How To Plant Shrubs In Front Of House [ Full Guide ]

Landscaping the front of your house with shrubs can significantly enhance its curb appeal and create a welcoming atmosphere. However, achieving a well-landscaped front yard requires careful planning and execution. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the detailed steps of how to plant shrubs in front of your house, starting from selecting the right shrubs to preparing the soil and determining the ideal location for planting.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Shrubs In Front Of House

When planting shrubs in front of your house, you need to follow these key steps:

  1. Selecting the right shrubs: Choose shrubs based on the climate, size, and maintenance requirements that suit your landscaping needs.
  2. Determining the ideal location: Assess the sunlight, soil conditions, and space to determine the best spots for planting the shrubs.
  3. Preparing the soil: Ensure the soil is well-drained, fertile, and adequately prepared to support healthy shrub growth.
  4. Planting the shrubs: Once everything is ready, carefully plant the shrubs, ensuring proper spacing and depth.
  5. Caring for the shrubs: After planting, provide adequate water, mulch, and ongoing maintenance to promote healthy growth.

Now, let’s delve into each of these steps in detail.

Selecting The Right Shrubs For Your Front Yard

Choosing the right shrubs for your front yard is crucial for creating an aesthetically pleasing and low-maintenance landscape. Consider the following factors when selecting shrubs:

Climate And Hardiness Zone

Before choosing shrubs for your front yard, determine the hardiness zone of your area. This will help you select shrubs that can thrive in your local climate. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides a hardiness zone map that categorizes regions based on their average annual minimum winter temperature. Once you know your hardiness zone, look for shrubs that are recommended for that specific zone.

Size And Shape

Consider the size and shape you want the shrubs to grow into. This will depend on the available space in your front yard and the overall design aesthetics you are aiming for. Some shrubs grow tall and narrow, while others spread out wide. Additionally, some shrubs have a more rounded shape, while others have an upright, columnar growth pattern.

Maintenance Requirements

Think about the maintenance level you are comfortable with. Some shrubs require regular pruning and shaping, while others are more low-maintenance and can thrive without much intervention.

Soil And Sunlight Requirements

Different shrubs have varying soil and sunlight requirements. Some shrubs prefer well-drained soil, while others can tolerate moist conditions. Similarly, some thrive in full sunlight, while others prefer partial or full shade. Consider these factors to ensure that the shrubs you choose will thrive in the conditions of your front yard.

Examples Of Popular Front Yard Shrubs

Here are some popular shrubs that are often used in front yard landscaping:

  • Boxwood: Known for its dense, evergreen foliage, boxwood shrubs are versatile and can be shaped into various forms.
  • Forsythia: This deciduous shrub is cherished for its vibrant yellow flowers that bloom in early spring.
  • Azalea: Azaleas offer a burst of color with their showy flowers and are available in a variety of sizes and colors.
  • Hydrangea: These shrubs produce large, striking blooms and are available in different varieties suited for various climates.

Take the time to research and select the right shrubs that align with the specific needs and aesthetics of your front yard.

Determining The Ideal Location For Planting Shrubs

After selecting the shrubs for your front yard, it’s essential to determine the ideal locations to plant them. Consider the following factors:

Sunlight Exposure

Observe how sunlight moves across your front yard throughout the day. Different shrubs have varying sunlight requirements. Some thrive in full sunlight, while others prefer partial shade. Select the planting locations based on the sunlight needs of the chosen shrubs.

Soil Drainage

Assess the drainage patterns in your front yard. Ensure that the planting locations have good drainage to prevent waterlogging, which can be detrimental to the health of the shrubs. If the soil in certain areas retains water excessively, consider implementing drainage solutions or selecting shrubs that can tolerate such conditions.

Space And Proximity To Structures

Consider the mature size of the shrubs and ensure that you plant them at a distance from your house, driveway, and walkways, allowing for adequate growing space. Planting too close to structures can lead to maintenance issues, such as overgrown branches encroaching on the house or pathways.

Aesthetic Considerations

Visualize how the shrubs will complement the overall aesthetic of your front yard. Consider factors such as the backdrop, neighboring plants, and the existing design elements when determining the placement of the shrubs.

