Shrubs

The Best Low Maintenance Shrubs: Here’s Our Top Picks

Looking for some landscaping ideas for your yard? This guide unpacks the best low-maintenance shrubs for your garden this summer.
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Are you preparing your planting plans for the summer? Planting out a new flowerbed or rockery is a rewarding task for the gardener. However, tending to your garden during the growing season takes time. Many gardeners don’t have hours to spend in their backyard each weekend pruning and maintaining their plants.

If you don’t have much time to spend in the garden, but you want an attractive display in your flowerbeds, consider low-maintenance shrubs. These plants look fantastic, and they don’t require much care during the growing season.

Some shrubs will thrive in any growing conditions without the need for deadheading, dividing, and staking. Choosing low-maintenance varieties gives you disease-resistant plants, and no need for excessive watering, saving local resources.

This guide unpacks the best low-maintenance shrubs for your garden this summer.

Weigela

The weigela comes in several varieties. It offers the gardener some colorful leaves and tubular blossoms that bring pollinators into the yard.

The weigela is one of the most versatile and hard-working shrubs in the yard. It’s ideal for placement at the back of flowerbeds, lining the border. The smaller varieties also make excellent framing plants for walkways around the home.

Weigela
Weigela Guide: How to Grow & Care for These Shrubs

Pruning isn’t necessary with these shrubs, but if you do feel like giving them a trim, it’s a simple process. Just cut the plant back after it finishes flowering, and that’s it for the season. These shrubs aren’t picky about the soil or light conditions, and they are reasonably drought-resistant after establishing in the garden.

The plants are resistant to deer and rabbits, and they don’t get any disease if you plant them in areas with direct sunlight and optimal airflow. The weigela grows in USDA zones four through eight, reaching heights of two to six feet tall and three to five feet wide.

Spirea

Like the weigela, the spirea is another deciduous shrub available in a range of varieties with different sizes and foliage coloring. The smaller types are great for planting close to the front of the flowerbed, while the mid-sized shrubs are a good choice for container growing, and the larger varieties are good for the back of the flowerbed.

These mounding shrubs look fantastic planted together or by themselves. Some spirea varieties have color-changing foliage that turns from green to yellow and deep shades of red as the winter approaches. During the summer, the shrub attracts pollinators like bees and butterflies into the yard.

Bridal Wreath Shrub
Shrubs
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The plant is drought-resistant and hardy, requiring little maintenance during the growing season. If you live in an area with natural rainfall, you shouldn’t have to bother with watering them during the summer. At the end of the growing season, a light trim is all the plant needs to keep producing the following year.

The spirea does well in full or partial sunlight conditions, and deer might find the plant interesting to nibble on the new shoots. They suit growing in USDA zones three through eight, reaching heights of two to seven feet and up to 6-feet in width. Some varieties may be invasive in certain states, so check with your local authority before planting.

Winter Daphne

This evergreen shrub offers the gardener low-maintenance and easy care. The shrub has attractive green foliage with yellow edging, making it an impressive visual for the garden.

The shrub blooms during the winter, and it produces bright white flowers that have a mesmerizing fragrance.

These shrubs prefer being in the full sun, but they will grow in the shade. However, partial sunlight conditions may affect the intensity of the blooming stage, producing fewer flowers.

Winter Daphne
Winter Daphne

It’s important to plant the winter daphne in loose, well-draining soil that has plenty of nutrients. With the right growing conditions, you won’t have to worry about the plant for most of the summer, especially if you have high natural rainfall levels.

Gardeners can make cuttings from the branches to bring indoors during the winter to start new plants. There’s no pruning required with this daphne, making it a solid choice for low-maintenance gardens.

The daphne doesn’t like transplanting, and it prefers growing in USDA zones seven to nine. The plant can reach up to four feet in height and six feet wide, making it a large, bushy variety for larger spaces in the yard.

