When you say “shrub,” most folks probably picture “green”—but shrubs actually can bring a whole rainbow of colors to your yard. Planting shrubs will add substance and form to your landscaping because they are generally larger than annual and perennial flowers, and they can provide color in a number of ways:
• Blossoms—Flowering shrubs start delivering early in spring with the forsythia’s golden bloom. For later spring and summer flowers, you have a wide range of colors to consider—from white mock orange and summer sweet to pink spirea and purple smokebush. Lilacs alone can be white, lavender, purple, or blue. Butterfly bush and spirea can continue blooming right into fall.
• Colored foliage—Flowers aren’t the only way shrubs can add color to your yard. Many have colored leaves. Consider barberry, purpleleaf sand cherry, or purple smokebush for rich purple foliage. A number of false cypress, junipers, and arborvitae have golden-hued foliage that contrasts beautifully with darker green conifers. A blue spruce like the popular ‘Fat Albert’ makes a beautiful specimen planted in front of the house or contrasted with other evergreens.
• Variegated foliage—Variegated forms of dogwood, mock orange, weigela and other shrubs have green leaves striped or speckled with white or yellow. These are especially effective when planted where they will be seen up close.
• Fall color—Trees aren’t the only deciduous plants with leaves that flame into yellow, gold, and red in the fall. Many shrubs will light up your yard with blazing color. Consider these: burning bush, sumac, cotoneaster, oakleaf hydrangea, Flaming Globe spirea, or viburnum.
• Winter color—Some shrubs go beyond providing colorful foliage and flowers by maintaining other colorful features through the winter months. The branches of red-osier dogwood and yellow-stemmed dogwood stand out long after they lose their leaves. Other shrubs—including cotoneaster, pyracantha, viburnum, chokeberry, and holly—have red, orange, purple, or black berries that will keep some color in your garden during the off-season.
Whichever shrubs you choose for color, fall is an excellent time to plant them. Just remember to make the planting hole big enough (roughly twice the width of the shrub’s root ball), mix organic matter with the native soil for filling in the hole, and water deeply.
Push some tree & shrub fertilizer spikes into the soil, per the package directions, to encourage good root growth. With a little care in choosing, planting, and maintaining them, your shrubs will continue to add color to your yard year after year!