What Are shrubs

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When you are a beginner gardener it can at times seem daunting to venture out to a plant nursery to choose some shrubs for your garden. The incredible choose of plants can be mind boggling, and the decision on which ones best suit your garden, difficult. But before making a decision you will need to know a little bit about what types are best to purchase, and how to plant them.

Therefore I wrote this quick article centered around the topic of what a shrub actually is.

Shrubs In Garden Design:

Shrubs are an integral path of any garden design. You can use them as fillers around trees or as a backgrounds in borders, particularly in cottage garden. They can compliment any annual or perennial flowers you place in front of them.

When designing a garden it is also necessary to consider the shape of a shrub. This is particularly important when using them as a backing plants. They must be able to fit snugly into the spot provided.

Too often I have seen gardens where people have planted shrubs without any thought going into the design feature required. Sometimes you will see them positioned in front of smaller plants, or so close that they grow into each other.

Shrubs can also the utilized as hedge plants. There are literally hundreds of different plants available for every climatic and landscaping condition. Certain plants, such as some conifers, are fantastic plants to use in topiary.They can be cut and trimmed to make round, square or even triangular shapes. Some are excellent to trim into animal, conical or other more geometric forms.

They can also be used as dividers when constructing rooms in your garden. But this is something usually undertaken by more advanced gardeners.

You are able to purchase both deciduous and evergreen varieties. The most popular of the evergreen types, that are often utilized in a cottage garden, are members of the rhododendron group, including azaleas and camellias. There are also many other exotic and native shrubs available. The list is endless.

How to plant a shrub:

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

It is possible to purchase both seedlings or mature plants. It all depends on how quickly you want them to grow. Seedlings can however take a lot more work to keep alive. Personally I prefer reasonably mature shrubs that can fill an area rather quickly.

Make sure that when you plant you dig a hole that is large enough to allow root spread. Once you have placed the plant in the hole provided back fill it with a good mix of the soil that you dug out previously. You can add a small amount of fertilizer at this stage, just be certain that you use one that is suitable to your plants development.


You will also need to check the pH levels of the soil to be sure that the shrub will grow happily in the spot you have chosen.

If the soil is acidic and you need to increase the pH level, then you will need to add some Dolomite or lime. It is important that you only make the adjustments that are necessary. You are able to purchase a kit that can read soil PH levels and I suggest that you do so. Too much lime can be as bad as not enough.

Should your plant require lower pH levels then you can adjust the soil by using a product such as iron chelates.

When you have decided on what shrubs you wish to take home to plant in your garden, be certain they are healthy and have a good root ball and not one that is root bound. You should be able to take the plant out of the pot easily, if it won’t come out then you can be certain it’s root bound. Even if it does come out easily, check that the roots aren’t tightly massed together. It’s far easier to grow a healthy plant then a sick one.

Sometimes we can’t help but purchase root bound plants. Maybe it’s the only one they had and you really wanted it, or maybe you forgot to check at the garden center. Whatever the reason, you will need to carefully break up the roots so that they don’t strangle each other when planted. Sometimes you will need to get harsh and cut a whole heap off. If this is the case then you will need to trim back the plant as well so that it can overcome the shock of losing half it’s roots easier.

Digging The Hole:

You will now need to dig holes for the plants, make sure that they are big enough to hold the root system. The plant should not be placed in the hole too deeply. Back fill with soil slightly if this is the case. The shrub should not be planted too shallow either, ideally the soil level should be just above the top roots.

Once you have planted the shrub and filled the whole with soil, tamp it down slightly to remove any air pockets. After planting, the shrub should be well watered.

Fertilizing Your Plants:

Shrubs, just like most trees, don’t like to be over fertilized. Once established it will then be necessary to feed them. Continue this feeding for the first few years of their lifespan. Each shrub might require a different type or amount of fertilizer, this information should be available on either the tag supplied or from your garden center.

After a few years and the shrubs are more mature, you will be able to reduce the amount of fertilizer supplied. However, it won’t harm the shrubs to add a yearly supply of compost or old manure.

For more information on manure and compost click on this link

Mulching Your Plants:

It is also important to mulch your plants each year to prevent too many weeds from developing and competing for nutrients, as well as helping to hold moisture in the ground during hot weather.