By carefully considering these factors, you can strategically plan the placement of the shrubs to optimize their growth and visual impact in your front yard.

Preparing The Soil For Optimal Shrub Growth

Before planting the shrubs, it’s crucial to prepare the soil to create a supportive environment for their growth. Follow these steps to prepare the soil:

Test The Soil

Obtain a soil test kit or contact your local agricultural extension service to test the soil in your front yard. The soil test will provide valuable insights into its pH level and nutrient composition. Based on the results, you can take corrective measures, such as adjusting the pH or adding specific nutrients, to ensure optimal growing conditions for the shrubs.

Amend The Soil

Based on the soil test results, amend the soil as necessary. This may involve adding organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, to improve the soil structure and fertility. Additionally, you may need to address any nutrient deficiencies by incorporating appropriate fertilizers or soil amendments.

Ensure Good Drainage

Address any drainage issues in the planting areas by incorporating amendments to improve drainage, such as adding organic matter to clay soils or creating raised beds in areas with poor drainage. Adequate drainage is crucial for preventing waterlogging, which can adversely affect the health of the shrubs.

Remove Weeds And Debris

Clear the planting areas of any weeds, rocks, or debris that can hinder the growth of the shrubs. Removing these impediments will create a clean and conducive environment for the shrubs to thrive.

Install Edging (Optional)

Consider installing edging, such as landscape pavers or metal strips, to delineate the planting areas and prevent grass or weeds from encroaching on the shrub beds. This can help maintain a neat and organized appearance in your front yard.

By taking these steps to prepare the soil, you can create an optimal growing environment that sets the stage for the healthy establishment of the shrubs in your front yard.

Planting The Shrubs

Once the soil is prepared, it’s time to plant the shrubs in your front yard. Follow these guidelines for successful shrub planting:

Digging The Planting Holes

When digging the planting holes, ensure that they are at least twice as wide as the root ball of the shrub and at a depth equivalent to the height of the root ball. This allows ample space for the roots to spread out and establish themselves in the soil.

Positioning The Shrubs

Carefully position the shrubs in the planting holes, ensuring that they are centered and upright. Make any necessary adjustments to the depth of the holes to ensure that the shrubs will be planted at the same level as they were in their original containers.

Backfilling The Holes

Gently backfill the holes with the amended soil, ensuring that there are no air pockets around the roots. Tamp down the soil lightly as you fill the holes to eliminate air gaps and provide stability to the shrubs.

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Watering The Shrubs

After planting, thoroughly water the shrubs to settle the soil and hydrate the roots. This initial watering is crucial for ensuring that the shrubs establish themselves in their new environment.

Applying Mulch

Spread a layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips or shredded bark, around the base of the shrubs. Mulch helps retain soil moisture, suppresses weed growth, and regulates soil temperature, contributing to the overall health of the shrubs.

Staking (If Needed)

If the shrubs are tall and have a tendency to lean, use stakes and ties to provide additional support until the roots become established. This is especially important for young shrubs that may be susceptible to displacement by wind or other environmental factors.

Providing Ongoing Care

After planting, continue to provide regular care, including watering, pruning, and monitoring for pests and diseases, to promote the healthy growth of the shrubs in your front yard.

By following these steps, you can ensure that the shrubs are planted with care and attention to detail, setting the stage for their long-term health and vitality in your front yard.

Landscaping with shrubs in the front of your house can elevate the visual appeal of your property and contribute to a welcoming and inviting ambiance. By selecting the right shrubs, determining ideal planting locations, and preparing the soil, you can establish a thriving landscape that enhances the beauty of your home. Planting shrubs in your front yard requires thoughtful consideration of factors such as climate suitability, sunlight exposure, soil preparation, and care requirements. By following the comprehensive steps outlined in this guide, you can embark on the process of planting shrubs in front of your house with confidence and expertise, ultimately creating a stunning and well-landscaped front yard.

Tools And Equipment Needed For Planting Shrubs

Having shrubs planted in front of your house can greatly enhance its curb appeal. Shrubs not only provide beautiful foliage and vibrant blooms, but they also contribute to a well-maintained and organized landscape. Planting shrubs in front of your house can also provide privacy, shade, and attract wildlife.

