One of the primary advantages of most shrubs is that they require little maintenance. Once a shrub has become accustomed to a location, its roots spread out through many cubic feet of soil, often far beyond the limits of the branches and deep into the ground. This makes it easier for them to access water and nutrients and reduces their need for regular maintenance. However, a few steps will greatly improve their health.
Keep old leaves picked up during the entire season — they are often the source of infection for various diseases and offer a safe hiding place for many damaging insects (especially over the winter months).
Keep pruning shears clean and sharp, and use them correctly. Bark tears easily and heals slowly. Many insects and diseases will attack only if there is an opening in the bark. Learn the proper pruning techniques to avoid undue damage to your trees.
Remove and control weeds regularly, before they offer competition to surrounding plants.
Practice a thorough cleanup before winter sets in. Remove debris and other likely homes for over-wintering insects and diseases.
To promote healthier plants and minimize the weed population, keep a 3-inch layer of mulch around your shrubs, but keep the mulch a few inches away from stems or trunks.