How to Create Shrub Borders


Shrub borders create an elegant and formal gardening style that suits traditional homes and homes with strong structural elements in the garden. Often when shrub borders are created, they are designed to act like outdoor walls. In this way, they are architectural elements whose size, shape, habit, texture and color become even more important, since they will frame the outdoor room for many years to come. Which plants you choose and how you arrange them depends on your particular gardening situation.

Step 1

Measure your yard or garden area. It is often important to draw your entire garden to show how buildings relate to pathways, patios, large trees, water features, lights, watering systems, hardscape and property borders. To select the correct shrub for your project, you must know the conditions where it will be planted.

Step 2

Draw your garden onto 1/4-inch graph paper with a pencil and label all large elements. Use a circle template to indicate the mature size of immature trees, shrubs and plants. Locate true north and the amount of shade your garden area encounters on most days.

Step 3

Write a list of objectives that you wish to address through the creation of a shrub border. This list might include: privacy, structure, elegance, backdrop, etc. List issues that might negatively impact such plantings such as urinating dogs, low adjacent windows and frequent hedge trimming. This will help you narrow down appropriate plant selections.

Step 4

Take your graph to your local nursery and identify the types of shrubs that will work with your yard, soil, watering, aesthetics and trimming conditions. Make sure you account for the mature size of your shrubs if you purchase immature plants, since it is necessary to plant border hedge shrubs so that the adult plants mingle but do not overcrowd each other.

Step 5

Prepare your garden soil by mixing in any amenities or fertilizers that your local garden experts suggest. Plant your border shrubs using a tape measure to carefully space the shrubs so that they will grow into the border you desire. Water your new shrubs and enjoy the new structure of your outdoor garden room.

Things You'll Need

  • 1/4-inch graph paper
  • Pencil
  • Circle template
  • Straightedge
  • Tape measure


  • Life Tips: Shrub Border Designing
Keywords: create shrub borders, design shrub borders, picking good shrubs

About this Author

F.R.R. Mallory is a senior at UC Berkeley completing degrees in both Neuropsychology and English. She has been published since 1996 in both nonfiction and fiction, books, short stories, articles and essays. Her fiction short story "Black Ice" recently won a National Space Society contest.