Definition of Shrubs

Overview

Shrubs are perennial plants that grow from bases that have multiple woody stems, a feature that distinguishes a shrub from a tree that grows from a single trunk. Shrubs grow to different heights. Low-growing shrubs are functional ground covers. Medium-sized shrubs accent landscapes with eye-level interest, and towering large shrubs are a good choice for adding height, with body, to your landscape.

Deciduous Shrubs

The leaves of deciduous shrubs change colors in the fall season before falling. The bare shrubs add a different type of interest to the landscape during the winter months. In the spring, new leaves form to add color, shape and texture to the garden. St. John's wort (Hypericum kalmianum), serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.) and Kelsey dogwood (Cornus sericea) are a few types of deciduous shrubs.

Evergreen Shrubs

You can depend on evergreen shrubs to fill your landscape with year-round green color and texture. Each year, evergreen shrubs lose and renew some of their foliage, but this does not leave the shrubs bare like deciduous shrubs. There are two types of evergreen shrubs--those with narrow leaves and those with broad leaves. Rhododendron species and Korean boxwood (Buxus microphylla) are two types of broad-leaved evergreens. Eastern arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) and also Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) are two types of narrow-leaved evergreens.

Function

Shrubs are used to transform and soften bare and hard landscapes around houses or buildings with added body, organic shape, dimension, textures and color. Use tall and dense shrubs for privacy, and use small shrubs as ground covers and fillers to create a low-maintenance garden.

Significance

Incorporating shrubs in a landscape are eco-friendly additions that help to increase the oxygen quality of the area. They act as wind breakers and insulation when planted around houses and small buildings, and their naturally dense structures create mild sound barriers between the houses and the street.

Animal Homes

Birds, insects and small animals often make shrubs their homes. The multiple inner branches covered by the shrubs' outer foliage make them naturally enclosed structures that animals can use for protection and shade from the sun.

Landscaping With Shrubs

Choose several varieties of evergreen and deciduous shrubs when adding shrubs to your landscape. Position shrubs at the four corners of your house or building, and fill in the spaces with taller shrubbery at the back and low-growing shrubs near the front. Intersperse other planting additions in your landscape design, including flowers, plants and trees that are native to or thrive well in your area.

Keywords: shrub definition, what are shrubs, about shrubs

About this Author

Naima Manal's articles on health, diet, nutrition, alternative medicine, education, parenting, crafts, travel, home and garden and home improvement have appeared on eHow, Garden Guides, Trails, ConnectED, Helium and others. Manal received her B.S. degree in biology/pre-medical studies from Molloy College in 1994 and has been a freelance writer, teacher and homeschooling mom since 1993.