Before you begin planting shrubs in front of your house, make sure you have the necessary tools and equipment. Here are the items you will need:

  1. Shovel: A sturdy shovel is essential for digging the holes for your shrubs.
  2. Trowel: A small garden trowel will come in handy for loosening the soil and digging smaller holes.
  3. Pruning Shears: These will be used for trimming and shaping your shrubs once they are planted.
  4. Garden Gloves: Protect your hands from dirt and potential thorns with a good pair of garden gloves.
  5. Wheelbarrow: Use a wheelbarrow to transport soil, mulch, and any other materials you may need during the planting process.
  6. Stake and Twine: These will be used to provide support for young or newly planted shrubs.
  7. Watering Can or Hose: Ensure you have a reliable source of water to keep your shrubs hydrated.

Step-by-step Guide To Planting Shrubs In Front Of Your House

Now that you have gathered all the necessary tools and equipment, it’s time to dive into the step-by-step process of planting shrubs in front of your house. Follow these guidelines for optimal results:

1. Determine The Location

The first step is to determine the ideal location for your shrubs. Consider factors such as sunlight, soil conditions, and proximity to other plants or structures. Shrubs generally thrive in areas with well-drained soil and receive at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. Keep in mind the mature size of your shrubs to allow for appropriate spacing between plants.

2. Prepare The Soil

Before planting your shrubs, it’s important to prepare the soil to ensure optimal growth. Start by removing any weeds or grass from the planting area. Dig a hole that is two to three times the width of the root ball and slightly shallower than the height of the root ball. Loosen the soil in the bottom of the hole with a garden trowel. This will help the roots penetrate the soil easily and establish themselves more effectively.

3. Remove The Shrub From Its Container

Carefully remove the shrub from its container by lightly tapping the sides or squeezing it. Gently tease the roots apart if they are tightly bound. This will encourage the roots to grow outward into the surrounding soil. If the shrub has a larger root ball, place it in the hole and position it so that the top of the root ball sits slightly higher than the surface of the surrounding soil. For smaller shrubs in pots, make sure the top of the root ball is level with the soil.

4. Backfill The Hole

Once the shrub is properly positioned, begin backfilling the hole with the soil you removed earlier. Use your hands or a shovel to fill in the space around the roots, ensuring there are no air pockets. Gently tamp down the soil as you go to create a firm base for the shrub. Be careful not to compact the soil too tightly, as this can hinder root growth.

5. Stake The Shrub (if Necessary)

If you are planting a young or top-heavy shrub, you may need to provide support in the form of stakes. Insert the stake into the ground, ensuring it is positioned on the side opposite to prevailing winds. Use twine or plant ties to secure the shrub to the stake, allowing it to grow upright while establishing its root system.

6. Water Thoroughly

After planting your shrub, it is crucial to give it a thorough watering. This helps settle the soil around the roots and ensures the shrub has enough moisture to establish itself. Use a watering can or a hose with a gentle spray attachment to water the shrub until the soil is evenly moist. Avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot and disease.

7. Mulch The Area

Applying a layer of mulch around your newly planted shrub is important for several reasons. Mulch helps conserve moisture, suppresses weed growth, and maintains a more consistent soil temperature. Spread a 2-3 inch layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips or bark, around the base of the shrub, taking care not to let it touch the trunk. This will create an attractive and beneficial environment for your shrub to flourish.

Watering And Fertilizing Shrubs For Healthy Growth

Once your shrubs are planted, it’s important to establish a routine for watering and fertilizing to ensure they stay healthy and thrive in front of your house. Here are some guidelines to follow:

Watering

Watering is crucial, especially during the early stages when shrubs are establishing their root systems. After the initial watering upon planting, continue to water your shrubs regularly, especially during dry periods. Aim to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Avoid shallow and frequent watering, as this can lead to shallow root growth. Instead, provide deep, thorough waterings to encourage deep root growth. Monitor the soil moisture levels by checking the top few inches of soil with your finger. If it feels dry, it’s time to water.

