How to Plant Shrubs in the Winter


Proper care must be followed for newly planted shrubs to survive. Shrubs that are planted in the winter need more stringent care because of the harsher weather conditions. Shrubs do prefer to be planted in the early spring or early fall but can be successfully planted in the winter months if the ground doesn't freeze in your area. Due to the lack of an extensive root system, you will need to ensure that they do not dry out during the winter months.

Step 1

Dig a hole that is two to three times as wide as the rootball on the shrub. The depth should be just as deep as the rootball.

Step 2

Fill the hole up with water if the soil is dry. This will moisten the soil around the planting hole and prevent future moisture from migrating away from the rootball.

Step 3

Examine the rootball for any damaged or circling roots. Cut these off with a sharp knife to prevent girdling of the plant.

Step 4

Put the shrub into the planting hole and backfill the soil around the rootball. Tamp it down and add more soil as necessary to bring the soil line up to where it was previously on the shrub.

Step 5

Apply a 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch around your shrub. Keep the area within 4 to 6 inches around the woody stem free of mulch to prevent disease and rot from entering your shrub.

Step 6

Water your shrub deeply every 10 to 14 days as long as rainfall remains normal. If rainfall is lacking, you will need to water more often. To determine if your shrub needs water, dig down 3 to 4 inches next to it. If the soil is moist at this depth, supplemental watering is not required.

Tips and Warnings

  • Planting your shrub too shallow or too deep in the planting hole may result in eventual decline and death of your shrub. Always plant it as deep as it was in its pot or previous location.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Garden hose
  • Sharp knife
  • Mulch


  • North Dakota State University Agriculture and University Extension: Transplanting Trees and Shrubs
  • West Virginia University Extension Service: Planting Trees and Shrubs
Keywords: plant shrubs, planting in winter, planting hole, rootball, shrub planting

About this Author

Robin Gonyo has been writing for several years now. She has a deep love for gardening and has spent a vast amount of time researching that subject. Previously she has written for private clients before joining Demand Studios. She hopes to share her knowledge with others through her writing.