I can’t over emphasis the need for using a good quality mulch. Some mulches, such as pine or wood chips can deplete nitrogen levels from the soil and cause the plant to stunt in size.

In a further article I will be discussing different types of shrubs available, in particular those that are popular with most gardeners and are easy to grow.

If you liked this article you may also like to take a look at another blog, click here

if you wish to make a comment please do so below.

Happy Gardening. Jim

Jim Kulk


  1. Hi Jim- So glad I arrived here today as I love gardening and it’s always great to connect with other passionate gardeners.

    Often people make a hole to plant a shrub but don’t dig it big enough or wide enough and the poor shrub feels locked in with nowhere to grow and reading through this makes me smile as you have shared some really great information to help people and I have bookmarked your site so I continue to visit regularly

    Thanks Jim

    • Thank you Vicki. I look forward to future comments from you. Enjoy your gardening. Jim

  2. Hello Jim, this is a very awesome post, I wasn’t really thinking of getting a garden, just a little container flowers at the front of my corridor but I think I should try out a garden and now I know all about shrubs. This is going to be very helpful for me. Do you know

  3. This was very informative and had lot’s of good information that I didn’t have knowledge of before. I have never checked the pH levels of my soil when planting trees or shrubs. I’ll need to start doing this. Thank you for this advice. I’ve also simply planted the root bound plants that I’ve gotten and not trimmed the roots first. That makes a lot of sense, and I’ll practice this also. I only have one question. How many times a year are you supposed to fertilize trees, or does it depend on what tree you’re planting?

    • Hi April.Thanks for reading my blog. I would only fertilizer your trees once a year with a fertilizer that suits the species. Each can be different. Make sure you only lightly fertilize them, shrubs and trees really don’t require much.Jim

  4. This is especially helpful for gardens located on sloping or hilly landscapes, I’ve been thinking of planting a Native shrubs as it doesn’t require much stress and requires less maintenance, a higher chance your shrubs will survive and less strain on vital environmental resources. Coming across this article has hasten my desire in planting one as soon as possible. Thanks.

    • Hi seun. Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you enjoy planting some native shrubs. Jim

  5. Once again, I have gain learning because of your thorough explanation about plants, and this time shrubs. Having this placed strategically in your garden could really make it more pleasant to look at. My mother has flowering shrubs planted in front of her house which kinda serves like a fence. She’s got varieties of local jasmine, lady of the night, and hibiscus. Lady of the night is really fragrant that’s why she likes it a lot when neighbors pass by at night and complementing her for the shrub. I guess her soil is good because her flowers are pretty vibrant but after reading your article I think its PH still needed be checked somehow just to keep it well balanced and healthy for her shrubs. As for mulching which has to be done every year, I don’t really know how to do it. Should we just put the wood chips with the soil? Thanks for another worthwhile read!

    • Hi. Thanks for reading my article. I don’t actually use woodchips as a mulch, I prefer to use materials that breakdown quicker. Try using hay, cane mulch or compost. Jim

  6. Hello Jim, I have always found gardening interesting, I especially like coming to your website, I always find something interesting here, I have been interested in gardening ever since my granddad used to take me round his garden showing me how to plant seeds etc, I don’t think my granddad would have known anything about ph levels in the soil back then, it has been quite a while ago, in fact, I’m 57 now, so you can just imagine how long ago it’s been, anyway Jim, thank you for sharing, I always find your posts interesting.


    • Thanks Russ. It’s funny how gardening often reminds us of our parents or grandparents. I’m glad that it brought back memories for you. Jim

  7. Dear Jim,

    Being a beginner to gardening your post means a lot to me. I absolutely love what I read in this insightful post because it is full of valuable information.

    I got great insights about Shrubs and I am going to plant it in my garden. Mature shrubs are the one I am interested in and it will save a lot of time, effort, and work.

    Tips on increasing the PH level using Dolomite or lime is an eye-opener for me and also on decreasing it using iron chelates.

    From digging the hole, checking PH level, Adding fertilizers, and Mulching you covered everything. Every single time I read a post of yours I learn so much new stuff!

    Happy Gardening!


    • Thanks Paul. I’m grateful that you keep coming back to read more of my articles my friend. Happy gardening. Jim

  8. Hi , your post is educating as I learnt a lot on what to do to make my shrub to  survive, with this point on digging a hole that will allow root spread and the knowing the pH level for it is very helpful, I have been wanting to start a garden but to start it has been difficult but your post have make easy for any  to able to start it.

