When planning your landscaping project, it’s important to keep in mind the life spans of the plants you choose. You will need to budget and make a plan to replace certain plants according to their expected life spans, so consider future needs when choosing and placing your plants.

The life span of most small trees and shrubs is about 7 to 10 years. With proper maintenance, many of them can live a bit longer than this. Still, it’s good to keep this rule of thumb in mind: For about the first five years small trees and shrubs will grow to fill in their assigned areas. After ten years, most will begin to decline. These plants will require heavy pruning in order to keep them going, and to prevent them from overgrowing and crowding nearby plants.

Factors that can affect life spans include:

  • Changing weather patterns – as we’ve seen this year, droughts can occur and do affect our landscaping. We can also see fluctuations in average temperatures or other unpredictable weather trends.
  • Location – Are you urban or rural? Pollution can affect plant life spans.
  • Soil quality – Poor soil is obviously going to lead to a shorter life span. Amending the soil before you plant, and maintaining it with regular fertilization, will help extend the life of your shrubs and small trees.
  • Pests – In some years we see more pest problems than in other years. Various diseases such as molds and mildews also affect our plants. Protecting them from harm will help prolong their lives.
  • Irrigation – Too much or too little water affects how well plants grow and thrive.
  • Fertilization – Fertilizing your soil correctly can help plants stay healthy. However, over-fertilizing can have the opposite effect. Always do your research or consult with a professional landscaping expert if you aren’t sure when or how often to fertilize.

Most importantly, consult with a professional about the expected life span of any trees or shrubs you consider for your landscaping project. Make sure your expectations match up with reality, so that you’ll be satisfied with your landscaping and the care that it requires.

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