What You'll Learn
Every garden and yard should include shrubs. They are the backbone of the landscape, the foundation of garden design. Some dazzle with flowers, colorful leaves, or berries; others fill summer evenings with a heavenly scent. The only real trick to growing shrubs is picking the right ones from among the many hundreds available. That's where our selection comes in. These 15 shrubs are all attractive, reliable, trouble-free plants. None have serious pest problems, and they don't require constant pruning or cleanup. Santa Barbara, California, landscape architect Owen Dell describes such plants as "bulletproof — the ones you can pretty much plant and enjoy. Period." When selecting, be sure to match your climate and site conditions to the plant. Some shrubs are virtually carefree coast to coast. Heavenly bamboo, for example, can grow everywhere winter temperatures stay above -10°F. Others perform well only in a specific region. Texas ranger, for instance, thrives only in the arid Southwest. Plant adaptability is usually determined by cold tolerance. Find the average winter minimum temperature for your region (ask at the nursery or extension service) and compare it to the hardiness temperatures listed here (temperatures are Fahrenheit). Hardiness temperatures are a guide, not a rule. The amount of sun, wind, and snow cover as well as soil type also figure prominently in the equation. For additional shrub recommendations and plant sources for your region, consult the organizations listed in "Where to Find It" at the end of this article, along with your local extension service, nurseries, and botanic gardens.