The cultivation of shrubs is rather overdone than underdone. The natural habitat of most woody plants includes a ground covering of leaves, forest mold, or herbaceous plants and grass; thus they are protected summer and winter against drought and cold. It is not often possible to reproduce such conditions in a made border; but the tendency should be in that direction. While a certain amount of cultivation at first in a shrub border is desirable, especially in new ground, most shrub borders would benefit by being permanently mulched, or at least by not being dug over too deeply after the roots of the shrubs have become established. The use of ground covers among shrubbery is excellent, and they are especially valuable toward the front of the border. When properly mulched and cared for, shrubbery will seldom need watering after the first year or two, but an occasional good soaking during the drought of summer will not come amiss. It is quite essential, at intervals of every two or three years, that the deciduous shrub borders should be carefully gone over and that the ground around the individual shrubs should be thoroughly loosened wherever it is possible to do so without disturbing the root system. At such times considerable fertilizer consisting of well-rotted manure or a heavy application of bone meal should be applied. No quick-acting fertilizer such as sheep manure, dried blood, or nitrate of soda is desirable. In the successful maintenance of the shrub border the object of supplying fertilizer to that border is not one of forcing growth but one of maintaining normal growth.
In the proper maintenance of a shrub border the crowding and dead wood should be removed each year. It often becomes necessary to transplant to other locations and to rearrange some plants where they are becoming too thick in the border plantation, in order to give the remainder of the plants an opportunity to develop normally. We often see shrub plantations which are "leggy." This can be overcome by a proper pruning each year, consisting of the removal, to a height of twelve or fifteen inches above the ground, of at least one-fourth of the old wood (See Plate No. V). This will encourage new growth from the base of the shrub and, where refined mass effects are desired, this method of pruning will eliminate much of the broken and unkept appearance of many plantations. There are instances in which the extremely old and unkept effect is more to be desired, and this process of pruning cannot be applied.