How Long Do Shrubs Live? What Impacts the Lifespan of Shrubs

The shrubs that make up your home’s landscape are a valuable investment and you want to do what you can to protect them. But it’s important to know that shrubs do not last forever (even when they’re well-cared for).

Like other living things, residential plants will eventually begin to die. The average shrub lifespan is typically 10 to 15 years. That’s not to say that shrubs can’t go on to live after that, but you may notice they could start to look subpar (no matter what you do).

Over time a shrub might just be showing its age.

Of course, there are steps that you can take to expand the lifespan of shrubs and also keep them looking their best, even as they get older. Understanding what impacts shrub lifespan, as well as what you can do to promote better health, can help you to get the most out of your beautiful landscape.

What Impacts the Lifespan of Shrubs?

Let’s look at some of the factors that can have an impact on a shrub’s life. As with anything in life, there are going to be factors that affect the health and lifespan of shrubs that you will have no control over (like the weather).

The Way in Which The Shrub Was Planted

We’ve talked in previous articles about how important it is that plants are installed correctly. There is a saying in our industry that goes, “right plant, right place.” It means that the plant should not only be installed in a location where it looks good (from an aesthetic standpoint), but also a place where it can thrive. Making mistakes in location can be detrimental to the shrub lifespan.

plant health care technician inspect shrub

For instance, if you install a sun-loving shrub in the shade, it’s never going to perform well.

Another planting error is not paying attention to the necessary depth or spacing when installing shrubs. A shrub that is planted shallowly might be underperforming for this reason. That’s naturally going to put a lot of added stress on it, and impact the lifespan.

Use This Guide to Identify Common Tree & Shrub Threats
Sometimes people inherit a landscape (after moving to a new home) with shrubs that were poorly planted. While you can’t fix the error at this point, you can start fresh and ensure the landscape is installed and maintained properly going forward.

The Weather Impacts Shrubs

Weather also has an impact on the health and lifespan of a shrub.

snow covered shrub

Extreme conditions like high winds, ice, scorching sun, and drought can all take a toll on a shrub over time. You obviously do not have control over the weather. But you can help set your shrub up for success and allow them to better withstand tough conditions by ensuring they have everything they need (like proper watering and nutrients).

As far as snow and ice build-up go, we’ve written an entire article on that topic. It is best to try and prevent snow and ice from piling up when you can. Regular pruning can help.

Shrub Pest and Disease Pressure

The landscape is also full of threats from both pests and diseases. If your shrub becomes infested with a pest or overtaken by a disease, it’s obviously going to take a toll on its health and could affect the lifespan. While some pests and diseases can be treated, others cannot. There are a lot of factors that come into play as far as how your shrub will fare including whether any preventative measures were taken and how healthy your shrub was, to begin with. An already struggling shrub might not be able to fight off a pest or disease (whereas a healthy one likely could).

Commercial tree care technician spraying shrubs

Accidents and Shrub Damage

Of course, we also want to mention that accidents and damage to shrubs can also have an impact on the lifespan of shrubs. For instance, if there is an oil or chemical spill or leak near your landscaping, this could damage the plant. Sometimes there is construction damage. Perhaps you are having some work done in your yard and a shrub gets hit by a piece of machinery.

shrub with area of brown dead leaves

Homeowners also sometimes inadvertently damage their shrubs while trying to do the right thing. Overwatering is a common way that homeowners put added stress on their plants. When you water beyond your shrub’s needs, you can drown its roots.

This sometimes occurs when a shrub is turning yellow because of a disease or pest problem. A homeowner might mistakenly assume it’s experiencing drought stress and end up overwatering.

How to Increase the Lifespan of Your Shrubs

As we mentioned before, there are always going to be some factors that you simply have no control over. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t set your plants up for success. With proper care, you can help to increase the lifespan of shrubs.

This includes proper watering along with an investment in a Plant Health Care program.

Commercial tree care technician spraying shrubs

A Plant Health Care program will provide your shrubs with added nutrients as well as preventative and curative treatments to combat common diseases and pests.

Of course, that’s not to say that Plant Health Care is a magic serum or a “cure-all” for every single plant problem. We sometimes have homeowners who expect (or at least hope) that Plant Health Care will fix their already-very-sick plant—and that’s not always possible.

The truth is, sometimes you are in better shape starting over if your shrub is already really struggling. If it’s just a matter of old age (a shrub that’s 15+ years old), it could just be time to start with some new plant material.

No matter what, you can count on us to be honest with you and tell you whether we think a plant can be saved or not. Most people value that open and honest communication and would rather have straightforward information on what they can expect than promises that could never be fulfilled.

Once you’re on the program, you’ll gain peace of mind that your landscape is as protected as it can be with a proactive approach. That means spotting problems early and warding them off before they become serious. When it comes to protecting the investment in your landscape, and improving the lifespan of shrubs, it’s the best decision you can make for your property. It won’t mean your shrubs live forever, but it will mean you’ll truly get the most out of them that you can.

If you’d like to have a tree on your property assessed, or want to find out more about our Plant Health Care programs, then contact us for a free consultation. Once you do, you can rest assured knowing that we’ve got it completely under control.

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Identifying tree and shrub insects, disease, and mites.

Image Source: snow covered shrub

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