Please Don’t Plant That There! Epic Mistakes People Make With Trees and Shrubs

Have a home with a yard? Then you might be pining to plant something to make it lush. Only problem is, many homeowners are at sea in big-box garden centers, selecting species that just won’t thrive—or even survive—in their yards.

To the rescue, we’ve asked some green thumb experts for the biggest mistakes people make planting (and caring for) trees and shrubs. Read up on these bloopers to avoid before you dig in!

Planting hedges

A plain green wall isn’t going to start any conversations, so steer clear of this tired look.

“Ficus hedges are almost as dull as a big expanse of lawn—and their uniformity makes them a weak pick,” says Cassy Aoyagi president of FormLA Landscaping.

Barberry shrubs are another choice tree experts wish you’d avoid.

“They’re easy to grow and give year-round color, but the thorns they produce make them tough to mow around,” explains Chris Lambton, a landscaping expert on “Lawn & Order” and host of “Yard Crashers.”

Planting invasive tree species

We’re looking at you, bamboo. This willowy wonder was imported as an ornamental tree, but some species grow incredibly fast, pushing out local plants and harming the biodiversity of an area.

“Many invasive species sap the resilience of neighboring plants and trees, which can speed fire cycles, make mudslides more deadly, and even change the composition of the soil, making it less hospitable for native plants that would otherwise protect us,” notes Aoyagi.

Planting too much, too close together

Don’t rush it when it comes to trees, urge the pros.

“Everyone wants immediate perfection, but patience really does pay off,” notes Aoyagi. Instead of cramming in a bunch of flowering bushes or young trees in one spot, plant them with space to grow so they’ll be stronger and healthier as they mature.

“Planting things too close together looks good for a year or two, but once the trees get bigger, they’ll fight for light and nutrients,” Lambton says.

The result? A lot of dead leaves and branches—and money down the drain. Instead, save your cash and plant a less ambitious garden.

Planting too close to the house

Planting anything too close to your house is a nightmare in the making, says Lambton.

“Yews and rhododendrons were once typical foundation trees for older homes, but over time they get woody and can grow close—and this brings bugs and moisture inside,” he explains.

The resulting dampness can rot out a home’s siding, and big roots may damage the foundation or basement.

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