Low Maintenance Evergreen Shrubs (With Pictures) – Identification Guide

Low Maintenance Evergreen Shrubs

Evergreen shrubs that require little maintenance are excellent for any front or backyard landscape. Low maintenance ornamental shrubs with evergreen foliage can be used as privacy screens, foundation plantings, security barriers, or specimen plants. The benefit of decorative bushes that keep their leaves throughout the year is that they add a splash of color whatever the climate. 

Low Maintenance Landscaping Evergreen Shrubs

It’s easy to think of low-maintenance evergreen shrubs as bushy conifers like cypress, yew, arborvitae, spruce, and junipers. However, many ornamental evergreen shrubs have stunning flowers like cherry laurel, Texas ranger, azaleas, and Indian hawthorn. Additionally, many hardy evergreen shrubs have colorful leaves that can be yellow, red, or variegated multi-colored foliage. For example, Japanese barberry and photinia ‘Red Robin’ are red-leafed shrubs, and wintercreeper has yellow and green leaves. 

This article is a guide to spectacular low-maintenance evergreen shrubs to add depth of color, texture, and beauty to your garden landscape. 

What Are Low Maintenance Evergreen Shrubs?

Low-maintenance evergreen shrubs are multi-stemmed bushy plants that require little care. These easy-care shrubs don’t lose their leaves in the fall, but their foliage remains throughout winter. Additionally, low-maintenance landscaping shrubs don’t need much watering or pruning and thrive in various soil types. These factors make evergreen shrubs an asset to a garden landscape.

How to Choose Low Maintenance Evergreen Shrubs for a Landscape

When choosing evergreen shrubs that require minimal care, it’s vital to consider sun exposure requirements. Many no-fuss evergreen shrubs can thrive in full sun to partial shade. These require at least six hours of sunlight daily. However, other ornamental bushes are for partial shade to deep shade.

The other consideration when buying minimal care shrubs with evergreen foliage is their mature size. Dwarf, evergreen shrubs are perfect for foundation planting or low informal hedges. But you may want to grow taller evergreen shrubs as a living fence

And finally, consider the shrub’s width, so it has room to grow and enhance your yard’s aesthetics.

Low Maintenance Evergreen Shrubs (With Pictures) – Identification Guide

There are many varieties of evergreen shrubs that are considered low maintenance. However, some are easier to maintain than others. Please continue reading to learn about the best shrubs to grow for an evergreen landscape all year round.

Texas Ranger (Leucophyllum frutescens)

Texas Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens)

Texas ranger is a low maintenance flowering evergreen shrub with silvery foliage that is drought and heat tolerant

Texas ranger is a beautiful flowering evergreen shrub with low maintenance needs. The rounded shrub features dense foliage consisting of small oval silvery leaves, purple bell-shaped flowers, and an attractive appearance. Evergreen Texas ranger shrubs grow 5 to 8 ft. (1.5 – 2.4 m) tall and up to 6 ft. (1.8 m) wide.

Texas ranger blooms sporadically throughout summer and the fall, typically after rainfall. The landscaping shrub is ideal for perennial borders, foundation plantings, a flowering hedge, or specimen shrubs. You can also grow the silvery evergreen shrub in containers. 

The low-maintenance evergreen shrub is drought and heat tolerant and thrives in USDA zones 8 to 10. 

Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)

Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)

Japanese barberry is a prickly evergreen easy care bush with red leaves that is tolerant of poor soil and drought

Japanese barberry is a red-leafed evergreen shrub that thrives without much care. The red evergreen shrub has eye-catching vibrant red leaves, yellow spring flowers, and bright red clusters of berries in the fall. This red shrub also has prickly stems, making it ideal for a security barrier. 

Planting bushes with red leaves in a landscape adds vibrant colors throughout the year. The low-growing barberry bush reaches 3 ft. (1 m) tall and up to 8 ft. (2.4 m) wide. You can plant this adaptable evergreen red bush in beds, borders, as a specimen plant, or colorful informal hedge. 

Japanese barberry is tolerant of poor soil, drought, and pollution. It thrives in USDA zones 4 to 8 in full sun or partial shade.