Mahonia

This shrub is native to Oregon and the Pacific northwest. The mahonia is an evergreen variety, producing leaves that look like they belong on a holly bush with curled, sharp edges. The plant has small shuttlecock-like flowers with an off-yellow color and an intense fragrance.

The mahonia draws pollinators into the yard, looking for the nectar of the flowers. The plant flowers in the wintertime, producing blueberries as the blooms come to an end. Overwintering hummingbirds often feed on the flowers before they expire.

Mahonia
Mahonia

The mahonia is a drought-resistant variety, tolerant of planting in the shade or the full sun. However, the plant does prefer the morning over the afternoon sun.

The low-growing varieties like the creeping mahonia make excellent ground covers. Some of the types can spread out to cover areas of eight square feet or more. The plants require minimal care during the growing season, and they’re suitable for growing in USDA zones five through 11.

Hydrangea

The hydrangea is one of the prettiest summer-blooming plants for the garden. These plants produce spectacular displays in flowerbeds, and they also work as seasonal ornamentals suitable for cutting.

How to Grow Hydrangeas
Complete Guide to Hydrangeas: How to Grow & Care for Them

However, most gardeners will soon realize that hydrangeas require special pruning techniques and staking to support the heavy flowers. That’s not exactly low-maintenance, right? Good news for hydrangea fans, there are several low-growing varieties suitable for low-maintenance gardens this summer.

Some varieties offer the gardener repeat blooming, offering a second round of flowers turning up from the remains of the dead steam you leave behind after cutting the flowers for display. Hydrangeas as best for growth in USDA zones four through eight. The plants can reach heights of five feet tall by three feet wide.

Blue Star Juniper

The traditional juniper plant is a monster, requiring pruning and maintenance during the summer season. However, like the hydrangea, several smaller varieties are easier to manage, offering the gardener minimal maintenance during the growing season.

Blue Star Juniper
Blue Star Juniper

The Blue Star juniper is a cultivar that’s suits smaller flowerbeds, thanks to its short stature. This evergreen conifer is drought and disease resistant, and it doesn’t require any pruning. The shrub produces steel-blue colored needles, with a purple tinge to the foliage in the winter.

The Blue Star juniper is a good choice for single planting or groups, and it’s rabbit and deer resistant. The shrub suits growing in USDA zones four through eight, reaching heights of two to three feet and four feet wide.

Low-Maintenance Perennials

Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grass is a great option for the sparse areas of the yard. Several different cultivars of decorative grass are available in various heights with varying textures, colors, and characteristics. Some cultivars come with fluffy seed heads, offering self-seeding for the gardener.

Most ornamental grasses are hardy, requiring little water to thrive. Most of them prefer planting in the full sun, while a few cultivars do well in partially shady conditions. Some of the colors available with ornamental grass include shades of blue, green, burgundy, bronze, and gold.

Ornamental Grasses
Ornamental Grasses

The height of the plants varies from a few inches to several feet, depending on the variety. The gardener has options for perennial or annual cultivars, with compatibility for almost any soil environment.

Ornamental grasses grow readily across America and up into Canada. Several varieties prefer the cold, while others do better in warm climates—decorative grasses suit planting across USDA zones three to eleven.

Coneflower

The coneflower is another great choice for a low-maintenance garden. These plants have short, stocky bases featuring dark green, sometimes waxy coloring. The shrub produces flower spikes that shoot up to four feet into the air, bursting into flowers in the late fall.

This perennial will keep producing year after year. The gardener should cut away the flower spikes after they die off at the end of the season. The coneflower offers you a low-maintenance plant for the flowerbed, available in several varieties.

Echinacea
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The echinacea is the most common variety, producing flowers with yellow/black bees and white petals, with pink in the tips and edging. The echinacea is also a valuable plant in traditional medicine, with the extract helping to boost the immune system.

