How to Plant a Bush


Bushes come in many shapes, sizes and colors for your landscape. Bushes create borders or walls and make great focal points or companion plants. You can grow a bush that produces beautiful blossoms at certain times of the year or one that remains green all year long. Some bushes produce different types of fruits for wildlife. Choose varieties suited to your specific USDA cold hardiness zone for best results.

Step 1

Select locations that provide well-draining soil and at least six hours of sunlight. Space each bush far enough away from other plants or structures to allow for the mature size expected in both width and height.

Step 2

Plan for planting bushes in early spring after the last chance of frost passed. This will allow plenty of time for the root system to develop before cold weather arrives. Obtain the bush the same day of planting when possible, or check the soil and water to keep it moist until planting.

Step 3

Use a mechanized tiller or hand tools to cultivate the selected area at least three times the width of the container holding the bush. Dig a hole in the center the same depth of the rootball or less to allow for settling. The planted bush's height should equal the height it was in the container.

Step 4

Remove the bush from the container to inspect the root system. Loosen any tangled roots, and cut off any damaged roots.

Step 5

Place the bush in the hole carefully by the rootball, not the stem. Spread the roots out and backfill the hole three-quarters full. Fill the hole with water to remove any air trapped in the soil. Finish filling the hole with more dirt after all the water drains.

Step 6

Make a wall or ridge out of the remaining dirt at least 3 inches high and wider than the planting hole to encompass the transplanted bush. This will capture rainfall and make it easier to water the bush. Fill the basin two times a week during the first growing season if rainfall fails to maintain moist soil to a depth of two inches.

Step 7

Mix a water-soluble fertilizer such as 20-20-20 as directed. Fill the basin with the fertilizer water. Add more soil on top of the planted bush after settling if the rootball is exposed. Do not apply additional fertilizer until the following spring.

Step 8

Cover the area around the bush with at least 3 inches of mulch. Keep the area next to the stem of the bush clear.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not add fertilizer or anything else to the hole used for planting the bush, because this could burn the root system.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Rake
  • Mechanized tiller (optional)
  • Knife
  • Pruning shears
  • Water
  • Fertilizer
  • Mulch


  • Purdue University: Planting and Transplanting Landscape Trees and Shrubs
  • Consumer Reports: How to Plant Trees and Shrubs

Who Can Help

  • The United States National Arboretum: USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
  • North Carolina University Cooperative Extension: Planting Techniques for Trees and Shrubs
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Planting and Transplanting Trees and Shrubs
  • Landscape America: Shrubs for the Landscape
Keywords: grow a bush, planting bushes, transplant bush

About this Author

Diane Dilov-Schultheis has been writing professionally since 2000. She is a food and travel writer who also specializes in gaming, satellites, RV repair, gardening, finances and electronics. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and has been published on Yahoo!, the Travel Channel and Intel.