Whether you’re planting more shrubs into your front yard landscape or putting in a new shrub bed, getting low maintenance shrubs are a must in today’s packed schedules and busy homes. Low maintenance shrubs are beautiful options that require very little shaping or pruning, bloom reliably, are disease and pest resistant, and do well in different growing conditions. Some offer colorful blooms while others are evergreen and offer year-round color and interest.
No matter if you’re a veteran floriculturist or a brand new gardener, having low maintenance shrubs can be a key to making your landscape work. They’re an easy way to give your landscape a facelift, and you can place them anywhere you need to fill in space. If you’re wondering what the best low maintenance shrubs are, this is for you. We’ve rounded up a host of options that you can incorporate into your landscape design and enjoy how they make your yard look.
1. Dwarf Korean Lilac (Syringa meyeri ‘Palibin’)
This low maintenance shrub is hardy to -40°F, and it’s a deciduous variety. This plant has a maximum height of four to five feet, and it’ll spread out between five and seven feet with the proper growing conditions. You’ll get gorgeous flowers in purple to pale pink that bloom in April, May, and June. Also, these flowers are very fragrant and attract pollinators like butterflies and hummingbirds.
If you want tons of flowers, plant this low maintenance shrub in full sun. It does tolerate being planted in partial shade too. Anyone who wants to prune it should do so after it flowers, but this isn’t a requirement for plant health. Deadheading the dying flowers keeps it looking neat and tidy. It has a rounded shape and is very compact, and it grows very slowly. You can’t find it growing in the wild, but it’s popular in gardens throughout China.
Dwarf Korean Lilac by Lilbenne / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
2. Weigela (Weigela Florida)
Weigela is a long-lasting shrub that is native to China. This is another deciduous shrub, and it’s hardy to -30°F without issues. This low maintenance shrub is well-known for how well it blooms, and it can get between 6 and 10-feet high with a 9 to 12-foot spread in the right planting conditions. This plant will produce bright pink flowers in a tubular shape, and it’s an excellent attractant for hummingbirds.
As soon as the plant finishes flowering from April to June, you can prune it back. Planting it in an area that gets full sun is the best, but it can also tolerate light shade. This low maintenance shrub is very disease and pest-free, and you can get cultivars with variegated or wine-red foliage to help it stand out more. It has an arching growth habit, and you can get more compact varieties for tighter spaces.
Weigela by Jocelyn Erskine-Kellie / CC BY-SA 2.0
3. Summersweet Clethra (Clethra Alnifolia)
Native to the Eastern United States, this low maintenance shrub is hardy to -30°F. It has a slightly more compact growth habit as it only gets between six and eight feet tall with a four to six foot spread at full maturity. It offers slender and upright panicles of pink to white flowers that bloom in July and continue on through August. If you decide you need to prune it to shape it, you’ll want to wait until the late winter months to do so.
This low maintenance shrub does best when you plant it in full sun to partial shade. It can also tolerate average to wet soil without rotting. The dense branches on this shrub get smothered in blooms that attract bees and butterflies at the end of summer. If you need summer color, it’s a great choice to plant in a more shaded area of your yard.
Summersweet by Katja Schulz / CC BY 2.0
4. Ozark or Vernal Witch Hazel (Hamamelis Vernalis)
Witch Hazel is a type of low maintenance shrub that offers hybrids and different species to choose from when you shop, and each of them bloom at a different time. Vernal witch hazel will bloom during a time that many plants won’t be in areas that get winter weather, and you’ll see flowers from mid-January to mid-March. They’re also native to North America, and you’ll get a very spicy and strong fragrance with the blooms.
The flowers on this low maintenance shrub are bright yellow, and they have very thin, thread-like petals that stand out in sharp contrast to the foliage. The foliage changes color in the fall too, and they can survive temperatures down to -30°F. They’ll get between 6 and 10-feet tall in the right conditions, but they usually don’t spread out a huge amount. They also don’t have extremely dense foliage.
