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Flower maple and purple verbena

Start with the Basics, Part I

Landscaped yard

Punctuate with Companions

Welcome to our series about basic landscape shrubs for the Sacramento region. When planning your landscape, we recommend you start with the basics, and build from there. We've selected some of our top shrub picks that perform well in our area year-round—and then matched them with companion options that will help you personalize your landscape design.

The plants in our combinations share similar needs for sun and water, and we've created selections that include various heights so that you can layer your groupings from high to low. Remember to plan for mature sizes when planting. You'll save money, water, and labor in the long run.

Red Tip Photinia

  • Evergreen shrub or small tree with a dense, rounded habit
  • Leaves emerge bright red, maturing to dark green
  • Red flush is prominent in early spring, along with clusters of small white flowers
  • Use as a hedge, screen, espalier, or border
  • 10'-15' tall | 10'-15' spread
  • Full sun
Planting Tip:
Place Red Tip Photinia as the background shrub, then plant forward by height (tallest to shortest) with Breath of Heaven, then Marguerite Daisy and Dwarf English Boxwood. Finally, fill in the foreground with Myoporum 'Putah Creek' as a flowering groundcover.

Gardenia 'Veitchii'

  • Evergreen shrub with a compact, spreading habit
  • Fragrant, double, white flowers bloom spring through summer
  • Use espaliered, in containers, in raised beds, or as accent plants
  • Plant near windows and entryways to take advantage of the fragrance
  • 3'-4' tall | 3'-6' spread
  • Afternoon shade
Planting Tip:
Plant Thuja 'Emerald Green' as the background shrub or screen. Plant forward by height (tallest to shortest) with Gardenia 'Veitchii' and Coprosma 'Tequila Sunrise'. Fill in the foreground with Periwinkle 'Bowles Mauve' as the groundcover. Flax 'Mat's Merlot' adds a welcome pop of red in strategic places as an accent.

Golden Euonymus

  • Evergreen shrub with a dense, mounding habit
  • Small, shiny leaves are creamy gold with mottled green variegation
  • Use as a colorful hedge, accent plant, or foundation plant
  • Tolerates poor soil; waterwise
  • 6'-8' tall | 3'-4' spread
  • Full sun
Planting Tip:
Position Golden Euonymus as the background shrub or screen. Plant forward by height (tallest to shortest) with Bottlebrush 'Little John' and African Daisy. Yellow Fortnight Lily and Juniper 'Spartan' can be added where corners of a structure need an accent.

Japanese Boxwood 'Green Beauty'

  • Evergreen shrub with a compact habit that naturally grows in a dense cone shape
  • Glossy, dark green foliage holds its color well in cold weather
  • Use as a formal hedge, topiary, in containers, or plant in groups
  • Deer resistant
  • 4'-6' tall | 4'-6' spread
  • Full sun or part shade
Planting Tip:
Grow Japanese Boxwood 'Green Beauty' as the background shrub. Plant forward by height (tallest to shortest) with Lomandra 'Platinum Beauty' and Foxtail Asparagus Fern. Fill in the foreground with purple Verbena as a profuse blooming groundcover. An orange Flowering Maple will play well as an accent with the purple Verbena. Other color combinations of pink or red are available.

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