Tree Care Services of Vancouver, WA and Portland, OR

Best Shrubs For Your Portland Landscaping

By AK Timber in Planting

Shrubs are some of the most beautiful foliage that you can add to your yard – and you can get everything that you want without adding a lot of work. Whether you look for something that will add more color to your yard, something that you can move around as you see fit, or something that will just provide you with some privacy, there is a shrub for that. At the same time, shrubs can provide wildlife habitats that will bring your favorite animals into your yard, sweet fragrances to enjoy in the spring, and even help to add structure to a beautiful landscape design.

Still, it is important to know that not all shrubs look great or work great for every yard – you need to be judicious about what you get.
Here are some of our leading choices for Portland yards:

Deciduous Azaleas



  • Provides ample shade
  • Can grow extremely large
  • Requires some pruning

Many different types of azaleas fall into this category, but that provides homeowners with many options. These are some of the most beautiful shrubs you can put into your yard. According to Gardening With Charlie, you can get your choice of colors in these shrubs: Early spring in colors such as pink, salmon, yellow, white, rose and bi colors. Left alone, they will grow fairly well. If you do some basic tree care, however, you can get quite a better show each spring. This is the perfect shrub to take pictures against.

There are azaleas that won’t grow in every area, however, so it is important to understand which ones will grow in Portland and which ones won’t – it is best to talk to a professional or a specialist.




  • Does not produce seeds
  • Attracts butterflies
  • Perfect for sunny areas

A few years ago, the traditional butterfly bush was taken off the market because it was turning into too much of a nuisance for homeowners – the seeds were spreading everywhere and causing too many to pop up. Since then, the Buddleia has taken over its spot – but we cannot really call it the butterfly bush anymore.

The Old Famer’s Almanac explains further: “Despite the “butterfly” name, keep in mind that this shrub is not a “host plant” for butterflies in that it does not support butterfly reproduction and lifecycle. Caterpillars do not feed on butterfly bushes; rather, it only provides nectar to adult butterflies. If you do have a butterfly bush, be sure to add native host plants such as milkweed, aster, and dill if you want the butterflies to stay.”

Still, this is a perfect shrub for sunny areas where you want to add some truly unique color.




  • Most beautiful in winter
  • Has a purple color
  • Attracts birds

If you are ever looking into someone’s yard in the winter and see a beautiful flash of purple, it is probably because they have a Callicarpa shrub on their property. These shrubs are fairly nondescript in other seasons, but in the winter it is quite gorgeous. While it may look fancy, it is actually one of the easiest shrubs for homeowners to grow and care for on a day-to-day basis.

The Callicarpa provides shelter and food for birds in the winter. Growing up to 6 feet, it is a fairly substantial shrub that will provide shade, privacy, and security if you want it. Relatively pest and disease free, you won’t have to worry about this one too much. In fact, it is generally one of the easiest shrubs to care for, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden.




  • Also known as the American smoke tree
  • Showy in the fall months
  • Beautiful purple/green leaves

The Smoke Tree is one of those trees or shrubs that you will need to look at a few times before you really understand what is going on – the “smoke” is actually comprised of tiny, delicate flowers that are translucent. The smoke can last for some time, changing the appearance slightly as it ages.

According to Fine Gardening, “Outstanding specimens in a shrub border, Cotinus are also a great choice for massing or for hedges. They need minimal pruning to maintain a healthy framework, or alternately, may be coppiced to produce large, dramatic foliage on varieties with colorful foliage (this is at the expense of generous flowering).  C. obovatus is native to the southeast U.S.”

Philadelphus Lewisii


  • Also known as the “mock orange”
  • Provides longer interest than other shrubs
  • Quite tolerant

According to Calscape, the Philadelphus Lewisii is one of the easiest, most tolerant shrubs to grow but is also one of the most underutilized. That makes it a great choice for someone who isn’t sure about the conditions of their soil or yard. This is a shrub that does require some regular pruning to keep it looking its best, but other than that it is fairly easy. Most people do choose to plant this one in groups.

While providing privacy, this one will actually completely fragrance your yard – they are known for their sweet smell. This is certainly one of those shrubs that will reward you when you put the work in and keep it looking its best.

Adding shrubs to your yard is going to add so much to it, not only the things listed above, but shrubs have been known to create healthy ecosystems that sustain all other plants in your yard.

Contact AK Timber Services for all of your tree care needs – we can help you at any stage of the tree process, from planting and taking care of your tree to pruning and cutting it down to watering. Of course, we can also help you with any questions about whether or not you can remove trees or debris from your yard. Call us today at (360) 635-1076 for all of your tree care needs – we offer free estimates. No matter what, make sure that you do not take tree trimming into your own hands, as this can cause quite a bit of damage.

Header photo courtesy of crabchick on Flickr!