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Trees are the backbone of any yard, and the right shrubs provide the grace and detail that set your home apart from its neighbors. If you’re starting with a bare yard, you may want to seek the help of a professional landscaper. But even you do, there are basics to consider if your goal is to achieve maximum eye appeal with minimum upkeep in the years ahead.

When it comes to trees, landscapers say you should know what you want to accomplish:

  • Consider ultimate height and limb spread. Are you looking for a shade tree? A towering sentry? Gently swaying palms?
  • Are you okay with a deciduous tree that drops its leaves each year or do you want an evergreen that keeps its foliage year-round?
  • Consider your climate. Be sure the trees you choose will thrive in salt air, for example, or in a region with little winter rainfall.
  • What about a tree’s growing habits? Is dropping sap a no-go? Can you handle dropping blossoms, or fruit?

Once you’ve answered those questions, visit a nearby tree farm. Talk with staff landscapers about what you want and view a variety of trees. Very likely, once you see what you want, you’ll know it, and you’ll be better prepared to go it on your own or to talk sensibly with your landscaper.

As for shrubs, most yards require a variety of shapes, sizes and colors in order to fill out a landscape. Before you plant, or speak with a landscaper, consider:

  • Size – From ground covers to hedges or flowering bushes, consider how the height, color and growing patterns of the shrubs you choose will add to the look of your landscape.
  • Placement – Slopes can be planted for aesthetics and/or erosion control. Larger shrubs planted near the home can provide for climate control in summer and winter. Small to medium shrubs are the best accent to pools, patios and walkways.
  • Color – Colors are one of the greatest benefits of shrubbery in the home landscape, and there are varieties for every season. Evergreens come in a variety of shades that will give interest to your yard, while flowering shrubs can add the colors of the rainbow.