Shrubs or landscaping shrubs cannot be easily categorized. Shrubs range in size from small plants such as dwarf boxwood to the popular and large lilac shrub. Landscaping shrubs can be deciduous or evergreen and they can be used for so many purposes. Colorful variegated shrubs can really lighten up a dark corner of a yard and dark foliaged shrubs offer beautiful backgrounds for smaller shrubs, grasses, or flowers. Landscaping shrubs are used for foundation plantings, specimen plants, and privacy hedges. Some varieties of shrubs are so versatile that they can serve as foundation planting, a specimen, or in an attractive hedge. A popular shrub plant, holly, comes to mind as a multi-use plant that fit many landscaping applications. Foliage appearance such as leaf color, variegated leaves, leaf size, and foliage density are important considerations if a shrub is being selected for a specific use in the landscape.
Some of the most popular shrub varieties are holly, juniper, lilacs, spirea, burning bush, butterfly bush, forsythia, roses and boxwoods. The evergreen shrub varieties are represented by holly, boxwood, and junipers. Plant these evergreen varieties for winter interest and color contrasts. The fragrant shrub category is headed by the lilac and the rose. Who can resist a quick sniff of a blooming rose or lilac? Roses, such as Rugosa roses, and lilacs are popular varieties for hedges and specimen plants. Flowering deciduous shrubs such as forsythia, spirea, and butterfly bush are popular choices for yard landscapes. These shrubs can provide spectacular flower shows and then provide season long beauty with their attractive foliage. Add a burning bush to a landscape for unmatched fall color. The burning bush serves as an attractive spring and summer specimen and then it virtually lights up the landscape with the fire red leaves in the fall. Plant the burning bush for the winter interest it provides. Many shrubs also provide cover, berries, and seeds for the wildlife that passes through the landscape on a yearly and seasonal basis. Contented birds in a forsythia bush could certainly provide a wildlife lover a moment of peaceful joy and reflection.
The variegated shrub is growing in popularity because of the various color combinations and contrast they provide. Variegated shrubs can be both evergreen and deciduous. A good example of an evergreen shrub would be the Emerald and Green Euonymus. The gold and green leaf variegation is quite colorful and bright. This plant would make an excellent foundation plant to anchor a flower bed or perennial arrangement. Another popular variegated plant is the Adams Needle Yucca plant. The sword like leaves of the Adams Needle are edged with a creamy white to yellowish color. The evergreen Adams Needle will certainly draw attention and provide a focal point in a garden. Other variegated evergreen shrubs of note would include variegated boxwood and gold net honeysuckle. Deciduous variegated shrubs attract the eye quite easily because the leaf area is usually larger than evergreens and the variegation may be more distinct. Variegated dogwood, viburnum, willow, elderberry, weigela, forsythia, and barberry shrubs are all available to brighten landscapes. Variegated deciduous shrubs are chosen primarily for their foliage but they retain all the hardy shrub qualities of the other members of their species. Variegated shrubs are most often used to brighten a dark area or used as the center of attention or as a focal point in the landscape. Leaf variegation differs from plant to plant. Green portions of the leaf are replaced with a different color or shade. The variegated parts of the leaf may be neat or blotchy, depending on the variety, cultivar, or specimen.