Planting And Caring For Bushes And Shrubs

Planting And Caring For Bushes And Shrubs

Ensure good soil conditions before planting

Prepare the future site for your shrubs and bushes conscientiously. Specifically, this means making sure that your woody plant can root deeply in the soil and is not exposed to waterlogging. Otherwise, the latter in particular quickly becomes a danger, as it prevents the absorption of oxygen via the roots.

Four tips for soil preparation:

You should make heavy clay soils more permeable with sand or gravel.
Sandy soils are well suited as subsoils, but have the disadvantage that water and nutrients cannot be stored for long.
Soil-improving measures such as the addition of high-quality plant soil, peat or compost before planting will thank you with a strong and healthy growth of the woody plant.
For new planting we recommend our soil activator. This promotes humus formation and loosens the soil structure.
Planting bushes and shrubs: Instructions, spacing and timing
In the following, we show you how and when to plant shrubs as well as bushes and give you further practical tips:

Instructions: Planting shrubs in 6 steps.

Step 1: Before planting, place the root ball in a water bath until no more air bubbles rise and it is saturated. This will take about ten minutes.
Step 2: Make a planting hole about twice the size of the plant pot or root ball. Make sure the ground is well loosened to avoid waterlogging.
Step 3: Soil compaction or waterlogging will cause growth depression. Place a drainage layer of gravel or grit – if necessary – in the bottom of the planting hole.
Step 4: Carefully remove the plant from the pot and place it in the prepared planting hole. If the root ball is heavily rooted, lightly cut it in advance with cross cuts. This will encourage new root formation to the outside. Plant the woody plant about three to five centimeters deeper than in the pot supplied.
Step 5: After planting, press the garden soil around the plant well and form a watering wall. This will make watering easier in the coming weeks.
Step 6: Now be sure to water abundantly. Slurry the soil around the new plant well.
Important: Watering according to the weather is crucial in the weeks after planting. Evergreen plants in particular need adequate moisture, even in winter.

The correct planting distance

If the bush and shrub are not to be solitary in single position, but form groups or even hedges, it is elementary to maintain a suitable distance. In fact, too close placement can lead to competitive situations in various ways, causing growth problems and reduced flowering.

Consequently, before planting shrubs to define a distance is useful. If you do not want to create a dense hedge, the rule of thumb is: planting distance = half the maximum height of growth.

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However, always make sure to check the individual description of your plant. Here you will usually find more specific information about suitable spacing. With us, you can find the recommendation in the plant descriptions.

Don’t forget: For larger bushes and shrubs near property lines, involve the neighborhood and obtain information from the municipality regarding limits. Nothing is more annoying than having to remove a freshly planted shrub.

Planting bushes and shrubs: When is the right time?

Our plants reach you in pots. Pot culture has the advantage over bare-root goods that they can be planted all year round, except in the case of prolonged frost in the ground. Furthermore, these plants are stronger and do not need to be shortened or pruned after planting.

Basically, the following applies to planting shrubs: in spring, plants often form new roots somewhat more quickly and, accordingly, connect with the soil more quickly. In the fall, this takes a little longer, but by winter, with good care and optimal site preparation, growing is absolutely possible even then.

Fertilize bushes and shrubs: This is important

With a professional fertilization you ensure that your plants remain resistant and healthy throughout the year. The joy of flowering can also be stimulated and optimized with species-appropriate fertilizer for shrubs. Fertilizing just before winter is not a good idea, however, as it can increase a plant’s susceptibility to frost.

Deciduous shrubs need basic fertilization in the spring with horn shavings or this special fertilizer. At flowering time, you can support flowering shrubs with this liquid fertilizer. Conifers are best supplied additionally with Epsom salt.

Watering shrubs and bushes properly

A good water supply is essential for vital and beautiful plants. Through water, the plant obtains all the nutrients from the soil that are important for its growth and stable health.

If a deficiency occurs due to drought, this leads to the weakening of the plant. The woody plant is thus more susceptible to disease and pest infestation.

Good to know: Should your beloved plants ever be infested by uninvited guests, we have numerous illustrated guides ready for you in our “Pests and Diseases in the Garden” section. Take a look!

In suitable locations, older woody plants that have grown into the ground are usually self-sufficient due to their existing, deep root system. In hot and dry summers, however, you should water them additionally as needed.

When planting a new plant, you should consider installing an irrigation system. For this purpose, we recommend this set, which is specially designed for hedges, bushes and shrubs. It is characterized by easy installation and ensures that you can relax even on hot summer days. If you have any questions about the product, we are here to help.