Fertilizing

Fertilizing your shrubs is important for providing essential nutrients they may not receive from the soil alone. Apply a balanced slow-release fertilizer or a specific fertilizer for shrubs once or twice a year, following the instructions on the package. Avoid over-fertilizing, as this can lead to excessive growth and weak branches. Always water your shrubs after applying fertilizer to help distribute the nutrients and prevent burning the roots. It’s also beneficial to use organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, as a natural fertilizer. Spread a thin layer around the base of the shrub, taking care not to touch the trunk.

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Pruning And Shaping Shrubs For Aesthetic Appeal

Regular pruning and shaping of your shrubs will help maintain their aesthetic appeal and keep them healthy. Proper pruning techniques also promote better airflow and sunlight penetration, reducing the risk of disease. Here are some tips for pruning and shaping your shrubs:

Pruning Tools

Invest in a good pair of pruning shears or loppers to make clean and precise cuts. Make sure the blades are sharp to avoid damaging the branches.

When To Prune

The timing of pruning depends on the type of shrub you have planted. Some shrubs require pruning immediately after flowering, while others are best pruned during dormancy in late winter or early spring. Research the specific pruning requirements for your shrub to determine the best time to prune.

Pruning Techniques

Start by removing any dead, damaged, or diseased branches by cutting them back to healthy wood. This will improve the overall health and appearance of the shrub. Next, selectively prune to shape the shrub and encourage bushier growth. Make cuts just above a bud or lateral branch junction. Avoid shearing shrubs into geometric shapes, as it can lead to weak growth and reduce the natural form of the plant.

Regular Maintenance

Make pruning and shaping a regular part of your shrub maintenance routine. This will prevent overgrowth and help promote a healthy and attractive appearance. Monitor your shrubs for any signs of pests or disease and take appropriate action if needed, such as removing affected branches or treating with organic pest control methods.

Planting shrubs in front of your house can significantly enhance its overall appearance and create a welcoming environment. By following the step-by-step guide provided in this article, you can ensure that your shrubs are planted correctly for optimal growth and health. Proper watering, fertilizing, pruning, and shaping techniques will help your shrubs thrive and maintain their aesthetic appeal for years to come. So grab your tools, get your hands dirty, and transform the front of your house with beautiful and vibrant shrubs.

Dealing With Common Pests And Diseases In Shrubs

Planting shrubs in front of your house can add beauty, color, and charm to your landscaping. Shrubs not only enhance the curb appeal of your home, but they also provide privacy, attract pollinators, and can even help reduce noise pollution. However, proper planning and care are essential for successful shrub planting.

Before diving into the planting process, it’s important to be aware of common pests and diseases that may affect shrubs. By being proactive and taking preventive measures, you can significantly reduce the risk of damage to your shrubs. Here are a few pests and diseases to watch out for:

Aphids

Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that feed on the sap of shrubs. They can cause distorted growth, yellowing leaves, and the production of a sticky substance called honeydew. To control aphids, you can spray your shrubs with a mixture of dish soap and water or use insecticidal soap.

Spider Mites

Spider mites are another common pest that can cause damage to shrubs. These tiny insects feed on the sap of the plants, leading to discoloration, yellowing, and eventually, defoliation. Spider mites can be controlled by regularly spraying the shrubs with a strong jet of water or by using a miticide.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that appears as a white, powdery coating on the leaves of shrubs. It can cause stunted growth, leaf curling, and eventual defoliation. To prevent and control powdery mildew, make sure your shrubs have good airflow and avoid overhead watering. If an infection occurs, you can apply a fungicide recommended for powdery mildew.

Root Rot

Root rot is a common disease that affects the roots of shrubs, leading to wilted leaves, stunted growth, and eventual death. To prevent root rot, make sure your shrubs are planted in well-drained soil and avoid overwatering. If you suspect root rot, you may need to dig up the shrub, remove any affected roots, and replant it in fresh soil.

Taking the time to monitor your shrubs regularly and implementing preventive measures can help you keep common pests and diseases at bay, ensuring the health and longevity of your shrubs.

Maintaining And Caring For Shrubs Throughout The Seasons

Once you have planted your shrubs, proper maintenance and care are crucial to their growth and overall health. Here are some guidelines to follow throughout the seasons:

Spring

Spring is a crucial time for shrub care as it is when most shrubs begin their active growth phase. During this season, you should:

  1. Pruning: Prune your shrubs to remove any dead, damaged, or diseased branches. This will promote healthy growth and improve the overall appearance of your shrubs.
  2. Fertilizing: Apply a slow-release, balanced fertilizer to provide essential nutrients to your shrubs.
  3. Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of your shrubs to retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.

