Photo: Loren Kerns (flickr)
Shrubs are useful for many functions and an important one is screening. If you have an eyesore such as a junk pile or a composting area that you would like to hide, start to look in books and catalogs and online for shrubs you could use to hide the eyesore.
You could group the shrubs or use them as a hedge or even pile up the soil to create a small hill (called a berm) to increase the height of the shrub plantings.
You may want to use all evergreen shrubs for complete year-round screening or a mix of evergreen and deciduous shrubs for partial screening during the winter. If you have deer, remember to use spruce and juniper instead of yews because the deer eat the yews. Also check the deer resistance of the deciduous shrubs you are considering.
Be very careful about potential height and width when the shrubs mature, and space them accordingly. Look for foliage interest as well as sequence of bloom so that there are color and textural interest all year.
Remember the principle of repetition. For example, to screen a chain link fence, alternate groupings of some spring-, summer-, and fall-blooming shrubs rather than just one of a lot of different shrubs all lined up like soldiers.
New cultivars of shrubs, such as Rose of Sharon, are sterile and won’t self seed, which is a real bonus.