How to Landscape with Bushes

An azalea bush in full bloom. image by Alvimann/Morguefile


Bushes form the backbone of a well-thought-out landscape by functioning as anchor plants. These basic plants have a rather mundane reputation for being boring evergreens that just get stuck into the ground to fill space. Bushes serve a more important purpose than that by providing continuity in the landscape. Continuity occurs when a gardener repeats a shrub or plant in multiple places in the landscape to tie the plan together. The name "bush" or "shrub" can be used interchangeably to describe these deciduous plants that drop their leaves in the fall.

Step 1

Evaluate the light, soil, space and water requirements for the bushes that you're considering adding to your landscape. Just as with flowering perennials and annuals, every plant has specific requirements. In particular, pay attention to the level of sun tolerance. A flowering bush placed in the shade won't produce abundant blooms in restricted light. Allow plenty of space for the bush to expand and grow over time or you'll be facing a transplant in the near future.

Step 2

Consider the wide variety of bushes available for your landscape. Flowering bushes provide seasonal color with a variety of blooming times throughout the growing season. Some bushes announce the coming of spring with early season blooms that drop off to leave a brilliant green shrub. Others bloom later in the summer, adding late-season color to tired landscapes.

Step 3

Make your decision on which bushes to use as the anchor plants of your landscape. These hardy additions to your design will provide consistent foliage and stabilize your design with a standard color. Use similar bushes in the landscape in different gardens to tie the design together. Consider building the landscape around selected bushes with complementary annuals and perennial flowers. Shrubs offer such versatility in the landscape that they can stand-alone or blend perfectly with other plantings.

Step 4

Purchase the bush that meets sunlight, size and personal preferences for your landscape needs. Include soil conditioner or peat moss in your purchases to enrich the soil around the shrub.

Step 5

Amend the soil with the proper conditioners such as peat moss to encourage full and healthy foliage. Turn over the top 12 inches of the garden bed using the shovel. Break up all clumps and smooth the surface of the garden with a rake. Pour the soil conditioner or peat moss into the garden and turn it over again to work the peat into the earth.

Step 6

Follow planting instructions exactly as specified on the label attached to the pot. Nurseries place this information on each plant to aid gardeners in planting bushes, trees and flowers.

Step 7

Water bushes at the base of the plant where the trunk meets the ground. Sprinkling water on the leaves simply invites evaporation into the air instead of absorption to nourish the plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Rake
  • Peat moss or soil conditioner


  • University of Minnesota Extension
  • Utah State Cooperative Extension
  • University of Rhode Island
Keywords: bushes, landscaping with bushes, landscape bushes

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with over three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various websites and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.

Photo by: Alvimann/Morguefile