Summer

Summer is the season when shrubs are in full bloom and require extra attention to thrive. Here’s what you should do:

  1. Watering: Make sure your shrubs receive adequate water during hot and dry periods. Water deeply and less frequently to encourage deep root growth.
  2. Deadheading: Remove faded flowers from flowering shrubs to encourage new growth and prolong the blooming period.
  3. Weeding: Regularly weed around your shrubs to reduce competition for nutrients and water.
  4. Pruning: Lightly prune your shrubs if needed to maintain their shape and control their size.

Fall

Fall is a time of preparation for the colder months ahead. To ensure the survival of your shrubs during winter, take the following steps:

  1. Pruning: Prune any dead, damaged, or overgrown branches before the frost sets in.
  2. Mulching: Apply a fresh layer of mulch around the base of your shrubs to provide insulation and protect their roots from freezing temperatures.
  3. Watering: Keep watering your shrubs until the ground freezes to ensure they are well-hydrated before winter arrives.

Winter

During the winter, most shrubs are dormant, and less maintenance is required. However, you can still take a few precautions to protect your shrubs:

  1. Snow removal: Shake off or gently brush away heavy snow from the branches to prevent them from breaking.
  2. Avoid salt: If you use salt to melt ice on your driveway or walkways, avoid getting it near your shrubs, as it can damage their roots and foliage.
  3. Monitor moisture: Check the moisture level in the soil occasionally. If it is extremely dry, provide supplemental watering if possible.

By following these maintenance guidelines throughout the seasons, you can ensure the health and longevity of your shrubs, keeping them vibrant and beautiful year-round.

Choosing Companion Plants To Complement Your Shrubs

To create a visually appealing landscape, considering companion plants that complement your shrubs is a must. Companion plants not only enhance the overall aesthetic but can also provide additional benefits such as attracting pollinators and repelling pests. Here are some factors to keep in mind when selecting companion plants:

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Height And Spread

Consider the height and spread of your shrubs when choosing companion plants. Opt for plants that will not overshadow your shrubs or overcrowd them. Selecting plants with complementary height and spread will create a harmonious and well-balanced landscape.

Seasonal Interest

Choose companion plants that offer different seasonal interest to ensure your landscape looks attractive throughout the year. For example, you can plant bulbs or perennials that bloom in the spring, annuals for summer color, and ornamental grasses for fall interest.

Pollinators And Beneficial Insects

Including plants that attract pollinators and beneficial insects can help promote a healthy ecosystem in your front yard. Bees, butterflies, and other pollinators play a crucial role in plant reproduction, and attracting them can also add beauty and liveliness to your landscape. Consider planting native flowers, such as coneflowers, bee balm, or butterfly bushes, to create a pollinator-friendly environment.

Foliage And Texture

To add visual interest and variety, choose plants with different foliage colors and textures. Combining plants with contrasting foliage, such as broad-leafed shrubs with fine-textured grasses, can create a visually stunning and diverse landscape.

Companion Plant Suggestions

Here are a few companion plant suggestions that work well with various types of shrubs:

  1. For Evergreen Shrubs: Pair them with low-growing groundcovers like creeping phlox or vinca minor. The vibrant flowers of the groundcovers will beautifully contrast with the evergreen foliage of the shrubs.
  2. For Flowering Shrubs: Consider planting bulbs, such as daffodils or tulips, around the base of the shrubs. When the shrubs are not in bloom, the bulbs will provide an additional burst of color.
  3. For Ornamental Grasses: Combining ornamental grasses with shrubs creates a dynamic and textured landscape. Consider planting miscanthus or pampas grass near your shrubs for an eye-catching display.

Remember to consider the specific growing requirements of both your shrubs and companion plants to ensure they can coexist harmoniously and thrive together.

