How to use shrubs in your landscape? What types of shrubs to choose?

Shrubs can perform any of several functions in a landscape plan. They can shield your house from winter winds and shade it from the summer sun. Their roots can help hold the soil around the foundation, the driveway, or a steep slope. Shrubs can enclose a private area, define a path or walkway, hide a compost pile or an unsightly shed, or mark boundary lines.

Their blossoms and fruits can add color and fragrance to your yard, attract butterflies and songbirds, and even put food on your table. A flowering specimen can be the focal point of an open lawn or the backdrop for a bed of bulbs and annuals.

For year-round privacy or a winter windscreen, look for large evergreens, such as as myrtle, holly, mountain laurel, yew, or upright junipers. For foundation plantings, select low-growing shrubs that won’t block your windows as they mature. To cover a bare slope, try a spreading juniper, euonymus, or heath. For fragrant blossoms near your patio or bedroom window, use a lilac, mock orange, honeysuckle, or jasmine.

For showy blossoms in full sun, choose a forsythia, flowering quince, natal plum, or oleander; in shade, try an andromeda, hydrangea, rhododendron, or witch hazel. If you have problems with browsing deer, look for shrubs that they dislike, including daphnes, hollies, junipers, and mahonias.

Next, consider the climate. Shrubs are rated for winter hardiness according to a zone map prepared by the U.S. Department of Agriculture: most garden guides and encyclopedias include a copy of this map, or you can write for one to the USDA Office of Public Affairs, Washington, DC 20250. The zone map, however, is only a general guide. For names of shrubs that tolerate local conditions {soil, rainfall, altitude, humidity) consult your Cooperative Extension Service.