Boxwood (Buxus)

boxwood shrubs

Dwarf evergreen boxwood shrubs are hardy and easy to grow in most areas and thrive in full sun or shade and can look great as potted plants

Boxwood is one of the most popular evergreen landscaping shrubs suitable for sun and shade. Boxwood shrubs keep their deep green color throughout the year. The versatile green bushes are tough, hardy, and easy to grow in a garden landscape. Varieties of boxwood can be small, compact, rounded shrubs, or tall conical bushes.

Boxwood shrubs have dense evergreen foliage consisting of small glossy green oval leaves. The hardy low maintenance boxwood shrubs are perfect for planting as a formal hedge or in planters, borders, mixed beds, and foundation plantings. Boxwood plants thrive in USDA zones 5 to 8 and perform well in full sun to deep shade.

Indian Hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis indica)

Rhaphiolepis indica

Indian hawthorn is an evergreen flowering shrub with pink or white flowers that create a low maintenance privacy hedge in your garden. This image shows Rhaphiolepis indica cv. ‘Ballerina’.

Indian hawthorn is a flowering evergreen shrub with minimal maintenance needs. The long-blooming evergreen bushy plant is identified by its masses of pink or white fragrant flowers that cover the shrub in spring. The hardy bush also has leathery, pointed oval leaves and dark blue winter berries.

Indian hawthorn is tolerant of drought, heat, and sun. The attractive pink-flowering shrub grows 4 to 6 ft. (1.2 – 1.8 m) tall and wide. The evergreen landscaping shrub is ideal for planting along a foundation line, in containers, shrub borders, or as a year-round floral privacy screen

Indian hawthorn thrives in USDA zones 8 to 11 and requires six to eight hours of direct sunlight to perform best.

Yew Shrubs (Taxus) — Low Maintenance Evergreen Shrubs

Yew shrubs are a variety of easy-care evergreen coniferous plants with dense foliage growth consisting of soft needles. These attractive conifers have flat, needle-like leaves growing on woody stems. Additionally, yew shrubs produce bright red berry-like fruits. Yew shrubs thrive in USDA zones 4 to 7 in full sun or shade.

To decide on the best type of yew shrub for a low maintenance evergreen landscape, you should choose the cultivar that suits your needs.

Here are a few examples of low maintenance evergreen yew shrubs: 

Anglo-Japanese yew (Taxus x media ‘Densiformis’) is a rounded low maintenance small shrub growing 4 ft. (1.2 m) tall and is suitable for a low-growing hedge or foundation planting. It is one of the best dwarf evergreen shrubs for shade.

Anglo-Japanese Yew (Taxus x media ‘Densiformis’

The spreading low growth habit of Taxus x media Densiformis makes it suitable as an easy care evergreen ground cover plant

English yew (Taxus baccata) ‘Repandens Aurea’ is a yellow, evergreen coniferous bushy plant with a dwarf growing habit and yellowish-green foliage. 

Dwarf English Yew Shrub (Taxus baccata ‘Repandens Aurea’)

Growing 2 to 4 ft. (0.6 – 1.2 m) tall and 15 ft. (4.5 m) wide, the English yew ‘Repandens Aurea’ is ideal for full sun ground cover, foundation plantings, or a specimen landscaping plant

Canada Yew (Taxus canadensis) is a sprawling evergreen shrub that thrives in the shade and grows 3 to 5 ft. (1 – 1.5 m) tall and up to 8 ft. (2.4 m) wide.

American Yew (Taxus canadensis)

Canada yew doesn’t require much care and is a slow grower adaptable shrub

False Cypress ‘Golden Charm’ (Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Golden Charm’)

Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Golden Charm'

The low maintenance golden charm false cypress is a compact evergreen shrub and is great for front of house landscaping

The false cypress cultivar ‘Golden Charm’ is a small, slow-growing yellow shrub with evergreen, feathery leafy sprays. The easy care dwarf shrub is characterized by its bright yellow foliage that doesn’t fade in full sun. The bushy conifer has a pyramidal growth form, drooping branches, and grows 5 to 6 ft. (1.5 – 1.8 m) tall and up to 8 ft. (2.4 m) wide.