Troubleshooting Common Issues During Shrub Planting

While shrubs can be relatively easy to plant and maintain, they can still face some challenges during the planting process. Here are a few common issues you may encounter and how to troubleshoot them:

Transplant Shock

Transplant shock can occur when shrubs are not properly acclimated to their new environment. Symptoms may include wilted leaves, leaf drop, or stunted growth. To minimize transplant shock:

  1. Prepare the soil: Ensure the soil is well-drained and amended with organic matter before planting.
  2. Dig the hole: Dig a hole that is wider and no deeper than the root ball. Avoid disturbing the roots as much as possible.
  3. Water thoroughly: Water the shrub immediately after planting and provide regular irrigation during the establishment period.

Improper Planting Depth

Planting shrubs too deeply or too shallowly can lead to root suffocation or inadequate anchoring, respectively. To ensure the proper planting depth:

  1. Measure the root ball: Measure the height of the root ball and dig a hole that is 2-3 times wider.
  2. Position the shrub: Place the shrub in the hole, making sure the top of the root ball is level with or slightly above the soil surface.
  3. Backfill and water: Backfill the hole with soil, firming it gently around the roots. Water thoroughly to eliminate air pockets.

Insufficient Or Excessive Watering

Finding the right balance of watering is crucial for the health of your shrubs. Overwatering can lead to root rot, while under watering can result in stress and wilting. Follow these watering guidelines:

  1. Establishment period: During the first year after planting, water your shrubs deeply and regularly, especially in hot and dry weather.
  2. Mature shrubs: Once established, most shrubs can withstand periods of drought. Water them deeply and less frequently to encourage deep root growth.

Poor Soil Drainage

Shrubs prefer well-drained soil, and excessive moisture can lead to root rot and other issues. If you have poor soil drainage, you can improve it by:

  1. Amending the soil: Incorporate organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, into the soil to improve its structure and drainage.
  2. Creating raised beds: If the soil drainage is consistently poor, consider planting your shrubs in raised beds filled with well-draining soil.

Lack Of Sunlight

Most shrubs thrive in full or partial sunlight. If your shrubs are not receiving adequate sunlight, they may have stunted growth, sparse foliage, or reduced flowering. To resolve this issue:

  1. Evaluate the site: Observe the area where you intend to plant your shrubs to ensure it receives the necessary sunlight.
  2. Choose shade-tolerant shrubs: If your front yard has limited sunlight, opt for shrubs that are specifically adapted to shade or partial shade conditions.

By addressing these common issues during the shrub planting process, you can increase the chances of successful establishment and growth.

Conclusion

Planting shrubs in front of your house is a rewarding and enjoyable venture. By following the guidelines outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can ensure a successful planting process and maintain healthy, vibrant shrubs throughout the seasons. Remember to choose the right shrubs for your site, proactively address pests and diseases, provide proper maintenance, select complementary companion plants, and troubleshoot common issues that may arise. With proper care and attention, your front yard will be transformed into a beautiful oasis that enhances the overall appeal of your house.

FAQS

What Is The Best Time To Plant Shrubs In Front Of A House?

The best time to plant shrubs in front of a house is during the spring or fall when the weather is cooler and there is ample moisture in the soil. This allows the shrubs to establish their root systems before the harsh temperatures of summer or winter.

How Do I Choose The Right Shrubs For My Front Yard?

Before selecting shrubs for your front yard, consider factors such as your local climate, sun exposure, and soil type. Also, take into account the mature size and growth rate of the shrubs to ensure they will not outgrow their space.

What Is The Proper Spacing For Shrubs In Front Of A House?

The general rule of thumb for shrub spacing is to leave enough room for the shrubs to reach their mature size without overcrowding or overlapping. This can vary depending on the type of shrub, so it is best to research the specific spacing requirements for the shrubs you have chosen.

What Type Of Soil Is Best For Planting Shrubs In Front Of A House?

Most shrubs thrive in well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. If your front yard has poor soil quality, consider amending it with compost or other organic materials before planting. Additionally, some shrubs may require specific soil pH levels, so it is important to research the needs of your chosen shrubs.

How Do I Properly Care For Newly Planted Shrubs In Front Of My House?

Newly planted shrubs require regular watering to help establish their root systems. It is important to keep the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged. Apply a layer of mulch around the base of the shrubs to help retain moisture and suppress weed growth. Additionally, monitor for any signs of pests or diseases and address them promptly.