    • Hi. Now there’s nothing stopping you from starting that garden. All the best. Jim

  9. Hi Jim,

    Great work, thanks for yet another informative post.

    I normally would not have thought that it is so important to consider how the shape and size of an all grown shrub would affect overall garden design, and how those shrubs would fill (or fail to fill) up the spaces left. Now I know better. 

    My experience has never been good with growing seedlings in a nursery and the whole process of transplanting them and be able to keep them alive. That’s why I also would prefer buying young shrubs that will immediately mature up. I’ve never bought a pH kit, though, and would appreciate some recommendations.

    Boniface- AndroidBix 

    • Hi Boniface. If you keep an eye on my future blogs I will be placing links to a ph kit. Jim

  10. Thank you. I never knew very much about shrubs. So it is interesting to learn about them.

    That’s sad about the plants roots getting all tangled together when they don’t have enough room. I think that has happened to my poor indoor plants Due to their small planters. Any tips on how to help them?

    I thought it was interesting what you said about the pH of the soil. I never knew that before either. Thanks for your website and take care.

    • Hi Jen. I’d take the plants out of their containers. cut the roots and foliage back by half and plant them in containers the next size up. Make sure you use good fresh potting mix and soak the plants with a liquid seaweed mixture. Jim

  11. This was a great read, Jim. Chock full of tips for a novice gardener like me.

    I have been considering putting in a hedge of balsa wood around my patio and down the edge of our sidewalk.  Is really didn’t have any idea of how deep to put them. I say that because every time I plant something I don’t plant it deep enough.

    This post is going to be a great help to ensure I get it right this time. So, thanks and consider your site bookmarked for future reference.


  12. Jim great post about schrubs. My dad quite the gardener taught me a fair amount of different types of planta to use and considering the height of the plant and proper spacing when conceiving the layout of the garden. One thing he never mentioned that you touched upon is testing Ph level of the soil. Do you have any tests in particular that you recommend or any links to preferred tests.

  13. Hello, very informative article with a proper explanation of how to prepare the soil and how to dig a hole in the right way.

    I like gardening, and I have three azaleas shrubs planted on the side of the house. Also, I have a jasmine shrub which I like most because it smells lovely in the springtime. I agree with you about the mulch preparation and soil PH level. It is vital to know what kind of soil shrubs love: more acidic or less acidic.

    I like flowers too, and I want to plant them close to the bushes. How do you think: is it a good idea to plant close to shrubs or just put mulch around them?

    • Hi. I would be more worried about the Roses then the shrubs. Roses are better planted where they can get good air flow all around. This helps to prevent disease. Jim

  14. Great article.  We just moved into our new home, me and my partner are not very green fingered and this advice is brilliant.  I am going to bookmark this page as we need all the advice and tips we can get.  Thats interesting regarding checking the ph levels of the soil.  Our problem is trying to control the weeds.  A nightmare

    • Hi Darren. Weeds are always a problem. The only real way to control them is to pull them out. Jim

  15. Thanks for such educating article. I have a very little knowing about planting shrubs. This post however have given me more insight of the process. I have a garden in my compound but I don’t really visit it often to see how its holding up, my wife and kids does it all the time. I sometimes feel useless when they all move to the garden. But next time I plan to plant a shrub on my own from the knowledge gotten from this article. Thanks Jim

    • Thank you Dane. I wish you much success in your shrub planting endeavors. Jim 

  16. Hey Jim,

    It is a highly informative article shrub, the garden, and shrubs role, mulching, pH-all that is required to have shrubs to be part of the garden.

    How often do you cut the shrubs? 

    What is the best time of the year you plant and cut the shrubs?

    I am not sure if I have missed these two in reading the article.

    Thank you for sharing a helpful blog.

    • Hi. The article was more about planting a shrub. Cutting them back will depend on the variety of shrub you plant. Each have their own characteristics, some need cutting back in summer, some spring etc., Planting is really the same, I will be adding a blog on some individual shrub types soon where this question will be answered. Thank Jim

  17. Hi, thanks for doing this article, I always wanted to plant any type of flower or tree but I couldn´t, but what you wrote today about what are shrubs really helps out anyone who has a garden and they want to decorate just a bit their garden, I think I´ll be sharing this with my friends so that they can check it out.

