Ideas & Inspiration

Best Shrubs for Your Garden

Holly
Holly shrub in landscape

With evergreen foliage, fragrant spring flowers and bright berries in winter, hollies make great landscape shrubs with year-round appeal. 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 by cutting them back to less than half their size and thinning out the main branches.

Azalea
Blooming azaleas in a landscape

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


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

Lilac
Purple lilacs in bloom

These purple flowers appear as soon as the forsythia fades, but it’s their scent that makes lilacs so widely loved. These easy-to-grow shrubs are perfect as a focal point in a garden or to grow as a 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, but are a top choice for their multi-season show. In fall, the leaves turn hues of red and orange and, come winter, their peeling bark adds interest to the landscape.


Oakleaf hydrangeas bloom on the previous season’s growth, so 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, flowering 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.

Forsythia
Yellow forsythia in bloom

Not only is forsythia a vigorous, beautiful bush, but it is also 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
Gardener planting shrubs in the landscape

Sketch a plan of your house and landscape. Include any existing garden beds, borders, trees and shrubs.


Look for the light. 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 for water. 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, underground pipes, your home’s foundation, walkways or other trees.


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.


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.


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, underground pipes, your home’s foundation, walkways or other trees.


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