How to Select Bushes & Shrubbery


Gardening requires planning to pair plants with the best possible location in the landscape. It just isn't that easy to pop a plant anywhere into the landscape and have the plant survive to become a stunning ornamental addition to your yard. Bushes and shrubbery work functionally to provide a permanent addition to your property. As a result, these plants tend to cost more at initial purchase. Shrubs and bushes pay the gardener back in a long life span and consistent color. Selecting bushes and shrubbery involves choosing a plant to match the location as well as a shrub that has the most pleasing characteristics.

Step 1

Plan the locations in the landscape that will benefit from the addition of shrubs. Shrubs can stand alone, form hedges or blend beautifully as backdrop plants in a flower garden. Consider adding shrubs as foundation plants around a home or as the focal points in your main gardens.

Step 2

Evaluate sunlight and soil conditions for each chosen location to determine the type of shrub needed for that environment. Full sun locations experience more than 6 hours of direct sun each day. Partial sun gardens feature 4 to 6 hours, and partial shade locations experience 2 to 4 hours per day. Filtered sunlight through tree canopies or areas near structures often indicate a full shade location.

Step 3

Decide on the type of shrub preferred for the location based on individual preferences and level of maintenance. Evergreen bushes or shrubbery that retains foliage throughout the year require very little maintenance. Deciduous shrubs offer flowers and intricate foliage but require annual pruning to keep the plant healthy.

Step 4

Consult the USDA hardiness zone map to determine your planting zone. This map provides information on the tolerance level of plants exposed to the lowest temperatures in your growing region.

Step 5

Visit the garden center or nursery to check out which plants appeal to your requirements. Seek the advice of the growers at the nursery to guide your decisions, including information on the best native plants. Pay particular attention to the mature width and height of each plant to ensure that the proposed growing location accommodates the bush or shrub.

Step 6

Look at the type of foliage for each plant as well as the type, size and color of blooms. Also consider the annual blooming time of the shrub to blend this possible new addition into the existing landscape. Visit the link in the Resource section for information about different shrubs.

Step 7

Make your final decision on the bush or shrub and take a soil sample to the local cooperative extension or nursery. The results of the soil analysis will provide guidance on the quality of the soil in the proposed planting site.

Things You'll Need

  • USDA Hardiness zone map
  • Notepad
  • Pen
  • Shrub Selector Guide


  • University of Minnesota: Choosing Landscape Evergreens
  • Iowa State University: Selecting Shrubs for the Home Landscape
  • University of Missouri: Selecting Landscape Plants: Deciduous Shrubs

Who Can Help

  • USDA Hardiness Zone Map
  • Shrub Selector
Keywords: shrubs and bushes, selecting bushes, selecting shrubbery

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various sites, including Helium, eHow and Xomba. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.