How to Choose Bushes & Shrubbery


Bushes add to the landscape in a number of ways. Privacy is enhanced with a row of tall thick shrubbery. Unsightly views are screened with hedges. Bushes trimmed as topiaries add an exclamation point to the landscape. A flowering or unusually colored bush acts as the focal point of a front yard. Start your landscaping efforts off right with healthy bushes and shrubbery.

Selecting the Types of Bushes

Step 1

Decide the location of the bushes. Shade-loving shrubbery, like hostas, will not do well in bright sunny areas. Conversely, roses need at least eight hours of sun. Most plants will tolerate a bit more sun and shade than what's optimum, but they won't flourish.

Step 2

Research the hardiness of the shrubbery. It doesn't make sense to plant a shrub that won't survive in zones lower than 7, like hibiscus, if you live in zone 4. There is some leeway. If you live in zone 6, for example, but plan on planting the hibiscus in a sheltered area next to a wall or house, it may do fine. The wall absorbs heat during the day and releases it during the night, keeping the hibiscus warmer.

Step 3

Keep in mind that plant selection should be based on not only cold hardiness but also whether the bush needs a chilling period. Some bushes need to go dormant for several months. If it doesn't get cold for a long enough period of time, they won't do well.

Choosing Shrubbery From the Nursery

Step 1

Look for bushes that have strong stems and bright green leaves. The exception of course would be bushes that are variegated or are supposed to be another color like purple moor grass. In most cases, more than one or two yellow leaves means the plant isn't healthy. New growth at the tips is a good sign.

Step 2

Check the root ball. The roots should reach the bottom of the container but not be matted or tangled. Roots should be in the container. If they are coming out the drainage holes, they'll have to be cut to get the plant out of the container. That weakens the plant.

Step 3

Choose plants that are proportionate to the size container they're in. Small plants in large containers may not have developed a good root system. Or the nursery may have placed them in the larger container prematurely in an effort to charge more money. Plants that are too large for the container are often pot bound.


  • "At Home in the Garden"; Becke Davis; 2001
  • "Backyard Blueprints"; David Stevens; 2002

Who Can Help

  • Practical Garden Shrubs
Keywords: choosing bushes, selecting shrubbery, choosing shrubs

About this Author

Katie Rosehill holds an MBA from Arizona State University. She began her writing career soon after college and has written website content and e-books. Her articles have appeared on, eHow, and GolfLinks. Favorite topics include personal finance - that MBA does come in handy sometimes - weddings and gardening.