Pruning bushes and shrubs correctly: The basic rules

As the proud owner of a diverse garden with various woody plants, the subject of pruning also comes to you over time. It serves to correct the appearance (habit) of a woody plant, to rejuvenate it or to maintain and, if necessary, increase its flowering capacity.

With the help of these basic rules, pruning shrubs and bushes can be done without any problems:

Check tools for proper operation and sharpness before pruning. You should avoid injuring the bark by tearing the cut surface at all costs.
A cut is always made only above a bud (eye) or close to a branch. To find out which pruning rule applies to which woody plant, please refer to the fact sheets we have created for each plant.
Caution: Many bird species nest and breed in deciduous and coniferous trees during the early summer and summer. Therefore, please check hedges and woody strips for any occupied nests and breeding sites before each pruning.

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If a plant is currently “inhabited,” postpone the work until a later time. In this way, you will maintain the protective character that your garden should provide as a home for our native fauna.

When to prune bushes

When pruning bushes and shrubs, the following applies: both great heat and extreme sunlight, as well as frost, can damage the fresh cuts. That’s why spring and autumn are the most suitable times for pruning bushes and shrubs. As for the appropriate time, you should always pay attention to the weather forecast and, in the best case, choose a not too warm day with moderate cloud cover.

In addition, the individual nature of the plant determines the appropriate time: so you should not cut spring-flowering shrubs such as forsythia before flowering, but later. Otherwise, you may remove buds and thus later blossoms, which will make the upcoming flowering splendor far more sparse. Summer bloomers may be pruned after frost and before resprouting.  

Cut back shrubs and bushes: What types there are and what they are for
Shrubs-Bushes pruningHow you should cut back bushes and shrubs, also depends on the type of intervention. Accordingly, you can apply the scissors only for thinning, but equally for more radical measures such as severe pruning.

Below you will learn about the goals and methods of pruning shrubs and bushes:

The thinning pruning of shrubs and trees.

Thin out woody plants regularly, especially in the crown area. To do this, remove dense and cross-growing shoots first, because each branch should always grow outward from the base and not into the crown.

If the woody plant has become too large, shorten the side shoots evenly. Try to always cut shoots above an outward facing eye (dormant bud). This way, your woody plant will retain its natural growth habit despite pruning.

The rejuvenation cut

With this pruning you prevent balding from below and keep your woody plant in a compact, young and flowering form. Remove old shoots as deeply as possible from the base, taking care not to damage the surrounding ones. This will create space and air for new, young shoots.

If you prune only superficially, you would otherwise end up with a bald, old plant with sparse and intergrown young shoots from the upper cut surface after only a few years. If you always apply the previously mentioned pruning rule to the oldest shoots, no shoot will be older than four or five years.

The severe pruning

By radical pruning to 20 to 50 centimeters (depending on growth size), you stimulate flowering shoot formation. Especially the summer bloomers will thank you for a severe pruning carried out in spring with lush blooms.

For optimal care, you should apply a fertilizer after pruning (for information, see subsection above). In this way, the plant will be able to thrive for the new flowering season.

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Our tip: You can use the resulting cuttings as building material for Benjes hedges, for example. This way you don’t have to dispose of the branches and at the same time create a species-appropriate place for all kinds of animals. In our guide you will learn everything you need to know about creating a Benjes hedge.

The straight line hedge trimming

Hedge-cutting-straightYou basically need to pay attention to very little when cutting hedges. However, it takes a lot of practice and skill to achieve long, straight cuts and edges. In principle, you should trim hedges at least once – better yet twice – a year.

The ideal times are in spring at the end of March or beginning of April and in late summer at the end of June or beginning of July. For long hedges, it is worth purchasing an electric or gasoline-powered hedge trimmer.  

Topiary of shrubs and bushes

With topiary, the main focus is on clean-cut shapes and edges, which is why pruning is always recommended after the main growing seasons. It is advisable to prune twice a year: the first cut in late April or early May and the second in August.

For straight edges and corners, it is advisable to stretch strings before applying the scissors. This will give you the most accurate shapes possible. If you want to cut curves, occasionally take a step back while working and prefer to cut gently. This will prevent unsightly dents and holes.

By the way, to prevent browning of the intersections, do not prune in full-sun weather.
Shrubs and bushes without pruning
In particular, shrubs with slow, often picturesque growth (e.g.: magnolias, flowering dogwoods or the witch hazel) do not need pruning except for a training pruning in young years. This pruning is usually already done and completed for the plants from our nursery.

If small branches should disturb once, you can remove these confidently. However, pruning in the sense of rejuvenation should not be done. This would alter the growth typical of the plant and the woody plant would no longer be able to regenerate.

Of course, pruning is often a site-dependent and situation-related task. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us!


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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