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7 of the Best Shrubs For Utah Climate That Won’t Die On You

Utah’s unique climate is notorious for generating frustration among landscaping enthusiasts. The harsh winters and hot summers make it difficult to keep your yard looking healthy and beautiful. And most people don’t want to completely up-root their summer plants for new winter plants every single year. 

Best Shrubs for Northern Utah

Here are 7 of the best shrubs to grow in northern Utah:

  • Cliff Rose
  • Red Elderberry
  • Juniper
  • Greenleaf Manzanita
  • Boxwood
  • Euonymus
  • Double-Flowered Japanese Rose

Best Shrubs For Northern Utah

Fortunately, there are certain measures you can take to landscape successfully despite the unfavorable climate. In fact, there are certain shrubs for the Utah climate that actually do well in our weather conditions and provide great privacy for your yard. If you’re looking to add a little shrubbery to your landscaping, we’ve got your guide! Check out the list below to find out which shrubs will thrive and grow in your Utah garden and how to care for them.

1) Cliff Rose

Shrubs for Utah Climate: Cliffrose plant with yellow blooming flowers


Water: Very little to none

Soil: Rocky, well drained

Sun: Full sun

Pruning: Regularly, best time to do it is late winter or early spring.

Benefit: Attracts bees and hummingbirds.


The name speaks for itself; this plant can thrive in soils that are filled with rocks and can grow in high altitudes, making it one of the best shrubs for Utah climate.

This shrub belongs to the rose family. It grows well in Utah’s dry mesas and limestone canyons. You’ll see hints of red, peeling bark, and green leaves with white undersides.

You can enjoy the Cliffrose blooming flowers in mid-spring through summer. And, if Utah happens to have a fairly wet and rainy summer, you might get lucky and see a second bloom! 

And the best part? 

The flowers smell amazing and will fill your entire yard with a lovely floral sent.

This shrub is great for your yard because the flowers from it will attract bees and butterflies to help pollinate the other plants in your yard as well.

Keep in mind that Cliffrose shrubs can grow up to 8-feet tall, so plan wisely when you plant these.


2) Red Elderberry

Red Elderberries with large green leaves is the best shrub for northern Utah


Water: Moderate

Soil: Moist, well drained

Sun: Full to partial

Pruning: Moderate

Benefit: Provides fruit (only eat after it’s been cooked)


This shrub belongs to the huckleberry family. It is a perennial shrub that blooms tiny white flowers in May and June. It occurs naturally in Utah in rocky woods and ravines, which makes it a great shrub for Utah climate.

The elderberry shrub can grow between 7-20 ft tall. But luckily, it has soft stems, so trimming it down isn’t a hard task.

The flowers of this plant will attract butterflies and hummingbirds which is an added benefit to your yard. You’ll be able to enjoy the beautiful white flowers when they bloom in May and June.

Keep in mind, these berries can make you sick if you eat them raw, but if you cook them, they are perfectly safe to eat and can make delicious jam spreads or syrups.


3) Juniper

Small Juniper tree in a front yard surrounded by other foliage


Water: Water during dry spells when the shrub is young. After 2 years, it will be fine to make due with the rainfall.

Soil: Any type that can be well drained

Sun: Full sun to light shade

Pruning: None

Benefit: Provides great shelter and food for wildlife


Juniper trees are a part of the evergreen species, meaning they stay a lovely green color all year round!

Juniper is also a great shrub option if you want your yard smelling amazing. The juniper plant has that amazing pine smell that will make you feel as if you’re walking through the forest right in your own front yard.

You can choose from a variety of juniper shrub options depending on the aesthetic you’re working towards. Some of these options include the blue star, mint julep, coast juniper, and old gold juniper shrubs.

Juniper is also great to decorate for the holidays. During Halloween you can string spooky spider webs across them and during Christmas, you can add a few lights to make your yard look extra festive.

These plants are extremely sturdy and can handle harsh weather like a champ making Junipers an ideal Utah shrub.


4) Greenleaf Manzanita

Arctostaphylos patula is a species of manzanita known by the common name greenleaf manzanita. This manzanita is native to western North America where it grows in coniferous forests at moderate to high elevations.


