How to Plant & Grow Shrubs in Your Yard 

Imagine a beautiful, well-manicured yard that instantly attracts attention. In all likelihood, this includes not only a wonderfully lush lawn and a few well-placed trees but also plenty of shrubs.

If your yard currently lacks these essentials, it’s time to add a little pizzazz to your outdoor space. Planting and caring for shrubs can be remarkably easy, as we demonstrate below: 

Plan the Project Thoroughly

A detailed plan is crucial before you hit up your local garden store. You need to know from the outset what function your shrubs will serve and how they’ll fit into the overall look of your yard. You’ll also need to research which shrubs will be the easiest to maintain — and which are worth avoiding. 

Find the Right Plants

Once you have a basic idea of what you want to accomplish by planting shrubs, it’s time to pick your favorite plants. First, get a sense of the most popular options in your region. Chances are, you’ll stumble on at least a few of the following:

  • Holly
  • Lilacs
  • Juniper
  • Forsythia
  • Rhododendron
  • Holly
  • Heather
  • Roses 

Select a Location

If you know which plants you prefer, take some time to determine where they’ll work best in your yard. You can also complete these steps in the reverse order: Find a location that could benefit from shrubs before selecting plants based on the sun exposure and soil quality in that area.

This is when your previous goal identification efforts will come in handy. If, for example, you intend to use shrubs as an alternate form of fencing, they’ll naturally be placed near the far edges of your property. If they’re meant to complement other plants, their location may already be decided. However, if you’re like many homeowners, these will serve as ornamentation near your foundation or front walkway.

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Not sure if a particular location is ideal? Once you’ve confirmed that this area can sustain shrubs, take a picture of this location as it currently exists. Take another picture from further away. As you view these images, try to imagine what your yard might look like once you add your desired shrubs. 

Choose a Time

Your environment and climate will largely determine when you plant shrubs. When in doubt, spring is ideal — especially before the buds begin to bloom. Early summer may be acceptable if it’s not too hot. Otherwise, you may be able to plant during the fall if you live in a warm location. You just need to give the roots time to get established before winter arrives. 

Plant the Shrubs

Now that you’ve gotten the mental components of your landscaping project out of the way, it’s time to focus on the physical part: planting the shrubs.

While it’s possible to grow shrubs from seeds, most homeowners prefer to use shrubs that have already sprouted. If this is your desired approach, you’ll need to dig a sizable hole to accommodate each plant. This hole should be twice as wide as the root ball.

Once you’re finished digging, add a little compost to the bottom of the hole. This will provide an immediate source of nutrients to help your shrubs grow strong. If you intend to avoid weeds, add landscape fabric to the area.

Finally, place the shrub in the ground. Don’t remove the burlap or other material covering the root ball until the shrub is in place. Add compost to any soil you’ve dug out before refilling the hole. Finish by watering the shrub thoroughly. 

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Don’t Forget About Maintenance

While it’s tempting to assume that your shrubs will be just fine after planting them, they may need a little additional care to achieve their full aesthetic potential. Shrubs don’t require nearly as much commitment as annuals, but you’ll still need to put in some effort to get them off to a great start.

How you proceed will depend largely on which types of shrubs you’ve decided to plant. Some shrubs may require occasional pruning, while others may need extensive mulching to retain moisture.

Watering is extra important for newly planted shrubs. For the first year, be prepared to water new shrubs at least once per week. Fertilizer won’t be required in most situations if you commit to proper mulching.

A little effort can make all the difference as you reap the aesthetic benefits of shrubbery. Don’t waste this opportunity to level up your yard.