Hamamelis vernalis (Ozark Witch-hazel) by Plant Image Library / CC BY-SA 2.0
5. Smokebush (Cotinus Coggygria)
This is a whimsical low maintenance shrub that is hardy down to -20°F. It can get between 10 and 15-feet tall by 10 to 15-feet wide, so you will have to plan accordingly when you plant this shrub to ensure it doesn’t take over close plants. You’ll get wispy clusters of yellow or pink flowers that turn into fluff when they’re spent, and they resemble smoke. The flowers appear in May and will go until July with a frothy appearance. You can get these shrubs with wine-red or bluish-green coloring on the foliage.
You’ll want to plant this low maintenance shrub in full to partial sun. The more sun it can get, the better off you are. This plant can be resistant to deer, but you do want to avoid planting it in poorly drained soils to avoid problems. Make a point to lightly prune it as needed in early spring. It’s native to Asia and Europe.
Smokebush by John Tann / CC BY 2.0
6. Japanese Spirea (Spiraea Japonica)
Hailing from Asia, this low maintenance shrub can survive temperatures that dip to -40°F. It has a maximum height range of four to six feet, and it’ll spread between five and seven feet. In June and July, it’ll give you a show of flat-topped pink blooms that form in tight clusters, and these flowers will attract butterflies, bees, and other pollinators to the yard. You can prune Spirea in late winter to early spring, and it’s okay to cut this shrub back to the ground every few years.
Cutting the low maintenance shrub back this far will allow the plant to keep its form when it comes back. There are regular and compact varieties available, and you want to plant it in an area that gets full sun. It won’t bloom as well in shady conditions, and the soil should drain very well. Water it regularly when you first plant it. Once it establishes itself, it’s very tolerant to drought.
Japanese Spiraea by beautifulcataya / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
7. Virginia Sweetspire (Itea Virginica)
Virginia Sweetspire comes from Eastern North America, and this low maintenance shrub is hardy to -20°F. It’s on the smaller side, and it tops out between three and five feet tall and three and five feet wide. It’ll start to bloom in early May and go through June, and this plant produces pretty draping white blooms that cover the plant. It likes to be in an area that gets full sun. It will bloom in partial shade, but you won’t get as many flowers if you plant it here.
Additionally, this low maintenance shrub prefers to have wetter soils. This makes it a great choice for a rain garden or a low-lying area in your yard. The flowers are very fragrant, and you’ll get a show in the fall months when the foliage turns a brilliant red color. You’ll get a rounded growth habit with it, and it produces arching branches. It has no pest or disease problems, and it resists deer grazing.
Virginia Sweetspire by Carol Foil / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
8. Inkberry Holly (Ilex Glabra)
This is an evergreen shrub that comes from North America, and it works very well when you plant it as a foundation plant. It produces glossy, deep green leaves that cling to the plant’s branches year round, and this adds points of visual interest if you live in an area that has harsh winter months. This low maintenance shrub offers nondescript blooms that give way to pretty dark blue berries in mid-summer that go until early fall. They will get between five and eight feet high and just as wide with the correct conditions.
This shrub does best when you plant it in full sun to partial shade. This is a very adaptable plant, and the plant will either be male or female. You’ll have to plant one male shrub for every five female shrubs to see the dark blue berries. You shouldn’t need to prune them unless you’re growing them as a hedge. But, if you do, it should happen in the very early spring months.
Inkberry (Ilex glabra) by John Brandauer / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
9. Rockspray Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster Horizontalis)
If you’re after a low maintenance shrub that is also very low growing, this pick is a great fit. It comes from Asia, and it can easily withstand temperatures when they dip to -20°F. It may only get two to three-feet high, but it does spread out up to twice that size, so you do have to space them out nicely when you plant them to prevent crowding. It will start to bloom in the early spring months, and the flowers will give way to very showy deep red berries that stand out against the foliage.
As a bonus, this is a widely adaptable plant that can survive poor soil and drought without damage, and this makes it great for novice gardeners. You won’t have to prune it much if at all, and it has a horizontal branching system. It’s semi-evergreen in southern planting zones, and the berries will attract birds. It does have issues with lace bugs, so you do have to keep an eye on it.
Dwarf Rockspray Cotoneaster by beautifulcataya / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
10. Bottlebrush Buckeye (Aesculus Parviflora)
If you’re not sure what to plant due to planting zones, this low maintenance shrub is a good fit for areas that don’t get below -20°F. You can use it as a stunning hedge plant or specimen, and it’ll spread between 8 and 15-feet wide. It tops out between 8 and 12-feet, so it spreads much more than it grows in height. You’ll get the best show from this plant in June and July when it produces upright spires of white flowers. They can get more than 12-inches long, and they’re very fragrant.
