Water-Wise Shrubs

Many commonly planted shrubs are water-wise. Unusual or native water-wise shrubs are increasingly available at garden centers.

Some characteristics that help shrubs reduce water loss include deep taproots, waxy leaf coatings, and light colored and small leaves.

Shrub with light yellow flowers
Different cultivars of water-wise Shrubby cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa) are available at garden centers and nurseries. Photo credit: ekenitr Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

General Characteristics of Shrubs

  • Woody stems and branches
  • Single trunked or multi-stemmed
  • 1.5 to 10’ tall when mature
  • Flowers, summer and fall foliage, and bark provide visual interest
  • Often long lived
  • Generally easy to grow

Use in the Landscape

  • Provide a backdrop for planting beds
  • Screen unwanted views and hide building foundations
  • Provide shade
  • Act as a groundcover
  • Add beauty to the landscape
Shrub with red leaves in a garden
Water-Wise Purple-Leaf Sand Cherry (Prunus x cistena) Photo credit: F.D. Richards Flickr CC By-SA 2.0

Select shrubs for the appropriate USDA Hardiness Zone. Consider how much sun or shade the particular location receives and the mature size of the shrub for the space where it will be planted.

Shrub with a light pink flower
Water-wise Woods Rose (Rosa woodsii) is native to the western US and Canada . Photo credit: J.N. Stuart Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Additional Resources:

The following publications include plant lists of shrubs with potentially desirable landscape characteristics:

Plant Selection for Shrub Beds
Designing Water-Wise Shrub Bed Areas
A Shrub By Any Other Name is a Bush


Utah – Shrub Selection for Utah Landscapes