    • Hi Barbabra. Thank you for reading my blog, I’m glad that you enjoyed it enough to share with your friends. Jim

  18. I am enjoying this blog post of yours about shrubs as it reminds me of how I was arguing with my father about the supposed PH level of the ground where the shrubs should be planted. Being a person who don’t have much education, although my father is a very experienced man in farming and gardening, he doesn’t know about the relationship of the PH level of the soil and the health of the plants. I will open this blog post in a mobile device and show to him this article of yours. Thanks!

  19. Hi Jim 

    Thanks for sharing such an important and informative post on GRANDPA’S GREEN Thumb. It is really very essential article for all. You  wrote this quick article centered around the topic of what a shrub actually is.Shrubs are an integral path of any garden design.Shrubs can also the utilized as hedge plants . you also have shared that how to plant shrubs. 

    Thanks again. I’ll share this post with my friends and family. 

    • Thank you for reading my blog Monalisha. Also, thank you for sharing it with your friends. Jim

  20. Hi Jim, 

    Thanks for this article about shrubs, love all the photos you added which also provides a better imagination for my own garden or the garden of my family house. I read about the PH levels for the soil, and I wonder do you recommend any brand for a good kit to check the PH levels? I think you might give a great choice! 🙂

    Also for root-bound plants, I always have problems with them since I don’t realize I need to break up the roots as you mention in the article to prevent them strangle each other. I will take note for future gardening.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing!


    • Thank you for reading the article Matt. I had intended to add a link to a Ph kit in the article. I’ll get onto at soon as possible. Thanks for pointing it out. Jim

  21. Hello, gardening has been very fascinating to me right from young. I just love the end result of gardening and when the plants bloom to full maturity. Though I still engage in gardening in seasoned  occasions. It feels good to know about this PH level because it would be very helpful when I’m restarting my garden again. I picked a couple of helpful tips through this post.

  22. You have integrate me to the new concept which i dont have the knowledge before but your post is an eye opener for me.as i am not really thinking of getting a garden, just a little container
    flowers at the front of my corridor but I think I should try out a
    garden and now I know all about shrubs. This already liberate me

    • Thank you John. I’m glad that you have become inspired to build a garden. Jim

  23. Superb survey. I don’t have much experience in developing seedlings in a nursery and the entire procedure of transplanting them and still have the option to keep them alive. In any case, with this educative post I’ve taken in a great deal on what to do to make my shrub to survive, with this point on burrowing an opening that will permit root spread and the realizing the pH level for it is extremely useful. Helpful data for an amateur cultivator, much appreciated.

  24. Your suggestion yo use the shrubs as fillers around trees or as backgrounds in borders is such a great idea. We have planted some tress that look sort of bare. I think the shrubs around it will add some life to the tree. Through I hear if you plant anything around the trees, the roots will suck up all the shrub’s water and lead it to dry out. How true is that?

    Thank you for the steps in planting a shrub. You were very elaborate and I already feel like an expert.

    Thank you for this very valuable article.

    • Hi Carol. It depends on what sort of trees you have planted.but it’s normal, even in nature, for most trees to be surrounded by shrubs . Jim

  25. Lovely! I can say few things from this post. I will like to add to the “How to Plant a Shrub” point; DON’T PLANT IN ROWS When you come to place your new shrubs in beds, obviously those that will grow taller should be at the back, but one shouldn’t make the mistake of planting three rows – tall at the back, then medium in the middle, and small in front. This will help create a more natural arrangement by planting some taller plants near the front, most especially if they are narrow accents, and push some lower plantings further back (my opinion though).

    Overall, Awesome write-up.


