Shrub Planting Tips

Shrubs come in all sizes and shapes. Some, like Texas sage, grow to 8 feet tall and wide; others, like privet, stay much smaller. Choose shrubs that do well in your climate and hardiness zones. Camellias make a lovely hedge but won't survive where the winters are below freezing. Give your shrubs a good start by taking extra effort and time when you plant them.

Digging the Hole

Dig a hole that is twice as big as the container the shrub is in. For example, if the container is 18 inches high and 12 inches wide, the planting hole should be 36 inches deep and 24 inches wide. Break through any compacted soil. Remove large rocks and tree roots.


Space the bushes correctly. The tendency is to plant too closely because the plants are small. That leads to overcrowding when the bushes are mature. If the plants grow to 5 feet wide, plant them 2 1/2 feet apart. If you don't like the bare look, fill in with fast-growing annuals.

Soil Improvement

You have only one chance to improve the soil when planting the shrub. Extra fertilizer doesn't make up for poor soil. Add a bucket of compost and a cup of gypsum to every bucket of soil. Mix well and add back to the planting hole. If the soil is clay, add sand. Exactly how much depends on the soil. Measure some clay soil and put it in a bucket. Add sand and compost; measure each of them. Mix well. Keep adding sand and compost until the damp soil won't hold together in the palm of your hand after you've squeezed it. Use that same ratio for the soil in the hole.


Backfill the hole with the amended soil mixture to a depth of the container. Fill the hole with water and let it drain. Place the plant, still in the container, in the hole. The lip of the container should be at the top edge of the hole. If it isn't, add or remove soil. You want the root ball of the plant to be just an inch or so below the soil line so you can cover it with the amended soil. If it is too low, the plant's trunk will be buried, leading to rot; if it's too high, the root ball will be above the soil and dry out.

Water Well

During the summer, water the bush every day after it's been planted for the first week. Taper off to twice a week, then once a week, and then follow the normal watering schedule for the rest of the garden.

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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.