The false cypress ‘Golden Charm’ is a low maintenance landscaping shrub to grow as a specimen plant, low-growing evergreen hedge, border shrub, or foundation plant. The mop-headed dwarf cypress thrives in USDA zones 4 to 8 and needs full sun for the most vibrant yellowish-green colors.

Chinese Privet (Ligustrum sinense ‘Sunshine’)

Chinese Privet (Ligustrum sinense 'Sunshine')

The small Chinese privet is an evergreen hardy shrub that adds a burst of sunny yellow colored foliage to brighten up your garden

The Chinese privet cultivar ‘Sunshine’ is a dwarf, evergreen shrub for full sun with attractive yellow foliage. Ideal for low-maintenance gardens, the yellow Chinese privet has glossy yellow leaves, small, fragrant white flower clusters in spring, and blue-black berries in the fall. This brightly-colored easy-care bush grows 3 to 6 ft. (1 – 1.8 m) tall.

With its low maintenance requirements and year-long golden foliage, the Chinese privet is ideal for adding color to a garden landscape. You can plant the decorative shrub as a small hedge, foundation planting, or specimen plant. Thriving in full sun, this evergreen shrub is suitable for USDA zone 6 to 10.

Golden Mop Cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Golden Mop’)

Gold Mop Cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Golden Mop’)

Gold Mop cypress is a drought tolerant evergreen easy care shrub with ornamental yellow green foliage

If you are looking for a yellow low-maintenance shrub to landscape a garden, then the ‘Golden Mop’ cypress is an excellent choice. This slow-growing coniferous shrub has a pyramidal to conical form, golden yellow needle leaves, and excellent drought tolerance. The ‘Golden Mop’ grows 5 to 7 ft. (1.5 – 2.1 m) tall. 

Grow the ‘Golden Mop’ cypress in USDA zones 4 through 8 and full sun for best results. The small evergreen shrub is ideal as a low-growing border plant, hedge, foundation planting, or specimen plant. 

Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus)

dwarf cherry laurel

Dwarf cherry laurel is a low growing easy care evergreen shrub that is suitable for smaller spaces

Cherry laurel is a low-maintenance evergreen shrub that produces masses of white flower clusters that smell like plums. The bushy hedge plant is identified by its leathery, glossy green leaves and red berries in the fall.

The attractive, fast-growing leafy shrub grows 15 to 30 ft. (4 – 12 m) tall, but there are several cultivars of dwarf cherry laurel to suit smaller spaces. The dwarf English laurel is an ideal hedge plant for a small or compact garden. A dwarf cherry laurel grows between 6 to 8 ft. (1.8 – 2.4 m) tall and up to 6 ft. (1.8 m) wide. 

Also called English laurel, this gorgeous shrub with its lustrous green leaves and white flowers is popular as a hedgerow plant, privacy screen, or natural fence. You can plant the easy-grow shrub in full sun or part shade in USDA zones 6 to 9.  

Mahonia Evergreen Shrubs

Mahonia is a group of evergreen, low-maintenance shrubs with leathery green leaves that turn red or burgundy in winter. An identifying feature of mahonia shrubs is their glossy green leaves with barbed margins. Many varieties of these shrubs have leaves that emerge red, turn green, and then turn reddish-purple in the fall.

Oregon grape holly (Mahonia aquifolium) is a cold-hardy evergreen landscaping shrub with jagged leaves and clusters of waxy-blue grape-like fruits. This shrub thrives in USDA zones 5 to 8 and needs partial sun or full shade to thrive. The slow-growing shrub grows 3 to 6 ft. (0.9 – 1.8 m) tall and 2 to 5 ft. (0.6 – 1.5 m) wide.

Mahonia

Oregon grape is a flowering evergreen shrub with yellow flowers in early spring, followed by blue berries

Another popular mahonia evergreen shrub for garden landscaping is the Japanese mahonia (Mahonia japonica). This shade-loving bushy plant has spikes of sweetly-scented yellow flowers, spiky green leaves that turn red in the winter, and glossy blue-black berries.

