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Old 07-05-2010, 09:12 AM
Location: Milwaukee, WI
603 posts, read 2,324,388 times
Reputation: 310


My husband and I love perennial gardening. At our old house, we had flowers blooming from March until November. We just moved to a new house that doesn't have many perennials. We plan on taking one area at a time, just like we did at our old house, as cost and time allows us to only do so much. One question I had-there are 2, big, slightly overgrown, mature evergreen shrubs in the front of the house. They're in good condition and shape but we have the urge to tear them out. We had the same situation at our last house and we pulled the shrubs. We had no problem filling up the spaces with perennials. One problem was during the winter (lasts a long time here), the front of the house looked a little bare.

My question is, if we pulled the shrubs, how can we make sure the front of the house doesn't look bare in the dead of winter?

Are there any other benefits to the big old shrubs other than greenery in the winter?

I know some people love big, old shrubs but I feel they take space away from our love of gardening.

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Old 07-07-2010, 02:07 PM
Location: West 'Burbs of Chicago
1,216 posts, read 5,680,542 times
Reputation: 450
I'm not much of a shrub person... I have a few in my front year, but nothing really big. I do know what you mean about having something for the winter times.

my front yard, i have 2 Rhods and a dwarf Burning bush. On the side i have two Spireas. That's it. I'm more into the wild look of cottage gardening... though i do keep that in the back, not in the front yard.

Can't help ya much on whether or not to keep your shrubs.... I guess it depends on if you like them or not. I am not opposed to yanking bushes i dont care for.
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Old 07-07-2010, 02:46 PM
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It would really depend on the shrubs, and their condition. If they can be severely pruned back (my friend refers to this as "giving it a haircut") to give you some breathing room they will add bones to the yard when it is too cold for anything else to grow. If the interior branches are not too woody and large already this could be your best option as most shrubs are still in strong enough growth mode to fill in with green in the next few months. Worst case would be they don't survive the haircut and you take them out in the spring.

I'm sure some gardeners would go for all plants and some do find ways to make the dead plants still look interesting. All of the gardens I have had have always had "foundation" planting because it seems easier to create a full look year round. It takes a pretty dedicate gardener to create a garden that looks good all 4 seasons without some basic shrub background. My old garden was loaded with perennials as well as annuals but 5 months out of the year it was too cold for plants (Nov-Mar). Essentially it was a half year of more or less barren (April had bulbs at least) and half a year of flowers and green. Without the bushes, small trees and vines the house would have looked barren as well. Even now when it is, at worst, 3 months of the "winter" look I have a several different color and shaped shrubs to soften the look.

I know that's not much help but I guess more like sympathy. Hard choice!
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Old 07-08-2010, 06:45 AM
Location: New Mexico
433 posts, read 1,124,871 times
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Is there room for a nice decorative birdbath or statues of some kind that can add a little something to the bed during winter? If you keep the water in a birdbath from freezing they would come and that would give you something to look at.
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Old 07-08-2010, 04:04 PM
Location: Buffalo, New York
205 posts, read 469,735 times
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I love evergreens. If you feel your shrubs are taking up too much space then first attempt to trim and prune them back. If you are going to get rid of them then you can even have fun with it. If they don't work out I would remove them and replace them with something smaller. For my garden from late Dec to Apr the evergreens are the only thing with color.

Arctic fire, junipers (gets covered by a fair amount of snow), blue spuce shrubs (on the more expensive side), pine trees, hollies, weeping pines, etc In all sorts of shapes and varieties.
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Old 07-09-2010, 06:06 PM
Location: Milwaukee, WI
603 posts, read 2,324,388 times
Reputation: 310
Thanks for all of the tips!! It's helpful know what to have as a backdrop.
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Old 09-26-2010, 10:56 PM
70 posts, read 180,551 times
Reputation: 28
Great tips..thanks for sharing it....
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