How to Plant Shrubs


Shrubs are the backbone of the garden. They are used to soften the visual line between building and ground, to create privacy, or to act as a barrier. Some shrubs such as roses are beautiful specimens of color and form. All shrubs have their own particular requirements, which must be taken into consideration when choosing the right shrub for the right location.

Step 1

Evaluate the planting location. How big is the planting area? Shrubs come in all sizes. Some have a height and width of a few inches while others can have a mature height and spread of 12 to 15 feet or more. For privacy a tall shrub may be called for, but planting a large shrub in a small space will require a great deal of pruning to keep it in check.

Step 2

Choose a shrub that will grow well in the planting location. Read the label attached to the shrub. It should list its mature height and spread, as well as light, soil and water requirements. The label should also list the winter temperatures the shrub can withstand. When ordering from a catalogue, check the hardiness zone map and determine what zone your area is located in. Catalogues will list the zone requirements in the plant description.

Step 3

Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball and as deep as the container. The plant should sit at the same level as it did in the container. Mix some organic material (peat moss, leaf mold, manure, or compost) into the soil that has been removed. The ration should be one-third organic matter to two-thirds soil.

Step 4

Remove the shrub from its container. If the roots are a dense mass, score the root ball deeply in three places with the pruning saw. This will help prevent girdling. Prune any visibly damaged roots. .

Step 5

Fill in around roots with the mix. When you have filled in the hole halfway, fill the planting hole with water. As it drains, it will settle the planting mix around the roots. Continue filling in the hole and water again.

Step 6

Prune the top growth back by one-third with the pruning shears. It is best to cut the stem just above a bud. This will allow the plant to use more of the available nutrients to form new roots. Shrubs grow back quickly and will develop a more compact, bushy top.

Step 7

Water every day for the first 2 weeks, then weekly for the first year, as needed, while the shrub is actively growing. Shrubs require on average 1 inch of water per week. Cut water back in late summer to prepare the plant for winter dormancy.

Things You'll Need

  • Shrub
  • Shovel
  • Organic matter
  • Pruning saw
  • Pruning shears
  • Garden hose


  • Selecting Shrubs for Your Home
Keywords: How to plant bushes, planting a bush, planting an ornamental shrub

About this Author

Joan Puma is a graduate of Hofstra University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in fine arts, and has worked in the film industry for many years as a script supervisor. Puma's interest in gardening lead her to write The Complete Urban Gardener, which was published by Harper & Row. Other interests include, art history, medieval history, and equitation.