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Best Shrubs for Your Garden

Holly shrub in front of a brick wall.

Hollies make great landscape shrubs with year-round appeal. They sport evergreen foliage, fragrant spring flowers and bright berries in winter. Hollies prefer full sun but can tolerate part shade.

Prune in early spring or late summer to keep shapely. Old, overgrown hollies often can be rejuvenated. Cut them back to less than half their size and thin out the main branches.

Blooming azaleas in a landscape.

Azaleas, like most shrubs and trees, can be planted in spring or fall. Fall is the preferred season. Dormancy gives the roots time to grow without the stress of heat and drought.

When planting in spring, be sure to mulch well and water throughout the summer. This will help the plant get established.

Purple lilacs in bloom.

These purple flowers appear as soon as the forsythia fades. However, it’s their scent that makes lilacs so widely loved. These easy-to-grow shrubs are perfect as a focal point in a garden. They also make an excellent privacy hedge.

Plant in full sun or light shade in the hottest climates. Most lilacs bloom best in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 7, the regions with winter chill. Prune mature lilacs as soon as the flowers fade.

Oakleaf Hydrangea
Oakleaf hydrangeas in bloom.

Oakleaf hydrangea are known for their bold and colorful summer blooms. However, they are also a top choice for their multi-season show. In fall, the leaves turn hues of red and orange. Come winter, their peeling bark adds interest to the landscape.

Oakleaf hydrangeas bloom on the previous season’s growth. Prune right after flowering in the fall or in early winter. This hydrangea doesn’t need a lot of pruning, so give it only a light haircut once a year.

Witch Hazel
Witch hazel in bloom.

This shrub is usually the earliest plant to bloom in the landscape. It will normally flower in February or March. Witch hazel’s fall foliage also stands out if it is grown in full sun. Light pruning to shape the plant is all that is needed.

Yellow forsythia in bloom.

Not only is forsythia a vigorous, beautiful bush, but it’s an early bloomer. Popular in many landscapes, you’ll know forsythia for its bright yellow blooms. Plant in full sun and prune yearly right after the shrub has finished blooming.

Tips for Planting Shrubs and Trees in Your Garden
A man planting shrubs in a landscape.
  • Sketch a plan of your house and landscape. Include any existing garden beds, borders, trees and shrubs.
  • Choose trees and shrubs suited for your area and sun exposure. Some trees and shrubs like full sun and others should be planted in partial shade.
  • Look for the light in your landscape. Which direction does your home face? East means early morning sun and shade in the afternoon. The north side is coldest, so choose only the hardiest plants for that location. South and west are the hottest.
  • Plan well for watering. Do you have an irrigation system? Soaker hoses are efficient in planting beds.
  • Check plant tags for mature size, sun exposure and cold hardiness before buying. Allow enough space for mature growth. Don’t plant trees too close to power lines or other trees. Also, beware of underground pipes, your home’s foundation and walkways.
  • Some trees and shrubs, such as roses, can be grown in large containers. These are great for patios or balconies. Learn more about gardening with roses. 

Tip: When planning your landscape, learn the hardiness zone to determine what plants will grow best in your climate. 

A great landscape starts with good planning and choosing the right shrubs. Learn the art of caring for your foundation plants, and your yard will look more beautiful year after year.

Ready to pick your shrubs? The Home Depot delivers online orders where and when you want them.