    • Hi Jordan. Yes, once you understand landscaping better it’s fine to place the occasional tree in front. But I wouldn’t suggest this for smaller garden edges . Jim

  26. Great work.
    I would never had thought that it is so important to consider
    how the shape and size of an all grown shrub would affect overall
    garden design, and how those shrubs would fill (or fail to fill) up the
    spaces left. That must be were been going wrong overt the years
    As I have never been good with growing seedlings along with the whole process of transplanting them and be able to keep them alive. That’s why I would prefer buying young shrubs that will hopefully mature up by them selves!! I’ve never purchased a pH kit, should look into that

    Again Thanks for showing me where I have been going wrong


  27. WOW!!! excellent article about what shrubs is,I salute your prowess in writing this,you explained the A-Z means of planting shrubs to survive,and to make a garden beautiful,about adding fertilizer to a land if its lack adequate nutrients,I prefer to use organic fertilizer,I learn from your write-up that choosing the shrubs to buy and plant in my garden, I should be certain they are healthy and have a good root ball and not one that is root bound.Very educative article,thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you. It’s great to see that you learnt something from my article. Jim

  28. I’m so glad I found your article! 

    I am in the process of replacing some landscaping shrubs for a few areas on my property. Most of the plants and shrubs I had to remove were either unhealthy or almost dead. I was told a professional landscaper selected and planted all the unhealthy shrubs and plants so I’m fairly certain they were put in the ground and cared for correctly. I hadn’t thought to check the pH of the soil though – this might just be the problem (fingers crossed). 

    Thanks so much for your tips!

    • Thanks fir reading my post Shan. Even professional landscapers can get it wrong sometimes, it may have been something as simple as the pH. Jim

  29. WOW!!! Its amazing reading your article,I got many things for practicality purposes,I learned from your post that shrubs could be used as hedge plants. There are literally hundreds of different plants available for every climatic and landscaping condition.I love to plant flowers for garden beautification,and deciding on the shrubs to plant in my garden, must be certain they are healthy and have a good root ball and not one that is root bound,thank for this educative post.

  30. My dad had a green thumb but unfortunately did not pass onto to me or my kids. But the way you have written on how plant bulbs and such makes me want to make a garden. But the only thing is I get confused as to which bulb should be planted around which season. 

    Checking ph levels is something, never saw my Dad ever doing that. I’ve heard of checking soil when building but when planting a garden. 

    • Hi Eric. Having the incorrect Oh levels in your soul can be the catalyst to many issues with your plants. All the best. Jim

  31. Thanks so much for this information about shrubs! You’ve got a beautiful collection featured!! I was wondering if you also have any advice to figure out how to check the pH of the soil?? Does an average yard typically have all the same pH, or would it be vastly different depending on the area tested? I’d definitely like to change up the landscaping at my house and this has been great inspiration.

    • Hi Aly I will go back to my post and include a link to a simple pH test kit. I’ve had many people ask the same question. Jim

  32. Hi Jim

    It’s always nice to come to your website to learn more about gardening,

    As I’ New to it, I’m always looking for more information to learn about plants names and how to instructions.

    A yard work is an never ending job but it’s a pleasant job to do and more when you live in Canada, at the moment my husband and I use to talk about the end of Summer and how to take care of most of the plants as the weather start to change.

    We had a warm Summer here and all our plants grew beautifully, I would love to know what should I do to protect my plants for the coming Winter.

    Do Shrubs need to be protected during the long and cold winter weather here in Canada?

    • Hi. Thanks for reading my blog. I know that the weather in Canada can be pretty harsh. If you’re in an area that gets below freezing you would be better off to look at shrubs that a specialized for this sort of weather. They would be deciduous . The best thing to do would be to talk to your local garden center expert. He can help you with plants that suit your area. Jim

  33. Thanks for carefully educating me on what shrubs are. I have always wanted to know more about plants and flowers because there are so many of them and they can all beautiful. This is a really amazing post that has not just make me know a lot about the shrub but has also taught me how they are planted with a step by step guide, with various lessons on why and where they are planted. Thanks for this value adding knowledge.

    • Thank you Willie for the positive feedback on my article. I appreciate you reading it. Thanks Jim

  34. Very informative article Jim. Looks like you are a professional at this? Weldone!

    I love having green plants around my home. Be it flowering plants, fruit trees or plants, veggies and the likes. I love the freshness they bring. I don’t exactly know the names of most shrubs used in decorating or designing. i hope that as i read more of your articles, i would get more information on their names.

    Thanks again, i really enjoyed reading.

    • Thank you for reading my blog Mariam keep an eye open for my next blog it will describe some great plants. Jim

  35. My wife is more the gardener then I and she will appreciate this informative article as much as I enjoyed it. We add new plants and make changes to our garden spaces every season. This article on shrubs is very helpful for getting our thoughts on designing and positioning things before we plant or even go shopping for plants. Glad I found your website and will be sharing it with my wife. Cheers!

