Garden shrubs can be planted either as ornamental specimen trees, or as border or privacy shrubs or hedges. Many plants are suitable for use as garden shrubs. The best one for your yard will depend on where it will fit in your landscape and the climate zone where you will plant the shrub. A shrub can be a main specimen in the garden, or an anchor piece to grow smaller ornamental plants and flowers around.
Rhododendrons are flowering shrubs that grow well in USDA hardiness zones 6B through 10A, depending on the variety. Rhododendron shrubs can grow to a height of 8 to 12 feet, with a spread of 6 to 10 feet. They do best in partial sun or partial shade and prefer an acidic soil that is primarily clay, loam or sand. Azaleas are rhododendrons that have smaller leaves and flowers, and the two types of bushes grow under similar conditions.
There are many varieties of juniper, ranging in height from a 6-inch ground cover to a 50-foot tree. Many varieties, especially those in the 4- to 12-foot range, make very good shrubs, including Chinese juniper. This shrub is hardy in USDA hardiness zones 4 through 9. Depending on the cultivar, it can grow to a height between 2 feet and 25 feet. Taller cultivars are easily pruned and shaped to fit into a variety of landscapes. Juniper does best in full sun and prefers most kinds of soil, as long as they drain well. It is very tolerant of wind and can make a good wind break.
Boxwoods are shrubs that are cold hardy down to USDA hardiness zone 5. Boxwoods typically grow to between 5 and 10 feet tall, but some older specimens can reach 20 feet if not pruned. Although they will grow in full sun, they do better in partial shade. Boxwoods are very tolerant of different soils, but the soil must drain well. According to North Carolina State University, there are many different registered cultivars of boxwood, with over 160 currently listed.