Since the flowers stick up above the foliage, they’re very eye-catching. The flowers can be followed by buckeyes, but this is rare. In the fall months, the foliage takes on a brilliant yellow hue. There are no common diseases or pests that bother this low maintenance shrub, and it’s preferred that you don’t prune it. If you do, do so just after the flowers vanish.
Aesculus parviflora (Bottlebrush Buckeye) by Plant Image Library / CC BY-SA 2.0
11. Chinese Paperbush (Edgeworthia Chrysantha)
If you’re looking for a low maintenance shrub that blooms wonderfully in the winter months, look no further. This shrub will give you bright yellow flowers that form in round clusters, and they like to bloom in February and continue on through April. It can reach a height of four to six feet, and it can spread up to six feet wide too. It likes to be in an area that gets either full sun or partial shade. It won’t do well in deep shade, and it’ll produce almost no flowers if you plant it here.
The showy winter flowers make this low maintenance shrub very desirable, but it’s only hard to a temperature of 0°F. Anything colder than this will do damage. You should keep it in a protected area where it gets some shade in the scorching summer temperatures or it’ll wilt. It’s native to Asia, and the flowers on this plant appear on bare stems. It does produce medium green leaves that look grey-green on the bottom.
Early Bloomer by John / CC BY-NC 2.0
12. Annabelle Hydrangea (Hydrangea Arborescens ‘Annabelle’)
Hydrangeas are deciduous low maintenance shrubs that are native to North America. This is one of the most reliable bloomers of the cultivar, and it can withstand temperatures that drop to -40°F. It’ll start to bloom in June and continue well into September, and you’ll get large foot-wide balls of white flowers. This color will fade to green or pink as it gets closer to the fall months, and the flowers bloom on new wood. So, this removes the worry about freezing.
If you want to prune this low maintenance shrub, do so in the early spring or late winter months. Cut it back to 12 to 18-inches above ground level to promote good form. It can easily tolerate both droughts and wet soil conditions, but it does need it to be slightly more acidic. It will only get between three and four feet high, but it can spread five to six feet. The plant will wilt if you put it in the full sun, so try to plant it in an area that gets partial shade.
Hydrangea Annabelle by Mark / CC BY 2.0
13. Maejima Daphne (Daphne Odora ‘Maejima’)
Daphne’s offer a gorgeous fragrance, and this low maintenance shrub doesn’t disappoint in this department. You can get pretty semi-dwarf cultivars to help fill in any small spaces in your yard. You’ll see variegated foliage with rosey pink flower clusters. These flowers are especially striking since they like to bloom in the cooler winter months. It’s very reliable when it comes to blooming, and it’s an evergreen plant that will give you a nice visual interest all year round.
However, this low-maintenance shrub does best in warm climates because it can’t stand temperatures that drop below 0°F. It’s native to Asia and Europe, and it’ll get only three feet high. You won’t have to prune this plant to keep it healthy, and it tolerates a range of soil conditions. It also likes full sun to partial shade, but it can’t stand deep shade.
Daphne ‘Mae-jima’ by Megan Hansen / CC BY-SA 2.0
14. Beautyberry (Callicarpa Americana)
Anyone who is trying to naturally repel ticks should have this low maintenance shrub in their landscape design. Beautyberry is a pest-free choice, and it gives you a very nice arching form that doesn’t require you to prune it to keep it neat. It’s native to the United States, and it can withstand temperatures down to -20°F. This plant will grow between three and six feet tall and three to six feet wide. So, you should space them at least three feet apart when you plant them, if not more.
You’ll get small pink flowers on this low maintenance shrub, and the flowers get followed by a show of bright purple berries. These berries stick around well into the winter months, and they’re a great attractant for birds. It does best in partial shade to full sun, and it can die back to the ground in the winter in northern climates. However, it’ll flower in the same season because the berries and flowers grow on new wood. You can prune in early spring, but this isn’t a requirement.