Water: Moderate

Soil: Moist, well drained

Sun: Full sun to light shade

Pruning: None

Benefit: Attracts different forms of wildlife


The Greenleaf Manzanita is commonly known as Arctostaphylos Patula. This perennial shrub occurs naturally in Utah forests and are among the best shrubs for landscaping in Northern Utah. It belongs to the heath family and reaches 6 feet in height with green leaves and a red/brown inner bark.

The Greenleaf Manzanita is great for Utah because it can handle the harsh winters. During the months of April-June, you can enjoy the beautiful pink blossoms that the plant produces. 

One of the great benefits of this shrub is the fact that it’s drought-tolerant, meaning it can handle those long, hot Utah summers that have rare rainfall.


5) Boxwood

 A row of Boxwood plants lining a path


Water: Moderate

Soil: Any type, provide good drainage

Sun: Full to partial

Pruning: Maintain by thinning rather than shearing

Benefit: Variety of shapes and sizes to choose from


Ideal for sculpting, boxwood shrubs are commonly used as the outliners for garden beds and paths. This shrub is a member of the Buxus family and features dark green leaves that retain their color well.

The special thing about boxwood is that it’s frost tolerant. So you won’t have to worry about them dying on you during the cold Utah winters. These are truly the best bushes for Utah weather.

Boxwood is a really fun shrub to play around with when it comes to landscaping and it comes in many different shapes and sizes. You can plant the small, round boxwood to line a walkway. Or, you could decorate your lawn with a taller xoxwood to provide a little more privacy for your home.

To get an idea for all the different types of boxwood, check out this blog. Boxwood is really fun to add variety to your front or back yard, not to mention, it handles Utah weather like a pro.


6) Euonymus

Variegated Boxleaf Euonymus - Monrovia - Variegated Boxleaf Euonymus


Water: Moderate

Soil: Well-drained

Sun: Full sun to light shade

Pruning: Moderate

Benefit: Deer resistant


Similar to Boxwood, euonymus has a variety of species, 175 to be exact. The euonymus shrub really shines during the autumn season when it takes on a beautiful vibrant red color.

Featuring mottled bark and winged fruits, this ornamental shrub makes a gorgeous addition to your garden and are great shrubs for Utah climate. It can climb as vines, form small trees, or create low-mounding shrubs. You’ll also notice the growth of showy foliage and white berries that add to the shrub’s beauty and unique appeal.

Keep in mind that while these shrubs can endure winter, they are still at risk for getting damaged from the cold. Be sure to take the extra steps to care for these plants and prep them for the colder weather.


7) Double-Flowered Japanese Rose

Best shrubs for Utah: The Double-Flowered Japanese Rose


Water: Moderate

Soil: Any well drained soil

Sun: Partial shade

Pruning: Moderate

Benefit: Flowers attract wildlife 


The Double-Flowered Japanese Rose is an amazing shrub to have all year round. This plant provides vibrant colors in every season and looks great on any lawn. Not to mention, it’s just one of those perfect shrubs for Utah’s four seasons.

In the spring, you’ll get bright and happy yellow flowers. The summer months will bring beautiful green foliage. In the fall, you can enjoy the beautiful autumn colors, while in the winter the green branches look beautiful against any snow fall.




Why These Types of Shrubs Are Best for Utah Homeowners

Living in Utah means certain plants don’t grow as well due to the climate or altitude. When you put plants in your yard that struggle to survive the Utah weather, you’re not doing yourself any favors and just creating more work for yourself in the long run. Often, they take more water than usual due to the dry climate which will rack up your utility bill and waste water. On top of that, they will likely die in the winter and you’ll have spent all that money on new shrubbery only to enjoy it for a short amount of time.

So lean into the landscape and climate of Utah and plant some shrubs that are able to handle the harsh weather. Grow to love different types of shrubbery; you’ll be surprised how beautiful your yard will look when you cover it with shrubs that can endure and thrive in Utah’s climate! 

You might also enjoy our post on tips for planning a flower bed!