How to plan a shrub border

Updated July 19, 2017

A shrub border filled with a variety of sizes, shapes and blooms creates a balanced, layered display to the landscape. Shrub borders define the garden with their attractive form and vibrant, showy foliage. Well-placed shrubs for every season provide a permanent structure and backdrop to the landscape that adds interest and year-round colour. Their varying heights create shape to the garden and provide an ever-changing border to admire for many years.

Investigate the shrub's preferred growing environment, including the amount of sunlight they need, to determine the best space in the border. Monitor the landscape to determine the amount of sunlight the space receives.

Sketch or draw out a plan of the design to refer to as you begin the planting process. Draw in outdoor features like utility lines or drainage ditches that can be damaged by the shrub.

Consider how you plan to use the shrubs in the border and how tall the shrub grows to determine the amount of space needed to grow the plant.

Pick shrubs that grow within your local climate to ensure a successful, long-lived border. Consult nurseries and garden centres for native shrubs, which are often tolerant of and thrive in the current climate.

Balance the border with tall shrubs at the back to anchor the borders' widest point. Consider low or spreading shrubs in the front of the border to create focal points up front.

Choose shrubs that have year-round interest like evergreens, especially for borders that are used for screening the landscape. Space them out side-by-side for a makeshift fence.

Incorporate flowering shrubs for a burst of seasonal colour to the border and to break up a non-flowering shrub border. Interplant flowering shrubs to accent the border with their colourful blooms and foliage.

Grow shrubs for every season to provide year-round colour and blooms at different times of the year. Incorporate autumn and winter shrubs during the coldest months to provide colour with their glossy berries and bright foliage.

Things You'll Need

  • Plan
  • Evergreen shrubs
  • Flowering shrubs
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About the Author

Callie Barber has been writing professionally since 2002. Barber's love for design and writing inspired her to create Design Your Revolution, a blog that shares creative and affordable ways to decorate indoor and outdoor living environments. Her articles have appeared on and Barber holds a Bachelors of Arts in international studies from the University of North Carolina.