Beautyberry by Vicki DeLoach / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
15. Possumhaw (Viburnum Nudum)
To get fall or winter interest with your low maintenance shrubs, try Possumhaw. This is a deciduous shrub that will start to bloom in early April and go into May. It also has beautiful berries in the fall that range in color from light pink to deep blue, and you can have both colors appear at the same time on the same shrub. It attracts various pollinators and birds to the area, and it does best when you plant it in an area that gets partial shade to full sun.
It can survive temperatures that dip as low as -20°F without a problem. This low maintenance shrub will grow between 5 and 12-feet tall, and it can spread out up to 12-feet. You won’t have to prune it to keep it happy, and it has very few pests or diseases. If you plant multiple shrubs, you’ll get more berries each fall than you would with a single plant. It’s native to the Eastern portion of the United States.
Possumhaw by Gary Bowers / CC BY-NC 2.0
16. Goldthread Cypress (Chamaecyparis Pisifera ‘Filifera Aurea’)
You’ll find these low maintenance shrubs used a lot in modern landscape design. You’ll get bright green-yellow needles that give you visual interest all year long, and it can survive temperatures as low as -30°F. This is a semi-dwarf evergreen shrub that offers a natural and eye-catching cone shape. However, it’s a very slow-growing cultivar, and it gives you weeping, thread-like branches all year round. You can also prune this shrub to keep it much more compact and contained.
Unlike the parent species that can get 50-feet tall, this one maxes out at 15 to 20-feet, unless you prune it. This low maintenance shrub does best when you plant it in an area that gets full sun, but it can tolerate a little shade without any issues. It will have more sparse growth with shade. You won’t have to prune this shrub due to the natural growth habit.
Chamaecyparis Pisifera ‘Filifera Aurea’ by FarOutFlora / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
17. Common Heather (Calluna Vulgaris)
Common Heather is a low maintenance shrub that is classified as an evergreen perennial. So, it’ll keep the green foliage all year round, and it comes with white or purple flowers in the spring through the summer months. It has a high adaptability factor if you plant it in acidic soil, and it can tolerate most poor soils without any damage as long as they drain well. The flowers will attract pollinators like bees and butterflies to your yard in the early spring months.
This low maintenance shrub is best planted outdoors in zones four to six. You should put it in an area that gets full sun, but it can also survive partial shade without an issue. You don’t want to prune this shrub because it can negatively impact the natural growth pattern. It can tolerate sea spray and is resistant to deer, and this is why it’s popular in coastal gardens.
Common Heather by Jonas Tana / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
18. Shrub Roses (Rosa Species and Cultivars)
There are several types of shrub roses that fall into the classification of low maintenance shrubs. They usually get between three and four feet high at the most and spread out just as wide. They give you non-stop blooms all season long, and this makes them a very attractive ornamental choice. Knockout roses are one of the most popular options available, and they’re very hardy and easy to care for when you plant them.
Most of these low maintenance shrubs are disease and pest-resistant, and they start to bloom in the early summer months. These types of roses prefer to be in full sun, but some cultivars need less than three to four hours of sunlight a day. You can prune them in the spring, but it’s also a good idea to remove any spent flowers throughout the blooming period to encourage new flower growth.
Knockout Pink Double Rose by Jim, the Photographer / CC BY 2.0
19. Rhododendron ‘Stewartstonian’ (Gable Hybrids)
The final low maintenance shrub on our list offers a very vibrant and bold orange-red flower that will bloom in April or May each year. It’s a broadleaf evergreen shrub that offers visual interest in the colder months too, and it can get between four and five feet tall with a similar spread. It grows best planted in zones five to eight, and it originally comes from either Japan or Korea. This is a hybrid plant.
You can plant this low maintenance shrub in full sun to part shade without a problem. Additionally, it does well in fertile soil that you keep evenly moist. However, it should drain well and keep the pH levels between 5.0 and 5.5. You can grow it in container gardens or flower beds without a problem, and you’ll get medium-green leaves to offset the brilliant flowers.
Azalea in Flame by Melinda Young Stuart / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
These 19 low maintenance shrubs can easily brighten up any landscape, and they’re excellent for beginner or veteran gardeners. Most of them require no pruning, and they’re not too picky about soil requirements. This allows you to plant them and sit back and enjoy with minimal work. Add a few to your landscape and see how they improve your overall design and the look of your yard this year.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.