasks. It should be based on your own personal tastes, as well as site location. Observing different shrubs in a nearby arboretum, nursery, or on neighboring land can be helpful in making your choices.

Planting can be done either in the fall or spring. However, most planting is done in the spring when nursery stock is more readily available. Site preparation should include tillage to reduce all competitive growth by grass and weeds. Areas that have a heavy covering of vegetation should be tilled in the fall prior to spring planting. Proper site preparation, more than any other factor, will determine the success of the planting.

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