Commercial property owners have a huge problem right in front of their eyes yet they don’t even see it.  Overgrown shrubs block the windows, crowd the walkways, cause complaints and create security issues. With a few simple strategies, you can greatly improve the appearance and functionality of almost any kind of property.

Here are 6 of our favorite shrubs for Chicago commercial landscaping projects:


1. Viburnums

chicago viburnum landscape

They range from expensive specimen plants with great fragrances to fast growing hedges that bloom. They provide the most  ‘environmental services’ of any plant out there. This means they have berries and flowers to provide food for the local birds and pollinators. They are native to Illinois and are rabbit resistant. The dense branching is perfect for birds’ nests. Oh, and they can grow in shade. But that’s not all, the best service they provide is as an alternative to the hated Buckthorn hedge that has invaded the entire Chicagoland region. Hands down: Viburnums are my favorite plant.


2. Chokeberries

chokeberries chicago landscape

Chokeberries are next on the list. They have berries, provide all season interest AND they can grow in the shade. Chokeberries bloom in the spring, are green in the summer, have great fall color, and hold their berries into the winter. Use the Chokeberry to replace the overgrown Burning Bushes that are everywhere. The Burning Bushes are now considered invasive and they out grow their space very quickly.

3. Boxwood


I use Boxwoods to replace the overgrown Yews that are covering up the front window or blocking the doorway. The Boxwood is a smaller evergreen and doesn’t grow nearly as fast as the Yew. It saves on maintenance down the road and client complaints about overgrown shrubs are greatly reduced. One caveat; they do not do well with salt or dogs so do not plant them by a sidewalk or curb.

4. Any Hydrangea Paniculata


Hydrangea Paniculata grow quickly in part shade and work individually or in groups to provide screening. The flowers are as showy as any plant there is. The best part is that they provide habitat for a multitude of birds which brings an extra element into the garden. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Annabelle Hydrangea. While it is not of the Paniculata variety, it performs very well in the right spot.

5. Red and Yellow-twig Dogwoods


They are versatile, inexpensive and native to the region. You can use them in most settings and they provide winter interest with their bark. They are a maintenance issue down the road but it’s nothing a good dormant prune won’t solve.

 6. Itea


Ita is a low growing shrub that can live in both sun and shade. Its spring flowers and fall color make this shrub a winner. Add it’s resistance to rabbits and you get a shrub that can work in any garden. I use it to replace the notorious Cotoneasters; which I refer to as the garbage collector due to all the junk they catch in their branches. The cost of replacement is recouped quickly due to the reduction in maintenance.

Those are 6 of my favorites for Chicago commercial landscaping projects.  What are some of your favorites?