Landscaping with Trees and Shrubs

You know I talk about the importance of trees quite a bit. I herald the trees for their winter interest and beauty in all four seasons. I discuss them giving the garden structure and forming the bones of the landscape.

A very old, and valuable Beech, you will see the crabapple on the right in an image below. It is not that small a tree.

Using large specimen trees and groupings of trees can be done successfully in smaller gardens as well, but it is most often associated with estate landscaping and public parks. The beech above is a few times larger than my house and property combined.

Shrubs perform many of the same functions as trees and additionally, make a wonderful backdrop for the perennials, annuals and groundcovers. They, like trees, have many flowering varieties themselves.  The pear trees, Redbud and rhododendron shown above, are all such plants. Even the pygmy barberry hedge provides a punch of color and interest.

This shrub bed has rhododendron, spiraea and groundcover roses which span the seasons in soft pink color. White weeping crabapple anchor the identical beds as seen below.

Natural stone walls and paving accent the space. Above this area is a grass terrace.

Here, juniper and boxwood frame the formal island bed and the center section is filled with Apple Blossom groundcover rose, but is yet to bloom for Spring. This is a rectangular, brick drive.

Weigela, here, is backed by a variety of trees. Layering of the trees and shrubs along the property line affords privacy, and a changing of seasonal interest.

This scene is quite beautiful as the long brick, ivy edged driveway is double lined with Iceberg roses and wave petunia. The tall trees ground the garden and give it presence.

And who does not like the fragrance of lilac in Spring? You can see they are strategically placed at a seating area and are paired with Daylily and a variety of other perennials. One got away above! This is another property line application with large spruce trees lending privacy.

The conifers make a great backdrop for the understory trees like this Crabapple, needing lots of sun.

Another view of the roses where the white planting brightens the drive in. This all white planting was done for a large outdoor wedding. Trees, trees and more trees.

A view of the view, framed by trees. The garden beds below are all informal plantings of grasses, a variety of shrubs and perennials. Roses are off to the right.

Geometry is fun to play with when designing, especially when the garden is seen from third floor windows.

And don’t forget taller hedges. Juniper really soften this area and are backed by spruce and some deciduous varieties. On large landscapes, it is all about layering.

The willow is a tree planted between two of the properties shown and I did designs on both properties. The one neighbor wanted the tree removed and the other, whose tree it belonged, did not. I did not either. So the tree stayed. A total of four properties are shown.

None of these images were taken for the sake of photography. All were quickly snapped on job sites.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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23 Responses to Landscaping with Trees and Shrubs

  1. This is so inspirational!

  2. andrea says:

    I am so engrossed with the beauty of all the trees and shrubs, I am awed at the serenity they bring. I specifically love those white almost creeping bush and of course the willow, which we also don’t have. How do you visualize a garden with mostly green and white flowers? I just like to hear what an authority on design and landscaping will say about that. I am still engrossed and then i laughed at the end, when you suddenly produced a disclaimer about the photos. hahaha! A good photographer normally produces good ones even as snapshots! I actually love all of them, the angles, etc. Hey Donna, i made a new blog Pure Oxygen Generators! It correlates with this post.…Andrea

  3. Very impressive properties. Those rhododendrons are very impressive and I do love the Redbuds, Weigela and lilacs. I need to add some conifers to my garden for winter interest and wildlife but they are just not a favorite of mine. I struggle trying to pick any that I really love and want to see everyday in my garden. I have come to like the Diadora Cedars but other than that I am at a loss.

  4. I am so glad you are posting some of your design work. It is beautiful. I love the willow too.

  5. AngryRedhead says:

    I wish I had an enormous weeping willow, but they’re pretty hard to grow here although I have seen a couple amazing specimens. However, I’m probably more of a shrub girl – there are SO many shrubs that I want to grow but just don’t have the room for them all. My neighbor next door is a tree fanatic like you. It’s interesting to see which groups of plants attract people. The trees, the shrubs, or the perennials/annuals?

  6. b-a-g says:

    Donna – So this is what you do when you’re not blogging …. Were the creepers on the house and the mature rhodendendrons imported in ?

    • These pink Rhodies were there for as long as this house was built, along with the mortared wall, but we added quite a number more out front that were not much smaller. We repaired and repointed the wall also. Mature specimens were brought in most cases. The problem planting on big properties is that the trees and shrubs that most people buy at nurseries are much too small to install on large properties, and more mature specimens are used. The other house had the ivy installed. The garage and orangery to the left was new construction and it did not take the ivy long to cover the surface of the garage.

  7. That beech is amazing! And you didn’t need to add the disclaimer about your photos, in my opinion. They are more than adequate.

  8. pbmgarden says:

    You have accomplished such serenity in these gardens. Very lovely.

  9. I see so many houses here with rotten, poorly maintained shrubs that were installed by the builder. The owners don’t seem to know what to do with them, so they either ignore them, or chop them into bizarre geometric shapes. I love seeing a landscape with layers of beautiful, well placed trees, shrubs, and perennials but rarely do. Shrubs and trees were the first element I added to my garden and then I branched out, literally! :o) Great post and beautiful designs!

  10. I agree with the others that this is very inspirational. I’m a huge fan of Willow trees, even though I’d never have room for them on my lot. Great post!

  11. What a fantastic property. You inspired me. Thank you.

  12. Donna your design work is always one of my fav posts…these huge properties and the use of majestic trees and shrubs is both beautiful and inspiring…you are a gifted artist in so many mediums!

  13. Love this sort of post about landscaping when you show such good examples. Right now my landscaping is driving me nuts. I seem to do very well designing for others but can never be satisfied with my own yard. Trees are so important and I’ve added some cherries of different varieties. Very much enjoyed this post Donna.

    I’m thankful to be listed on your sidebar and wanted you to know my url has changed to

  14. Town Mouse says:

    Amazing how different climates result in a completely different garden aesthetic. Beautiful trees, beautiful pictures…

  15. Indie says:

    Such nice plantings. I love how the shrubs are layered. I wish we had a larger property to grow more trees on, especially as that is the one interest of the garden that my husband has. He keeps wanting me to buy more trees, and of course all the ones that he wants to buy will grow into enormous hulks!

  16. Jennifer says:

    Hi Donna, All four properties beautifully illustrate that good design and great bones makes all the difference. Though it is lots of hard work, I bet you must love your job.

  17. Bom says:

    I wish I had more space for trees AND a garden terrace. Those are all beautiful properties. Thanks for sharing them and inspiring us.

  18. Marguerite says:

    I can’t imagine anyone wanting that willow removed. What a gorgeous specimen it is. Love the tree and shrub posts, they really are so important to a garden and easily overlooked in favour of colourful perennials.

  19. Sartenada says:

    I was inspired by Your beautiful photos. Especially I love Rhododendrons. In our small flower garden we have pink and white Rhododendrons. Great post.

  20. deborahelliott says:

    I knew I was going to enjoy this post as soon as I saw its title! It is as good as a magazine read. You know I love trees and shrubs, and I also love big old estate homes!The South has a lot of gorgeous properties like that (mine is not one of them!) and I always enjoy a peek.

  21. GirlSprout says:

    I love lilacs and redbuds. Unfortunately, redbud trees don’t like me. They need to babied here and I have a tree that grew into a bush. They’re are still one of my favorite harbingers of spring. Great informational post!

  22. Sheds says:

    Fantastic pictures, fantastic design you must love your work!

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