The Q&A Archives: Planting shrubs for the first time ever

Question: Starting from scratch with very old lawn, how do I prepare the ground and plant shrubs such as azaleas and what is the best time of year to do this? What other suggestions do you have for other shrubs to plant close to the house?

Answer: Spring is the best time to plant new shrubs. Removing the lawn shouldn't be much of a problem; cut down into the lawn with a garden spade, making either a circle or a square, then slice beneath the roots of the lawn with the spade. The whole square or circle of turf should come out cleanly. You won't need to amend the soil prior to planting, but you will want to dig a wide hole to loosen the soil for future root growth. Plant your new shrubs at the same finished soil level as they were growing in the nursery pots and then water the in well. As for other shrub suggestions, there are so many plants to choose from, I don't know where to start! There are many types of dwarf evergreen shrubs, including hollies, spruces, pines, false cypress, and others. Choose plants that remain small, rather than relying on frequent pruning to keep them to a manageable size. Azaleas and spirea are also good choices. Perennials include coreopsis, echinacea, sedum, asters, Shasta daisies, veronica, and rudbeckia. Be sure to place plants at least a foot and preferably further from your foundation, and preferably away from the eaves. You want them far enough away from the house and any overhangs to receive rainfall, otherwise you'll have to water them frequently, even during the winter months.

Best wishes with your gardening project.

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