The coneflower is a low-maintenance choice, requiring minimal watering throughout the week. The plant is not only drought-resistant, but rabbits like to feed on the young shoots in the early springtime. The coneflower grows in USDA zones four through nine, with some varieties reaching up to 16-inches in height.

Black-Eyed Susan

The black-eyed Susan is an American classic. You can often find them growing on the sides of roads throughout the mid-west into Texas and across the Sunbelt region of the US. The cheery flowers feature yellow petals with black bees, and there are several cultivars bred through private nurseries.

The black-eyed Susan takes the appearance of a large daisy with its petal structure and large bee. However, the petals have an open structure, allowing pollinators to feed off the plant easily. A few black-eyed Susan’s in your flowerbeds attract the bees and butterflies to your yard.

Black Eyed Susan
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These plants do well in the sun or the shade, with better blooming in sunny conditions. The plant is also deer and rabbit resistant, as well as drought tolerant. They make the ideal choice for the low-maintenance garden, with easy-care during the growing season.

The plants spread easily through rhizome production, but it’s easy for gardeners to keep them under control. When the plants finish flowering and seeding in the late fall, leave the seeds on the ground for the birds.

The black-eyed Susan grows across USDA zones three through nine, reaching heights of two to three feet tall, a foot or two in width.

Catmint

The catmint is another attractive choice for the low-maintenance garden. These plants feature fragrant foliage, producing long-lasting blooms throughout the flowering season. The catmint has excellent drought resistance, making it ideal for planting in easy-care gardens.

Catmint
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The plant comes in several color varieties, producing attractive blooms during the summer. Most types don’t require any pruning, but the taller ones could use a trim after the plant finishes flowering to help with further flowering the following season.

The catmint grows in USDA zone three through eight, reaching average heights of between 12 to 36-inches.

Arkansas Bluestar

The Arkansas Bluestar is one of our favorite perennial choices for a low-maintenance garden this season. This Bluestar emerges from the soil in the early springtime, producing feathery-green foliage that almost feels furry to the touch.

Arkansas Bluestar
Arkansas Bluestar

When the plant starts flowering in the summer, it produces a spectacular display of star-shaped, light-blue flowers. This initial blooming phase is impressive, but it pales compared to the second flowering session in the late fall. The second flowering stage produces a kaleidoscope of red, orange, purple, and gold blooms, making it the star of the garden.

While the flower blooms twice, it offers the gardener a low-maintenance option, requiring no deadheading after the first flowers die back. The Arkansas Bluestar does well in USDA zones four through nine. The average plant reaches three feet in height and width.

Low-Maintenance Annual Shrubs

Zinnia

The zinnia is one of the easiest shrubs to start directly from seed. However, planting seedlings from the nursery is more convenient, especially for the low-maintenance gardener. The zinnia bursts into bloom in the summer, producing bunches of flowers with jewel-toned colors ripe for cutting and displaying in a vase.

Zinnia Elegans
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The shorter zinnia varieties don’t require any staking, and they are drought-resistant plants. The zinnia does well in full sunlight conditions, with rich, loamy soil. While deadheading can accelerate flowering, they typically don’t require any maintenance during the growing season.

The zinnia grows across USDA zones four to nine, with plants reaching between 6-inches to three feet in height. They make an excellent choice for the low-maintenance garden this summer.

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Hollie is a life-long gardener, having started helping her Dad work on their yard when she was just 5. Since then she has gone on to develop a passion for growing vegetables & fruit in her garden. She has an affinity with nature and loves to share her knowledge gained over a lifetime with readers online. Hollie has written for a number of publications and is now the resident garden blogger here at GardenBeast. Contact her at hollie@gardenbeast.com or follow on twitter https://twitter.com/greenholliec

1 Comment

  1. Irene Greggs Reply

    I really enjoyed these suggestions many were new to my knowledge .can you suggest what to plant in verry dry soil under shade trees and on a hill I water only on werk ends at times every other I it’s a summer home

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