Too Many Shrubs at the Drive-Thru

Valentine shrubs

The other evening, my husband and I got away for a few hours to go and see a movie.  On our way, we stopped by for dinner at El Pollo Loco.

As we were leaving, I looked toward the drive-thru and saw numerous Valentine shrubs.

Valentine shrubs

As you can see, the shrubs are planted very closely together, so they do not have room to grow to their natural size.

So, landscapers come in and prune away the attractive natural shape of these shrubs along with their colorful, winter flowers.

The problem with this area is over planting.

Valentine shrubs

You can really see it on the other side of the drive-thru lane.

Often, landscape architects and designers add more plants then needed because when first planted, plants look scrawny and small.  Not necessarily something their client wants to see.  They want immediate impact from plants.

But, just 2 years later, you have unattractive green blobs because there just isn’t enough room for them to grow and they require frequent visits from the landscaper.

So, what can be done?  Well, if I were managing this property – I would pull out every other shrub in order to allow the remaining shrubs more room to grow.

Valentine shrubs

This not only will create a more attractive landscape, but one that requires less maintenance, thereby saving money.

Valentine shrubs need to be pruned once a year in May.

That’s it!

Prune them back to 1 – 2 ft. wide and tall and you are done for the year.

Valentine shrubs

For more information on Valentine shrubs and why they are one of my favorite plants read:

“Flowers for Christmas and Valentine’s Day”

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."
5 replies
  1. Colleen
    Colleen says:

    Another pruning problem!

    #1 – I love El Pollo Loco. Great deal. Great food. (And I'm really not a fast food eater!)

    #2 – Thanks for sharing these beautiful bushes. They are much prettier in their "natural" form.

  2. Mary
    Mary says:

    I never noticed all the landscaping monstrosities in the valley until I started reading this blog. Now I just drive around the city thinking, "What the heck?" Drive down Guadalupe Rd in the city of Guadalupe and you'll have a laugh at some of the bushes there.

  3. Ian
    Ian says:

    Nice to see that one of our Australian Natives does so well in your location, although here its common name is spotted emu bush (red form) and yes it is much better only with a light prune to retain the natural shape.

  4. David Cristiani
    David Cristiani says:

    Great points on removing every-other one. I've asked some of my "colleagues" why they do that a few times, and they just don't get it or have a trite reply often including a "you know —" thrown in. Problem is that I *do* know.

    We will get through to this, and I think in our lifetimes!

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