Chinook Landscaping and Design – Landscaping Calgary Specialists
Calgary, Alberta
Mon-Fri 8:00 AM- 5:00 PM.
30 Apr 2019
long stem with colourful blooming purple flowers on top

Best shrubs for Calgary

Choosing the best shrubs for landscaping in Calgary is important.  What is a shrub?  Shrubs retain their woody stems throughout the year unlike perennial plants.  Before we talk about the best shrubs for Calgary we should first explain the difference between a shrub and other perennials plantings.  As you probably know, perennial plants die from the soil up so in spring you are left with nothing above the soil but dead plant growth.  Shrubs lose their leaves but their woody stems are still alive in most cases and will grow new leaves in the spring. If you are unsure about whether your shrub stems or stalks are alive try this easy tip.  Simply take your finger nail and gently scratch off a little of the stems bark or outer layer. If you see green under the bark then the stem is alive and you are will see new growth once spring and summer arrive.

There are a number of great shrubs for Calgary and some of these shrubs include shrubs that are native to Alberta and are therefore a great choice.  There are some beautiful shrubs at your local garden centre but Choosing the right shrub  means you need to be cautious and selective in order to choose a shrub that will survive in our climate. Here are some of Chinook landscaping’s favourite shrubs.

Cherry bomb barberry are the bomb

bright burgundy red globe shaped shrub
Beautiful cherry bomb barberry shrub

The Cherry bomb barberry shrub is one of the best shrubs for Calgary.  Cherry bomb barberry shrubs are a vibrant, burgundy red shrub that has a distinctive look because they maintain a uniform globe shape.  Cherry bomb barberry have an inviting welcoming colour but they have sharp thorns, hence the name barberry.  We use Barberry in groupings and they seem to look better in groups of three. If you have issues with the neighbours dog leaving deposits on your garden bed then a barberry is a great choice. The thorns will definitely encourage dogs and even rabbits to go elsewhere. Cherry bomb barberry are very hardy and can endure Calgary’s harsh freeze and thaw climate.  Other barberry shrubs include Rose glow barberry but they do not retain an attractive globe shape and require more maintenance.

Dwarf Korean Lilac provide perfume for your garden

long stem with colourful blooming purple flowers on top
This is a picture of one of the best shrubs for Calgary, a top grafted dwarf Korean Lilac

The Dwarf Korean lilac is a fantastic choice for a best shrub in Calgary.  Dwarf Korean Lilacs have a beautiful shape and pink to purple blossoms in spring time.  You can get Dwarf Korean lilacs in shrub form or top grafted form.  The top grafted form is a bold and wonderful way to add an anchor shrub to your landscaping in Calgary. This shrubs is very hardy and does well in full to part sun locations.  Along with the vibrant spring flowers comes a warm and subtle scent that invites guests to your home with a sweet spring perfume.  For the best affect, use a top grafted dwarf Korean lilac in areas where an anchor shrub is needed.  These areas include right beside walkways or in corners of your garden beds. Another popular dwarf lilac is the Miss Kim.  Miss Kims are more erratic in their growing patters and will require constant pruning.

Spirea’s are spectacular!

big white blooming flowers cascading downward to the ground
Bridlewreath spirea with beautiful blossoms

Spirea’s are probably one of the most common shrubs you will see in Calgary garden beds.  There are many different varieties of spirea in Calgary.  Some of these include Gold flame, Little princess, Bridlewreath, False spirea and many more.  Spirea are some of the hardiest shrubs you can grow in Calgary.  On our list of best shrubs to grow in Calgary, this is at the top of our list.  Spirea’s not only have great spring colour with their lovely blossoms but they also have great foliage colour.  The birchleaf spirea and bridalwreath spirea are two of our most popular shrubs.  Spirea’s can endure Calgary’s ever changing climate and or somewhat drought tolerant so they can survive when they aren’t pampered. Check out our Calgary shrubs page for more great shrubs that will look great in your Calgary garden.  Spirea come in many different sizes including compact and dwarf.  They are an ideal shrub when you want more than just spring blossom colour because of the many varieties that have vibrant bright foliage colour from spring until fall.

Ninebark makes a nice screening shrub

Bright yellow leaves on a tall bushy shrub
Gold Ninebark

The ninebark shrubs is one of the best shrubs for Calgary if you want a taller anchor shrub or screening around your yard. Ninebark  shrubs are typically a tall growing shrub that can reach heights of 8 feet.  They prune easily in spring and fall so if you want, you can maintain a ninebark shrub at a height of 4-5 feet.  A wonderful shrub that provides colour and texture to your landscape, the Ninebark is extremely hardy and grows very well in Calgary’s climate.  Ninebark varieties include Summer wine, Coppertina and Dart’s Gold ninebark.  Known for its
sharp multi pointed, tree like leaves ninebark are the perfect shrub to fill in those larger empty spaces around your garden beds.  It is important to plan for mature growth when choosing where to plant your Ninebark.  Do not overcrowd them by planting them too close to trees or other plantings.   Once established ninebark will not require a lot of watering so they can be a good choice for xeriscaping your yard in Calgary  Ninebark shrubs come with an added bonus of spring blossoms.  You will not see blossoms or flowers on all Ninebarks however.

Curious about best planting habits for trees and shrubs?  Check out our planting trees and shrubs page




04 Apr 2019

Chinook Landscaping app now on Apple App store!