  36. Hi Jim,

    Some great tips in how to plant shrubs. I’m going looking for some this weekend and didn’t have a clie about what to feed them or how deep to dig the hole! Now I know.

    Just wondering, are there different types of shrubs depending on the season?

    Thanks for this article, I’ll be back for more tips soon!!


  37. I always have trouble with my mulching floating way.  I live in Louisiana where we frequently get an inch or two of rain at a time.  Do you have any suggestions on keeping my mulch in the beds?  Also, regarding the information on making sure you pick the right spot for your trees – I can definitely identify with that!  I planted crape myrtles too close to my house and you cannot get rid of those roots!  Massive and invasive.  Should have never planted them that close to the house.  We just rebuilt our house have the flood and I’m in the process of figuring out what to plant so I enjoyed your article.  Thanks!

    • Hi Monica. I understand all about floods. We suffer them as well. If your mulch us.flistinf away then the only thing I can suggest is that you buy a heavier type such as bark or wood chips. Jim

  38. Once again an informative article about the shrubs. my knowledge about that was literally ZERO! I honestly didn’t know about PH soil and I am glad to get better understanding about it. this soils PH testing kit would be a good choice as a gift to my grandmother who is really passionate about gardening and I am sure that she doesn’t even clue about the PH of soil nor she does the way testing the level of PH too. I now know the Rhododendron and Camellias shrubs are much more beautiful for my Grandmother’s garden as well. One thing that I am not sure about that is, if the Kit illustrates the level of acid containing in soil?I really apologize for this silly question! Either way, I keep an eye on less using the lime by Grandmother.

    Again,Thank you for your informative article.

    • Hi Shirin I will be adding a link soon to a pH testing kit. All the best. Jim

  39. This article was very educational. I had some idea that plants and naturally shrubs needed care. But I thought all I had to was take it out of the pot, dig a whole and plant it. However, there is a lot to consider to ensure the shrub survives and thrives. I didn’t know how important a role chemistry played, such as insuring the correct Ph levels.

    We live in a water shortage area and had a drought resistant garden installed. Our local government offered a free service that we took advantage of. Sadly, the people who did the work had no idea about gardening. The shrubs were planted too close and they were so many of them. They grew into each other and started dying. When we removed some shrubs to create space, we damaged the drip system because the roots were in the way. It’s a mess and I’ll need to do something about it. Have you worked with drought resistant shrubs?

    It looks like you are very knowledgeable about gardens Jim and are able to provide good advice to newbies.



    • Thank you Edwin. I’m pleased you enjoyed my article. Yes I have worked with drought resistant plants. Where I live fluctuates between dry and wet . Jim

  40. Hi! This is awesome information. I have three azalea bushes in front of my house. They get big and cover my window if I don’t trim them but they are worth it for the color in the spring. I was wondering if you have any tips or blogs about getting rid of unwanted shrubs. I have one at the side of my house that needs to go but I cut it down and it always grows back. Is there a short cut besides just digging out the roots? Or do I need to grab my shovel? Thanks!

    • Hi Ashton. The only real way to get rid of any shrub that grows from the roots is to dig it out and remove every part. Jim


  41. Hello Jim,

    Thank you for writing this informative article about shrubs. As a beginner in gardening I learned a lot about shrubs. Choosing a plant with a good root ball is something I haven’t paid much attention before. But I understand how it is important and helpful when maintaining the plant’s health. I will definitely keep that in mind the next time I am buying plants. 

    • Glad to hear it. It’s always important to make sure the plants you purchase are healthy. Thanks Jim

  42. Good article on how to successfully plant a shrub in your garden. I don’t have a typical garden but I have a few potted shrubs (flowering) on my back porch. I like to use small shrubs to practice bonsai training. They make wonderful practice trees. One could make a well designed garden with a little creativity. Good post, have a great weekend. 

    • Thank you for checking out my blog. Some shrubs are definitely good for constructing bonsai’s out of. Jim

  43. Jim just doing a quick run through of members websites. This should be titled ‘What Are Shrubs?’.

    What is shrubs is not grammatically correct.

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