How to Start Shrubs


Both evergreen and flowering shrubs offer interest and texture to any size landscape. While summer or fall presents the ideal time to start shrubs, they can be planted at any time of the year, other than when the ground is frozen. Shrubs can be grown and started from containers, burlapped or bare root. Starting container-grown shrubs typically provides the greatest success. Size and timetable aside, the two most important things to consider when starting shrubs are selecting the right planting site and making sure the site is properly prepared.

Step 1

Choose the proper site. Consider whether the potential site can properly accommodate the shrub once it reaches its mature size. Evaluate whether the shrub's root structure will, in time, interfere with sidewalks or driveways. Determine whether the soil in the potential site meets the shrub's drainage needs.

Step 2

Prepare the planting area. Use a shovel to dig a hole that is twice as wide as the shrub's root ball.

Step 3

Take the shrub out of its container or unwrap the burlap. Place the shrub on its side and lay the root end near the planting hole. Use your hands to gently loosen the root ball. Use a knife to cut through some of the roots, if they are growing in a circular pattern.

Step 4

Place the shrub's root ball into the hole. Allow the root ball to sit 1/2 to 1 inch above the soil. Use the soil dug to prepare the planting hole to fill in around the shrub. Remove any air pockets by lightly watering or tamping the soil with your hands.

Step 5

Water the shrub thoroughly. Place a soaker hose around the base of the shrub if the root ball is excessively dry.

Step 6

Add mulch around the base of the shrub; a 3-foot-diameter circle of mulch is sufficient.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Water
  • Soaker hose (optional)
  • Mulch


  • North Carolina Cooperative Extension: Planting Techniques for Trees and Shrubs
  • Bluegrass Gardens: Planting Shrubs
Keywords: starting shrubs, how to start shrubs, planting shrubs

About this Author

Stephanie D. Green is a freelance writer with over 10 years of experience. Green holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and enjoys writing parenting, gardening and human interest articles. Her work has been published in lifestyle and trade publications including Draft Magazine and Savannah Magazine.