Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Plant New Shrubs

By Elton Dunn ; Updated September 21, 2017
Select a good site for your shrub before you plant.
spiraea image by Alison Bowden from Fotolia.com

New shrubs can add character, privacy or decoration to your home. Flowering shrubs provide ornamental beauty and may attract butterflies, birds and bees. Proper shrub planting takes time and consideration so the shrub complements your landscape and fills the space well. Poorly located shrubs can cast excess shade, crowd existing plants, grow over fences into neighbors' yards or fail to thrive. Plant in the late winter to early spring when frost danger passes.

Choose the best site for your new shrub based on its preference for sun or shade and its mature size. Small shrubs shouldn't be planted in a large space they will not grow to fill, nor should large shrubs be placed in an area they will outgrow. Your new shrub should contain a plant tag that informs you of the plant's light preference and mature size.

Dig a hole two to three times as wide and just as deep as the plant's rootball. Remove anything that will obstruct the roots, such as weeds, sticks or competing roots. Jab your shovel at the bottom of the hole to roughen the soil, which helps the plant's roots adapt. If you're planting several shrubs in the same bed, create one long trench rather than individual holes. Make the trench as deep as the rootball and at least twice as wide.

Remove your new shrub from its container. Break apart the rootball by massaging it between your hands. Unwind tangled and circled roots before planting. Shrubs can choke if planted with tangled roots. Clip the ends of broken roots with clippers, trimming back to healthy tissue. Do this for all shrubs you plan to plant.

Place the shrub in the prepared hole so it sits at the same depth as it was planted in the container. Holding the plant vertically straight, fill in the hole with soil. Complete planting of any additional shrubs.

Water the soil to finish shrub planting. Water until the soil becomes saturated and compresses around the base of the plant.

Layer 2 inches of mulch around the base of your shrub to help the soil retain water.


Things You Will Need

  • Shovel
  • Water
  • Mulch


  • Choose container or bare-root shrubs, and purchase the shrubs just before you plan to plant.

About the Author


A successful website writer since 1998, Elton Dunn has demonstrated experience with technology, information retrieval, usability and user experience, social media, cloud computing, and small business needs. Dunn holds a degree from UCSF and formerly worked as professional chef. Dunn has ghostwritten thousands of blog posts, newsletter articles, website copy, press releases and product descriptions. He specializes in developing informational articles on topics including food, nutrition, fitness, health and pets.