McCREARY: Finding the right shrubs to replace a lawn

Looking for shrubs to replace a lawn?

Home gardeners who replace their lawns are looking for savings of one kind or another, but often have difficulty finding a pleasing variety of species that require only minimal maintenance.

So is it worth it to take out the lawn?

Absolutely. You really will save water, time and effort. And if you love to garden, you'll have an opportunity to work with a wide variety of plants in place of a stretch of turf.

Low groundcovers, as described in last month's column, frequently lead the list of favored plants, but the most attractive landscapes combine contrasting heights, shapes, colors and textures.

Here are some easy-care suggestions for medium-size shrubs that partner attractively with low-profile plants.

Shrubs for structure

Medium shrubs 5 to 10 feet tall may seem quite large if you've never grown this size before, but one or more in any front or back yard lends an appealing focal point and helps define space.

You might choose evergreen escallonia or Pacific wax myrtle (Myrica californica) for hedging or a privacy screen and plant a contrasting species nearby.

A purple-leaf barberry (Berberis) makes a good screen also and contributes beautiful color spring through fall on gracefully arching branches. Its thorns discourage traffic, which can be either a positive or negative factor.

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