Designing with Shrubs

Shrubs are woody-stemmed plants that typically branch out at ground level. Shrubs can be deciduous, where they lose their leaves after their growing season, or evergreen, which means they retain their green leaves throughout the entire year. Designing with shrubs allows for bright, colorful, unique spaces with a variety of flowers, foliage, stems, and fruits. In addition, many shrubs offer amazing fragrances, enhancing a garden even more. When selecting shrubs to add to your garden, there are several factors to consider and it is critical to choose shrub types that thrive in the conditions of your space. This includes sun exposure, climate, size, and color. Therefore, when designing with shrubs, it is important to place shrub species next to companion species which thrive in similar conditions.

Learn about some perfect shrub types for gardens and the conditions in which they best survive:


American arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)

Sun Preference: Full sun but can survive partial shade Climate: Prefers cooler climates; Zones 3-7 Size: Matures to at least 20 feet tall and 10-15 feet wide Foliage Color: Blue/Green Additional Features: Leaves are soft and appear scale-like



Blue Princess Holly (Ilex x meserveae)

Sun Preference: Partial to full sun Climate: Subtropical, tropical, and temperate areas; Hardiness zones 5-9 Size: Matures to 15 feet tall and approximately 10 feet wide Foliage Color: White Additional Features: Its red berries attract songbirds and other pollinators



Evergreen Euonymus or Japanese Euonymus (Euonymus japonicus)

Sun Preference: Full sun is best but can tolerate shade Climate: Warmer climates; Hardy zones 6-7 Size: Matures to about 15 feet tall and 7-8 feet wide Foliage Color: Greenish-white Additional Features: Leathery leaves; Produces a pinkish-red fruit



Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)

Sun Preference: Full sun to shade  Climate: Cool, moist climates; Hardiness zone 5 Size: Can grow 4-8 feet tall and 4-10 feet wide Foliage Color: Cream, light pink, white colors Additional Features: Oakleaf-shaped fuzzy leaves


Black Beauty Elderberry (Sambucus nigra ‘Black Beauty')

Sun Preference: Full sun to partial sun  Climate: Moist climates; Suited for hardiness zones 4-7 Size: Grows to 12 feet tall and 12 feet wide Foliage Color: Pink Additional Features: Lemon-scented blossoms attract butterflies and other pollinators; Produces elderberries that birds feed on