Shrub Plants: Step-by-Step Guide

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shrub plants

Shrubs plants are of different types and you can use them to cover large areas within a landscape.

Moreover, shrub plants provide the mass needed to anchor a landscape design.

Their large size and shape also work to smooth the transition between taller trees and lower-growing perennials

However, beyond the usual landscape application, you can also have them as food and habitat for birds, pollinators, and caterpillars.

In fall, you can also enjoy the show of bright colors and berries that are the highlight of the season.

Native shrub plants are easy to grow and can also tolerate a wide range of conditions.

Whatever you want to call them, it is safe to say that shrub plants are small, perennial, woody plants maturing less than 15 feet.

Some, however, may be tall and upright, while others are short and squat.

Almost all of them are multi-stemmed, like an evolutionary adaption.

While you can train some of them into a single-stem habit that mimics a tree.

Keep on reading.

Types of Shrub Plants

There are three main types of shrub plants you can have in your landscape:

Deciduous Shrubs tend to drop their leaves in the fall.

You can plant them for seasonal interest, whether it’s flowers, colorful bark, fall foliage, or a combination of all.

Flowering Shrubs can be deciduous or evergreen and some of these bloom before leaves appear.

shrub plants types

While others bloom when the plants are leafed out, like hydrangea.

Moreover, shrubs can bloom at any time, some, like witch hazel and winter jasmine bloom even in the winter season.

Evergreen Shrubs hold onto their leaves throughout the year.

These shrub plants are needled evergreens like yew, as well as some of them, are with flattened prays of tiny scale-like leaves like arborvitae.

And others may have broad leaves like rhododendron.

Choosing Shrub Plants according to Your Landscape

Consider the following five things while planting shrubs for your landscape:


As with any plant you want to maintain over the long term, make sure to consult the U.S Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zone Map.

It is important to note that there is no point in buying shrub plants if you are living in Zone 3 or 4.

The plant tag will help provide the USDA zones.

Keep in mind that there are also microclimates around a home, so a marginally hardy shrub may also succeed in a sheltered location by the house, however, not in a windy site.


Next, consider what you want your shrub plants to accomplish.

One of the biggest considerations may be privacy and there is no beating an upright evergreen shrub.

You may want to have arborvitae to juniper for this reason.

However, the focal point is to choose a shrub with a unique shape, captivating flowers, or other features that make it stand out.

Moreover, there are shrub plants with wildlife value, especially the ones with flowers and berries.


Another thing to consider is the location of the shrub plants and how much light is available, as well as soil drainage.

Do not set your shrub plants up for failure by planting them in an inhospitable spot.

Some are better in hot, sunny locations, while others prefer damp, shady spots.

shrub plants 1

Furthermore, some shrubs are tough enough to take whatever conditions you plant them in.

The plant tag will provide details about the optimal conditions that will grow in.


Some new cultivators you can get today are the ones with multiple features.

These can be:

  • log-lasting flowers
  • peeling bark
  • fall foliage

Some even can have an encore flower that will show later in the season.


Privet used to be a popular, quick-growing hedge, however, homeowners today are tired of shearing the plants continuously.

This is on shrub you may regret planting in your yard.

Consider how much time and effort you are willing to put into the maintenance of your shrub plants.

This will not only include pruning them but also watering them.

Therefore, you can have drought-tolerant plants.

How to Plant Shrubs?

Planting a shrub is like planting a tree, however, it is just a little faster because of the difference in size.

If you are getting them from scratch, make sure to amend the soil with compost and cow manure.

Moreover, dig a hole as deep as the root ball, however, twice as wide.

Add an organic mulch like shredded leaves or wood chips and water generously.

Shrub Plants Care and Maintainance

Even low-maintenance shrubs will need basic care.

Follow the steps below:


You can remove dead, diseased, or broken branches anytime, however, you will need to do major pruning when they are dormant.

Shrubs like lilac and red twig dagwood benefit from pruning, which is periodically removing one-third of the oldest stem to encourage new growth that is more productive or colorful.



It is important to note that even drought-tolerant shrubs will need regular watering during their first year.

It is because they will establish roots and become self-sufficient during this time.

Irrigate slowly and deeply so that the water penetrates to the entire root system.

However, one option is to wind a soaker hose through the shrub bed to gradually water everything at once.


Just like shrubs, shrubs rarely need fertilizing.

A weed-free zone is beneath the shrub and a natural, organic mulch, like shredded leaves, is enough in most cases.

However, if the growth is stunted or yellowed, make sure to test the soil and fertilize it if your plants need it.

The pH might need some adjusting. So, you can and sulfur to acidify the soil, and garden lime to make it more alkaline.

Other Care and Maintainance Tips

Some other factors for the care and maintenance of shrub plants are:

Winter Protection

Some evergreens need protection against drying winter winds, either by wrapping in burlap or spraying with an anti-desiccant.

Moreover, if there are deer or rabbits, fencing or animal repellant spray can help.

Pest Control

Insects and common plant diseases are more of a problem when your plants are under stress.

it can either be due to drought, mechanical injury or just being planted in the wrong spot.

