How to Plant Small Shrubs


Small shrubs, those less than 3 feet tall, can be used for borders, under trees or as foundation plants near the house. Small shrubs can be deciduous varieties like cotoneaster or dwarf fothergilla or evergreen varieties like bearberry or creeping juniper. The same planting technique used for any size shrub can be used to plant small shrubs. Early spring or late fall is the best time to plant.

Step 1

Choose a well-drained location where the sun exposure meets the requirements of the variety of shrub to be planted, like full sun or part sun.

Step 2

Dig the hole twice as wide as the root ball or container. The depth of the hole should match the height of the root ball or container. The dirt at the top of the root ball or container needs to be at ground level when planted.

Step 3

Amend the removed soil with 25 percent organic matter, like compost or leaf mold, if desired. The inclusion of organic matter can help fertilize the shrub and can aid root penetration, particularly in heavy clay soil

Step 4

Remove the shrub from the container; leave the ball-and-burlap shrub wrapped. Place the shrub in the center of the hole with the best side of the shrub facing forward.

Step 5

Backfill the hole halfway and then water around the shrub to settle the soil. Pull the burlap wrap down to expose the top half of the root ball. Finish backfilling the hole and water again.

Step 6

Apply 2 to 3 inches of mulch, like leaf mold or wood chips, around the shrub to cover the disturbed soil. Keep the mulch about 3 inches away from the stem of the shrub.

Step 7

Water every seven to 10 days during the first year if there is no rainfall.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Organic matter (optional)
  • Mulch


  • Purdue University Extension: Planting Trees and Shrubs
  • North Carolina State University Extension: The Planting Hole
  • Virginia Tech Extension: Shrubs: Functions, Planting, and Maintenance
Keywords: shrub, planting shrubs, evergreen

About this Author

Barbara Raskauskas is a certified e-learning specialist and certified Microsoft Office specialist. She has written web content, technical documents and course material for a decade. Raskauskas now writes how-to's, product reviews and general topics published on several websites, including Demand Studios.