Landscaping dilemma: Remove or keep current plants

After moving into our 1940s house, my husband and I had quite a task ahead of us, tackling an overgrown and over-planted landscape. For instance, a row of boxwood shrubs cut an angle across the front yard. Other than reducing the amount of grass to mow, I could think of no reason to keep the unkempt boxwood. Fortunately, my husband agreed and he removed the shrubs. When starting your own landscaping remodel, evaluate what is currently in your landscape. From that evaluation, determine what trees, shrubs, flowers, or other gardening plants should stay where they are, be removed and planted elsewhere, or be removed and tossed.


Trees are beneficial to the environment and beneficial as shade for your house to help keep the house cool in the summer. Those are two good reasons to keep trees. If desired, transplant young trees. Remove trees that are diseased or are growing too close to the house (roots can damage the house foundation). The Arbor Day Foundation article, "Can These Trees Be Saved?," will help you assess the condition of your trees.


Pruning may be the answer for an overgrown shrub. Prune shrubs that extend over a walkway or entry, or that cover a window. Check the Virginia Cooperative Extension's Guide to Successful Pruning, Pruning Shrubs for a pictorial explanation on how to prune shrubs. Relocate healthy shrubs if desired. Removing a healthy, well-maintained shrub is acceptable if the shrub does not fit within your landscaping theme. For instance, a deciduous shrub like hydrangea in perfect condition does not fit a landscaping plan for low maintenance evergreen shrubs. Offer removed shrubs to a neighbor, church, or your local Cooperative Extension Service.

Flowers, vines, and other plants

Perennial plants are easy to relocate after digging up and dividing the root ball. Toss or give away perennials that do not meet the requirements of your landscaping plan. Vines, especially invasive vines like Japanese honeysuckle or English ivy, can overpower a landscape design.

Some plants, like the previously mentioned English ivy, may serve a purpose in the landscape such as erosion control on a hill. If removing the ivy (or other erosion control plant) is part of the landscape design project, be prepared to immediately set out new plants or perform other landscaping measures to control erosion.