Thus, you can try to keep your shrubs stress-free and inspect them regularly for any sign of trouble.

As with any other plant problem, the earlier you deal with it, the better the things will turn out.

Learn more about Pest Control Dubai here.

Spring Flowering Shrubs

Some of the spring flowering shrubs you can have are:

Lilac: These are intoxicating, fragrance plants. Early, mid, and late-season cultivators extend the bloom time for at least 6 weeks.

While reblooming varieties tend to bloom once in spring and again in summer through fall.

Zones: 3-8 for most, a few hardy to Zone 2
Exposure: Full sun; will tolerate some light shade
Mature size: 5 to 15 feet tall and wide, depending on a variety
Bloom time: Late April to May; again in summer for rebloomers.
Flower colors: Purple, pink, white

Rhododendron and Azalea: Popular for their beautiful spring flowers, a number of varieties are evergreen and you can also enjoy them year-round.

floweirng shrubs

However, their size and shape can vary, from low-growing groundcovers to tall shrubs.

Zones: 5-9
Exposure: Partial to dappled shade
Mature size: 18 inches to 20 feet tall, depending on a variety
Bloom time: Peak bloom usually occurs mid-spring; however, some bloom as early as March, others as late as July.
Flower colors: Shades of pink, white, purple, crimson, and yellow

Forsythia: The vibrant canary color of this plant is like the first ray of sunshine after the dark days of the winter.

Moreover, these cover each arching branch with profusion of blooms, lasting one to two weeks.

Zones: 3-9
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade; flowers best in full sun
Mature size: 1 to 20 feet tall, 3 to 10 feet wide, depending on a variety
Bloom time: Early to mid-spring
Flower colors: Bright yellow

Evergreen Shrubs

Some popular evergreen shrubs you can have are:

Boxwood: One of the best evergreen for shaping and pruning. This is one other best choice for creating formal hedges, borders, and even topiaries.

Zones: 5-9 for most, a few hardy to Zone 4
Exposure: Sun or shade
Mature size: 2 to 4 feet tall and wide for most, some to 8 feet

Arborvitae: Fast-growing, easy-care evergreens. You can plant them as privacy screens and hedges.

Or plant them in a row, their dense foliage will fill in to create a screen in a year or so.

Zones: 2-8, depending on the variety
Exposure: Full sun
Mature size: Varies widely, from low growers at 3 feet tall to large trees in excess of 70 feet.

Azalea and Rhododendron: Azaleas are types of rhododendrons and there are a number of varieties available, both evergreen and deciduous.

Zones: 3-9, depending on the variety
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade, depending on variety and location
Mature size: 1 to 8 feet tall and wide, depending on the variety
Bloom time: Peak bloom is generally mid-spring, some as late as July; reblooming varieties with a second flush in late summer.

Shrub Plants for Privacy

Shrub Plants for privacy are:

Arborvitae: These are coniferous trees or shrubs with green, blue-green, or gold evergreen foliage.

Popular varieties are Polar Gold, or the North Pole which have a pyramidal shape and dense growth habit, making them suitable for privacy hedging.

Zones: 2-9, depending on a variety
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Growth habit: Slender pyramidal or low mounding habit
Height/Spread: 2 to 70 feet tall, 2 to 25 feet wide
Growth rate: Slow to fast; from several inches to 3 to 5 feet per year, depending on the variety

Beautyberry: These moderate-sized deciduous shrubs grow for the attractive purple or white berries that appear in fall.

Green leaves may turn yellow in autumn, thus, providing a stunning complementary backdrop to the fruit.

Moreover, their case of maintenance and disease resistance makes them an appealing hedging plant.

Zones: 5-10, depending on the variety
Exposure: Full sun to part shade; produce more fruit in full sun
Growth habit: Mounding or arching habit
Height/Spread: 3 to 6 feet tall and wide
Growth rate: Medium to fast; 1 to 2 feet per year until reaching mature size

Boxwood: It is one of the shrubs that has been used in formal landscapes to define garden areas or provide privacy.

Their fine texture of evergreen foliage is green, blue-green, or variegates, lending itself to regular shearing.

You can grow a larger variety like ‘Green Mountain’, ‘Green Tower’, or Fastigiatia’ along with the property line or sidewalk or to screen garden areas.

Zones: 5-9, with a few varieties hardy to Zone 4
Exposure: Full sun to shade
Growth habit: Dense upright or mounding habit
Height/Spread: 1 to 20 feet tall, 2 to 8 feet wide, depending on the variety
Growth rate: Slow to medium; average 6 inches per year

Final Thoughts

Shrub plants are woody plants that have a number of main stems. They can either be deciduous, i.e. go dormant and stop their leaves in winter, or evergreen that does not go dormant and keep their leaves through the winter.

Shrubs are different from tress ad have a more rounded shape and thinner stems. You can train a number of them into a tree with a single main stem, and some trees can also be grown in shrub form with multiple trunks.

2 thoughts on “Shrub Plants: Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Pingback: Cherry Blossom Tree: Planting and Caring for Them - AAAK

  2. Pingback: Evergreen Shrubs: 9 Best Perennial Shrubs - Al Ardh Alkhadra

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