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Are you sure that’s the right shrub?

Are you sure that’s the right shrub?

Shrubs suitable for planting on banks or slopes have suckering root systems or branches that root where they touch the ground. Use shrubs tolerant of adverse growing conditions.

A number of shrubs grow and bloom in shade. These shrubs don’t require shade — they simply adapt to it better than other shrubs. Many shade-tolerant shrubs grow better when given more light.

Shrubs — especially those with thorns — can be used as a barrier to unwanted foot traffic. But consider the possibility of injury resulting from the use of shrubs with thorns. Always consider future possibilities when selecting a shrub. Pruning, maintaining or removing a planting of shrubs with thorns is difficult. An armed barrier plant should not be invasive. Species of rose are used effectively as barrier plants, but they spread rapidly and are difficult to get rid of.

Hedges or screens of shrubs provide privacy. A hedge is clipped or sheared to keep it at some definite width and height. A screen grows to whatever height and width is normal for the plants making up the screen.

Shrubs in screens should have a dense branching habit. Avoid those with a tendency to form large thickets of suckers. When shrubs lose the bottom branches, cut the plants off within a few inches of the ground to rejuvenate the screen. Screens tend to look more natural and require less maintenance than hedges.

Hedges provide privacy and create a thick barrier, but they have a high maintenance requirement. Some hedges need shearing two to four times a year to maintain a manicured appearance. A hedge gains one to two inches of growth at every shearing. Hedges are sheared to be wider at the bottom to prevent the bottom of the hedge from becoming bare of foliage. Most deciduous hedges are rejuvenated by cutting them back to within a few inches of the ground. Shrubs selected for a hedge must be tolerant of shearing.

Here are the steps to follow when starting a hedge with young plants of deciduous shrubs. At planting, cut the plants to within two to four inches of the ground; then allow them to grow. The spacing of plants in a hedge depends on the plant used. Clip new growth two to three times during the growing season to shape the hedge. Once the hedge shape is established, fewer trimmings are needed. Use string stretched along the hedge at the desired height as a shearing guide to maintain a uniform height. Do not shear the hedge after late summer when the plants are getting prepared for winter.

Shrubs direct traffic around property corners by keeping pedestrians on the sidewalk. Plantings in the front yard should not block drivers’ views of the street when cars are leaving the driveway.

Trees growing close together may create a mowing problem. A planting of shade-tolerant shrubs around the trees eliminates the need to mow around the trees, making mowing easier and protecting the trees from lawn mower injury. This type of planting ties the trees together in one mass and works best when the trees are fairly close together.

A foundation planting need not consist of a solid row of shrubs–a few carefully selected and placed shrubs can be more effective. Finding a shrub that will fit in the space allotted to it at maturity should not be difficult.

A number of shrubs can be used as ground covers. Like other ground covers, they should be adapted to conditions found in the growing area.

Another good thing to remember when designing with shrubs in your landscape is the more natural growth habits your shrub has, the less maintenance it will require. The more formal growth habits it has, the more maintenance it will require to keep it that way. Always educate yourself on all of the growth habit and mature sizes of shrubs you’re planning to use so you don’t end up with any surprises you’re not ready for. I have been to many clients homes that five to 10 years ago they planted this little tiny shrub from Home Depot they knew absolutely nothing about only to find out the hard way they can now no longer get in the front entry of their home due to this monstrosity that has grown up and blocked every possible access. The pizza delivery guy and I didn’t know if we were at the right place due to the fact that we couldn’t locate the address!

Question: Jimmie, please help!!! I have no idea what I just found on my bush outside. Day before yesterday the bush was fine, but I saw the almost 1-1/2 to 2 inch things hanging from it that looked sort of like a pine cone…I just thought it was something new growing on the tree/bush. This afternoon, I went out to water the plants, and the whole side of the bush is almost gone, turned brown. I looked at the things I thought were growing on it and saw that they moved!! I ran inside and got garden spray and they seemed to be worms trying to come out of them. This has really freaked me out. I want the bushes gone. I have always loved them because they grow like a tree; they look a little like a pine but with flowing needles that are really soft. They are a light green in color. I do not know what kind of bush it is. Please tell me what those things are, and what will get rid of them until I can get someone to cut them down for me. I don’t even want them in my yard now. That one looks ruined anyway.

Thank you for your time. Linda T. in Prosper

Answer: Hi Linda, it sounds like what you have are Bagworms. They are common to the plant you are describing the Arborvitae. What is needed is to remove them, put them in a little bag, and then burn them. After you have done this you will Need to spray your plants with Malathion, (follow directions on the label). You should do this about once a month during the growing season. Hope this helps. Until next time…Happy Gardening!!


Send your landscaping and gardening questions to Jimmie Gibson Jr. at or

 Jimmie Gibson is a Prosper resident and the owner of Absolutely Bushed Landscaping Company, an award winning, family and veteran owned and operated business created in 1980 to provide the highest quality custom outdoor renovation available to homeowners in the Dallas Ft. Worth area.

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