Chinook landscaping and design is excited to introduce our first landscaping Calgary app.  It is ready for you to download to your iPhone now at the Apple app store.

Chinook Landscaping created this app to:


Estimate your landscaping materials.

Quickly and easily estimate the amount of material you will need for your landscaping project.  Calculate soil for garden beds, crushed gravel for hardscaping areas, mulch or decorative stone for garden bed toppings or decorative rock for around your yard.  The material calculator gives you accurate materials required in just a few seconds>

Pics for Landscaping ideas

Our new Chinook Landscaping app features all of the landscaping creations we have done in the past several years.  Click on the photos page to view pictures of patios and walkways, paving stones  and more hardscaping projects.  You can also view photos of garden bed edging
Water features, garden bed designs, fire pits and planters

Tree and shrub guide.

Many Calgary homeowners are not sure of what kinds of trees and shrubs to plant in their front and back yards. Use this part of the app when planting trees and shrubs. Scroll through the pictures to view many photos of trees and shrubs that grow well in Calgary.
The pictures include captions with the shrub or tree name so you can easily identify the type of shrub or tree you are viewing.

Fast estimate request feature

See a landscaping picture you like?  Or a tree or shrub you would like planted?  You can contact us very quickly via our Chinook Landscaping app by simple clicking on request estimate.  We receive the estimates quickly and we will respond fast to your estimate request.

Download the app here :   Chinook Landscaping app 


24 Mar 2019

Pruning Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass

Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass are a very attractive ornamental grass that grows very well in Calgary.  Pruning Karl foerster feather reed grass should be left until late spring.  The dead stalks are attractive and add interest to your landscape if left over winter time.  Karl foerster are very easy to prune, much easier in fact than most other shrubs.

How to prune a Karl Foerster

As we mentioned earlier it is best to leave your Karl foerster un pruned until late spring.  This will preserve the beautiful stalks over winter.  Pruning a Karl foerster feather reed grass is quick and easy and can be made even easier if you use a bunny cord or rope.  Simply tie the cord around the base of the Karl Foerster and then trim below it.  We recommend trimming about 6 inches up from the base of the grass.  When you are finished you should be left with a tidy bundle of stalks.  Discard these stalks in your composting bin and you are done.

There are many other ornamental grasses that are ideal for Calgary’s climate.  To learn more about ornamental grasses visit Ornamental grasses ideal for Canadian Climates

Find out why we are landscaping Calgary specialists.  Give us a call to discuss your landscaping project.

Ph: 403-452-8552

18 Mar 2019

Ornamental Grasses ideal for Canadian Climates


Ornamental grasses are a beautiful way to add a soft, natural look to almost any landscape.  Ornamental grasses are ideal for Canadian climates.  There are many popular grasses that grow well in Canada and Calgary’s climate.  The great thing about these grasses is they are extremely hardy and so the chance of winter kill is very rare.  Grasses are also drought tolerant and need far less moisture than most other shrubs and perennials.  Ornamental grasses are also very low maintenance.  Here are some ornamental grasses ideal for Canadian climates.

Karl foerster reed grass

Karl foerster reed grass is the most popular ornamental grass we plant in Calgary.  It is very drought tolerant and low maintenance.  The Karl foerster provides great colour year round.  They have beautiful seed heads that can be left on during the winter to provide lovely fall and winter colour.  Once spring arrives you can simply cut them back in spring and wait for the new growth to appear.  Karl foerster can grow to over 6 feet in some cases and look best when planted in groups of odd numbers.  For photos of Karl Foerster reed grass visit  shrubs Calgary  

Watch our video on Pruning your Karl Foerster feather reed grass


Avalanche reed grass and overdam reed grass. 

If you are looking for a little more colour and variation in your ornamental grass, you can consider avalanche reed grass and overdam reed grass.  The blades on these grasses are variegated meaning they have a mix of green and cream white.  These grasses are also very rough tolerant and in some cases can be left throughout the summer with little or no tap watering required.  Both the avalanche reed grass and the
overdam reed grass will not grow as tall as Karl Forester but will grow to a similar width.  Like other ornamental grasses, they look best in groupings.  We prefer to group them in odd numbers of three or five plants.

Blue Oat grass

Blue oat grass is one of our favourite ornamental grasses ideal for Canadian climates.  Blue oat grass has a rich grey blue colour that compliments any garden bed.  They are a lower, mound growing form of ornamental grass that look great in a modern or traditional landscape.  We often use them in a modern landscaping Calgary project as they give a feel of modern Palm springs or Palm desert homes.  From a distance, they can be mistaken for a type of dessert cactus that is popular in gardens throughout the Phoenix and Palm spring areas. Blue oat grass are super hardy and super tough early handling our Calgary winters.  Their blades can be left on in the winter to provide winter interest in your landscaping.  Like the Karl Forester it is best to prune the dead growth back once spring arrives.

Fescue grass

Fescue ornamental grass is a dwarf ornamental grass that is much smaller than the grasses mentioned earlier.  Fescue grass looks great bordering garden beds when placed in the front.  Fescue requires very little water throughout the summer and they are very low maintenance.  These grasses are often used more as ground cover rather than as feature plantings.   Fescue grasses come in different colours and add great highlights to your low maintenance landscaping  If you are planning on including fescue grass for your landscaping project please remember that they can tend to seed easily.  This means they can take root in other areas of your garden bed and will eventually need to be thinned out.