The best border shrubs

Updated April 17, 2017

Creating a border in your landscape by using shrubs is the natural way to add privacy or section off your yard or garden. There are many different types of shrubs that you can use, depending on the sort of border you want to make. The types of shrubs you use will also depend on the area you live in and the climate of the area. When designing your border, you need to consider not only the climate, but how high and how wide you want the border. Some plants will grow into full and dense shrubs while others will be somewhat sparse with long thin branches.

Shrubs for Southern States

Border shrubs for the southern states like Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama include the oakleaf hydrangea. This shrub grows very well throughout the year and has big conical clusters of flowers that bloom in the summer months. It will grow to a height of 6 feet with a similar width. It prefers well draining soil with direct sunlight or partial shade.

A larger shrub is the Burkwood viburnum. This shrub grows up to 12 feet in height and can have a diameter as large as 8 feet. It blooms at the end of the winter or beginning of spring, with groups of white flowers that form a ball shape. This plant needs soil that drains well and is slightly on the acidic side. It makes a good screen and border.

The Loropetalum grows as high as 10 feet with an equal spread. Its branches arch and it produces flowers in pink or white. Make sure the soil is well draining with no alkaline content and place it in direct sun or partial shade in hotter areas.

Shrubs for the Plains and Midwest

Fountain butterfly bush grows well in the Plains or Midwest states. It has lilac groups of flowers that bloom in the spring. The butterfly bush can grow up to 10 feet tall and spread out about 10 feet as well. The branches tend to be long and form arches. Plant this shrub in full sun with soil that drains well. Once established, it can withstand drought conditions.

The Korean spice viburnum produces very strongly fragrant flowers in the spring time. It can grow between 4 and 8 feet tall and tends to be a rounded shrub, which makes a great border plant. It needs well draining soil that contains a bit of acid. Plant it in direct sun or partial shade.

Plant the Japanese barberry as an accent border shrub because it has branches that are spiny and up to 6 feet high. It gets small round red berries during the winter and has leaves that produce red, yellow or orange colours. It will do well if it receives direct sunlight, but it can be planted in partial shade.

West Coast

The West Coast states like California, Oregon and Washington have good climates for growing the India hawthorn. This is a round shrub that has shiny leaves and produces pink or white flowers that bloom during the fall all the way through the spring. It is a small shrub that only grows to a height of about 4 feet. It needs well draining soil and can grow in direct sun as well as some shade. It will even tolerate the salty spray from the ocean.

The Wynyabbie gem westringia does very well in salty environments along the coast. It is a smallish shrub about 4 feet high with pinkish-purple flowers that bloom all year round. It prefers full sunlight, but can tolerate some shade. Heavenly bamboo makes an excellent border plant because it grows straight up and can get up to 7 feet in height. It produces white flowers in the summer. It will grow well in soil that is moist and prefers to receive direct sun light.

Eastern States

States in the eastern U.S. have a good climate for growing bottlebrush buckeye. This shrub produces white flowers on long spikes. It can grow up to 12 feet in height and is not a favourite food for deer. It reproduces by suckers that take root, so it can spread quickly. Keep the soil somewhat moist and plant it in direct sunlight.

Use summersweet for a large border since it grows up to 8 feet high. It produces pink and white flowers in the summer and does well in the full shade with moist soil. Pallida Chinese witch hazel is a shrub that spreads to a width of 8 or 10 feet, which makes it a great border shrub. It produces long yellow flowers during the late winter or early spring. It likes to be in partially shaded areas with soil that is on the acidic side.


In the Southwest, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, use the Texas ranger for a border shrub. This plant does extremely well in hot arid conditions and will grow up to 8 feet in height and about 4 feet in width. Flowers are purple and shaped like bells. This shrub likes full direct sun and does not require much water as it is adapted to drought.

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About the Author

Gemma Argent writes articles and essays for Associated Content, HART, Horizon Magazine, and Canada. She writes fiction for Aria Kalsan and sci-fi and essays for Writing Edge magazine. She has bachelor's degrees from the University of Nevada, Reno, in environmental resources and archaeology and has done graduate coursework from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, in water resources and writing.