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Public-images-osm logo.svg natural = shrubbery
Holiday Inn Express, Taunton. Car park shrubbery. - geograph.org.uk - 1829844.jpg
An area of shrubbery that is actively maintained or pruned by humans. A slightly wilder look is also possible. Edit or translate this description.
Group: Natural
Used on these elements
should not be used on nodesshould not be used on waysmay be used on areasshould not be used on relations
Useful combination
See also
Status: in usePage for proposal

The tag natural=shrubbery is used to map areas of shrubs, bush and shrubbery that is manicured or otherwise actively maintained (e.g. clipped box hedges or decorative shrubbery). These shrubbery areas typically fulfill ornamental roles, or are used as barrier areas between urban features such as roads and recreation areas. Shrubbery may also be planted and maintained by humans but kept more wildly (see examples below). This in contrast to natural=scrub which is intended for wild scrublands with no human intervention.

This tag has been proposed twice — as this natural=shrubbery and as an extension of natural=scrub — but was rejected for a variety of reasons. However, its usage continues to grow organically as an alternative for natural=scrub for mapping manicured and maintained shrubbery. The proposal summary provides an in-depth explanation of the various standpoints, and why no single proposal is likely to succeed for this topic.

How to tag

Draw an area area and tag it with natural=shrubbery. Any additional tags are optional. Note that area=yes is not needed because natural=shrubbery is an area by definition, and should only be tagged on areas area.

Due to the current lack of rendering in the standard tile layer, some mappers prefer using natural=scrub for both shrubberies and wild scrubland. See the documentation of natural=scrub for further details. See Rendering for render support for the various OSM based maps.

Additional tags

The mapped area of shrubbery can be further detailed with multiple tags as explained below.

Effective density

While natural=shrubbery should be considered an impassable object for most traffic unless a highway=* is mapped through it (unlike, say, a grass lawn), the effective density of these areas when mapped serves a number of purposes. For orienteering oneself using a map, this detail can be useful, and may be employed by renderers to highlight it. shrubbery:density=dense in particular is useful to indicate that a natural=shrubbery area acts as a hedge.

Note that the following descriptions are (of course) just a rule of thumb for a rough, general categorisation. Mappers should not barge through shrubberies to figure out its density.

Value Definition
sparse Sparsely planted shrubbery. Generally speaking able-bodied persons could walk through them (although this is usually not desirable).
medium Shrubbery with a medium density. Able-bodied persons might be able to barge through it, but it takes some effort and might result in scratches or soiled clothing.
dense Densely planted shrubbery. Effectively impassible without damaging the shrubbery (which at this point often acts as a hedge) and getting your clothes torn.

This table is a wiki template with a default description in English. Editable here.

Plant-life and shape tags

Shrubberies can be enriched with the usual plant-life tags such as genus=*, species=* and leaf_type=*, similar to natural=scrub.

height=* can be added to all shrubby areas as well; it may be particularly useful for hedges which act like a barrier.

For natural=shrubbery which fall in the category of a neatly clipped hedge or a topiary on Wikipedia, shrubbery:shape=* can be used to indicate its shape. For a typical box-hedge this will be a basic shrubbery:shape=box, but any fanciful shape one might prune a topiary into can be described (e.g., shrubbery:shape=dragon or shrubbery:shape=spiral).


Before natural=shrubbery the tagging of hedges (i.e., dense shrubby areas that act as a physical (and often visual) barrier) as an area was often done with barrier=hedge together with area=yes. Because this practice is deemed controversial[1], the shrubbery:density=* key was developed as way to mark the effective density of a shrubby area. For hedges a combination of natural=shrubbery with shrubbery:density=dense and height=* can be used a replacement.

This use of natural=shrubbery can also be combined with shrubbery:shape=* — e.g., shrubbery:shape=box for a box hedge.

For hedges mapped as a linear feature, use barrier=hedge.

When not to use

  • For wild scrublands, use the tag natural=scrub. If some overgrown branches of the shrubs in a scrubland are sometimes trimmed to keep for example a road clear, still use the tag natural=scrub.
  • For individual bushes, use the tag natural=shrub on a node node
  • For linear hedges that are too small to be mapped as an area, use barrier=hedge.


Below, some examples of natural=shrubbery are illustrated.

natural=shrubbery (an example of shrubbery:density=dense)
Shrubbery with trees..jpg natural=shrubbery (an example of shrubbery:density=medium)
natural=shrubbery (an example of shrubbery:density=sparse)
Shrubbery in a park.jpg This is a patch of natural=shrubbery in a park (an example of shrubbery:density=medium)

And a few examples of natural features that are not shrubbery.

Starr 010831-0015 Morella faya.jpg This is natural=scrub
Bloeiende heide. Locatie, Schaopedobbe (Schapenpoel) 07.jpg This is a clear example of natural=heath
Maasheggen bij oeffelt 2.jpg This is natural=scrub. Even though some overgrowth is sometimes trimmed away to keep the road clear [2].
Scrub groundcover.jpg
These are natural=scrub or natural=wood/ landuse=forest despite that it is located in a park and sporadic trimmed to keep paths clear.

Editing with JOSM

In JOSM the Map Paint Style Greenery details can be used to visualize this tag and the values of the shrubbery:density=* and height=* tags:

Sample of the Greenery Details Map Paint Style in JOSM. These shrubbery:density=dense areas of natural=shrubbery are rendered with a suitable pattern.

A matching Preset (Greenery) is available as well:

Sample use of the Greenery preset in JOSM. shrubbery:density=dense is selected.


This tag is currently supported by various renderers. A proposed change to add this feature to OSM Carto was rejected in June 2022.