Knowing When It’s Time to Remodel

Do shrubs have productive life expectancies in our landscapes? Why doesn’t new sod take root and grow? Maybe it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Let me share a couple of quick lessons I’ve learned.

As for the productive life expectancies of shrubs…
While shade trees, properly chosen and cared for, can live for 100 years or more (as noted in another question this issue), shrubs won’t last that long. They do wear out their welcomes, particularly if you’re pruning them repeatedly to keep them in bounds. You’ll see stubby, little shrubs with oversized and unsightly trunks.

Row of Texas sage in commercial landscape has been pruned about 25 times too often. It’s doubtful that these weak plants can be saved. Time to remodel. While they’re at it, hopefully they’ll choose a more shade-tolerant shrub.

It’s tough to bring yourself to remove shrubs that have been in place for 20 or 25 years. One of the most refreshing rewards, however, is how great the new planting looks once you do make that move.

Grass thinning and overgrown shrubs are indicators that it’s time to remodel.

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So it’s with that in mind that I always encourage people, rather than trying to salvage the old, tired team of plants that has already given you everything that it has, to consider a new garden design and a new batch of stars.

With grass removed and soil improvement achieved, walk can be put in place.

This is the final product two years after the plantings were made.

And then as to the sod…
People don’t understand why grass won’t grow where it used to succeed. In the majority of cases it’s because their trees have grown larger and are now casting so much shade that the new grass just can’t get over the hurdles of (a) shade and (b) being transplanted.

Buying more St. Augustine to plant in the increasing shade in this part of our landscape wasn’t going to help at all. It was time for a big change.

Soon after the walk was in place and most of the plantings had been made, the landscape was looking better already.

I finally took the chance…
I faced that same issue in our landscape 8 or 10 years ago, so I made the change from shade-tolerant (but not shade-proof) St. Augustine to shrubs and groundcovers that could have complete shade. And those plants have never looked back.

So with all that in mind, maybe this is the year you need to be planning for that big landscape remodel. This is the ideal time to work with your landscape designer to start making your plans.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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