If you want to create a low maintenance garden, then it is likely that you will want to include at least a few perennial bushes and shrubs.
You might add them to add height and structure to a perennial border, or to create a hedge, for example.
But which options should you choose?
For a low maintenance ornamental garden, you should consider options which provide blooms to attract pollinators and other wildlife for as much of the year as possible.
The more biodiversity you have in your garden, the less work you, as the gardener, will have to do.
General Tips for a Low Maintenance Perennial Border
- Choose plants ideally suited to conditions where you live.
- Consider the fully grown size of species when planting to reduce pruning requirements.
- Increase diversity as much as possible.
- Plant relatively densely to avoid bare soil and reduce weeds.
- Add an organic mulch for moisture retention and to further reduce weeds.
- Aim for perennial borders with around 1/3 evergreen species for best year-round appearance.
To help you come up with your garden planting plan, here are just some of the options you could consider for low maintenance, year-round blooms:
Low Maintenance Bushes and Shrubs for Spring Flowers
Forsythia is a low maintenance shrub that will add a splash of cheery yellow early in the spring.
They will work well for any relatively free-draining site with relatively nutrient rich soil. It prefers site in full sun but can also thrive in light or dappled shade.
2. Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum)
Another easy shrub that will provide bright blooms early in spring is Ribes sanguineum.
Flowering currant bushes can be another great low maintenance option.
This too, is a good option for a relatively moist and fertile, yet free-draining site, in full sun or partial shade.
3. Viburnum x burkwoodii
This is an evergreen shrub that will require little care.
It can ultimately grow up to around 8ft in height, and has dark, glossy green leaves, and fragrant white or pale pink flowers that appear in mid-late spring.
4. Darwin’s Barberry (Berberis darwinii)
Another interesting low-maintenance evergreen option, this berberis, or barberry, has astonishingly vibrant orange flowers in spring that can really brighten up a shady spot in a garden.
The orange flowers are followed by dark purple berries.
5. Flowering quince (Chaenomeles speciosa)
Another spring flowering low maintenance perennial shrub, this too produces edible fruits.
But the main reason to grow this option in your garden is for the beautiful abundance of bright red flowers, borne on the plants in the spring.
Low Maintenance Bushes and Shrubs for Summer Flowers
6. Lilac (Various)
Blooming for only a short period of time in late spring/early summer, lilac is still a great choice for a low maintenance garden.
While in bloom, you can enjoy beautiful pale purple or white flowers, which will add a delightful scent to your outside space. And the shrubs will continue to add structure throughout the year.
7. Weigela ‘Bristol Ruby’
Another great option for blooms in the late spring/ early summer is weigela. Bristol Ruby is one interesting and attractive cultivar to consider.
You will see why this shrub is a great option when the dark crimson bell-shaped flowers appear.
8. Ceanothus ‘Puget Blue’
In addition to providing plenty of beautiful blue blooms, Ceanothus is also a nitrogen fixing plant, which can help add fertility to your garden with little effort on your part.
Puget Blue is just one of a number of easy, low maintenance cultivars to consider.
9. Spirea japonica
Great for low maintenance hedges or garden beds or borders, spirea japonica comes in a range of different cultivars, with captivating summer flowers and good structure.
Bridal wreath spirea can become ungainly if not pruned. But there are a number of tidier and easier cultivars to consider.
These shrubs have clusters of white, pink, red or purple flowers that adorn the branches all summer long.
10. Hebe (Various)
There are also a number of different Hebe cultivars to consider for your low maintenance garden.
These are another great shrub for long-lasting summer flowering displays, and the blooms come in a wide range of different colors, leaf shades and textures.
There are also plenty of different options with different forms and growing habits.
Low Maintenance Bushes and Shrubs for Fall Interest
11. Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’
There are a huge range of hydrangeas, many of which are excellent low maintenance shrubs.
One option is hydrangea paniculata – and ‘Limelight’ is a delightfully easy option to consider.
It is upright and spreading in habit, with yellow-green leaves, and flowers that open a pale lime green with tinges of pink, to mature to beautiful white/ pale green blooms.
12. Oak-Leaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)
Another easy to grow and easy to maintain hydrangea is the oak-leaf hydrangea. Native to the Southeastern United States, this shrub is named for its foliage, which has a shape similar to the leaves of oak trees.
It does well in full or partial shade.
Though they flower in summer, the color-changing foliage and the dried flower heads add interest to the garden right through fall.
13. Little Henry/ Henry’s Garnet (Itea virginica)
Thus shrub has creamy white flowers in around July, that endure through late summer. But it is the rich red and purple fall color that makes this a great choice for a fall garden – adding interest throughout the latter half of the year.
14. Brachyglottis ‘Sunshine’
This attractive evergreen shrub works well in many gardens, in full sun or partial shade.
It has silvery green leaves and bright yellow, cheerful, daisy-like flowers that bloom from late summer right through fall.
15. Shrubby Cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa)
A popular and relatively hardy ornamental plant, potentilla fruticosa is often used in temperate climate gardens as a trouble-free shrub.
There are a number of different cultivars to choose from, including a range of more compact shrubs great for smaller spaces.
These shrubs flower in white, yellow and pink, depending on cultivar, and most options take very little care.
Some bloom in summer, but some flower well into fall.
Low Maintenance Bushes and Shrubs that Look Great in Winter
16. Witch Hazel (Hamamelis vernalis)
Witch hazel’s wiry flowers can really bring interest to the winter garden.
Easy to grow, requiring little intervention, witch hazel usually has yellow flowers. But there are also cultivars with coppery or red flowers to consider.
17. Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium)
There are a range of low maintenance shrubs in the Mahonia species.
Evergreen, with prickly leaves, the oregon grape bears rich spires of sunshine yellow flowers in late winter, which are followed by purple berries.
18. Christmas Box (Sarcococca confusa)
This winter flowering evergreen shrub is prized for its fragrant white winter blooms.
These while flowers stand out in contrast against the dark green foliage of the plants. These will thrive in a well-drained spot in full sun or shade.
19. Winter Flowering Heathers (Various)
There are a number of attractive winter flowering heathers to consider for your low-maintenance garden.
There are cultivars that have white, pink and purple flowers.
Low growing, these can work well at the front of a bed or border, and can also look great in containers.
20. Daphne (Daphne Odora/ Daphne bholua)
These shrubs often bear beautiful, fragrant flowers in winter and early spring.
There are a number of different cultivars to consider – D. odora and D. bholua are just two interesting options to consider for your low-maintenance garden.
Of course, there are many, many more great low maintenance perennial bushes and shrubs to consider.
These are just a few interesting options. Remember, choosing the right plants for the right places is key to creating a low maintenance garden.
So when choosing plants, always consider the conditions where you live.