Reaching to 7 ft. (2 m) tall by 10 ft. (3 m) wide, grow Japanese mahonia in USDA zones 7 or 8.

mahonia japonica

The leaves of the Japanese mahonia are evergreen, but they change colors throughout the year

Holly Shrubs (Ilex)— Low-Maintenance Evergreen Plants

Holly shrubs

Most shrubs in the holly family are evergreen and include many varieties including dwarf shrubs for compact gardens

Holly shrubs are easy-to-care-for evergreen shrubs with glossy green, jagged leaves and attractive red winter berries. Although holly is a flowering shrub, the small greenish-white flowers are relatively inconspicuous. Generally, holly shrubs grow easily in most soils and are drought tolerant when established. 

Evergreen holly shrubs are hardy in growing zones 6 to 10 and perform best in full sun or partial shade. Choose the English holly (Ilex aquifolium ‘Ferox Argentea’) for a type of holly with variegated foliage and red berries. Or choose a dwarf variety of yaupon holly ‘Nana’ (Ilex vomitoria ‘Nana’) which has compact, rounded growth. The dense evergreen shrub grows up to 5 ft. (1.5 m) tall and 6 ft. (1.8 m) spread and is a popular landscape plant that can be used for topiary.

Ilex vomitoria Nana

Yaupon holly ‘Nana’ (Ilex vomitoria ‘Nana’)

Plant holly shrubs as a decorative security hedge or foundation planting. 

Inkberry Evergreen Shrubs (Ilex glabra)

Ilex glabra Shamrock

Ilex glabra ‘Shamrock’ is a small evergreen shrub that grows to 3 – 4 ft. (0.9 – 1.2 m) tall

Inkberry shrubs have attractive evergreen foliage consisting of elliptical green leaves growing densely on upright stems. The year-long green leaves are stunning against the star-shaped white flowers in spring and summer and black berries in the fall. These slow-growing, low-maintenance shrubs thrive in growing zones 4 through 11 in full sun.

Inkberry shrubs grow 5 – 8 ft. (1.5–2.4 m) tall; however, some dwarf cultivars like the Ilex glabra ‘Shamrock’ are shorter. The bushy plants are ideal for growing as an evergreen hedgerow, container plant, or mixed border shrub. 

Their tolerance for damp soil makes them ideal for planting in full sun and in ground that doesn’t drain well.

Photinia ‘Red Robin’ (Photinia x fraseri ‘Red Robin’)

Photinia Red Robin

Photinia ‘Red Robin’ evergreen bushes have new red leaves that gradually turn green as they mature

The ‘Red Robin’ photinia shrub is a dense, medium-sized evergreen bushy plant with an erect habit and glossy, elliptic leaves that emerge red. The spectacular, red-leafed shrub becomes greener as the leaves mature in summer through winter. Other decorative features of the red-tipped photinia shrub are small white flowers in the spring followed by red berries. 

Red photinia shrubs grow 8 to 13 ft. (2.5 – 4 m) tall and wide. They thrive in USDA zones 7 to 9 and full sun. Due to their large size, colorful evergreen foliage, and dense growth, photinia shrubs are ideal for low-maintenance hedges and screens.

False Holly (Osmanthus heterophyllus)

Osmanthus heterophyllus

False holly is a hardy white flowering evergreen shrub with dark green or variegated foliage (on the right)

False holly is an ornamental evergreen shrub with few maintenance needs. The sun-loving shrub is recognized by its leathery, shiny deep green leaves, clusters of fragrant white winter flowers, and bluish-black berry-like fruits. The decorative bushy plant grows 8 to 10 ft. (2.4 – 3 m) tall and up to 9 ft. (2.7 m) wide. 

Suitable for USDA zones 7 to 9, false holly is drought-tolerant, requires little or no pruning, and is pest and disease-free. The beautiful shrub with its charming leaves grows well as an evergreen hedge, screen, foundation planting, or specimen plant. 

Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei)

Euonymus fortunei shrubs

The colorful foliage of small evergreen Euonymus shrubs add an ornamental element to any garden. This picture shows the compact cultivars: ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’, ‘Emerald Gaiety’ and ‘Moonshadow’

Also called Fortune’s Spindle, wintercreeper is a sprawling low maintenance evergreen shrub suitable for ground cover in sun or shade. Many varieties of wintercreeper have brightly colored green and yellow, or green and creamy-white leaves. Suitable for growing in USDA zones 5 through 9.

Wintercreeper is a versatile shrub that can grow as a mounding shrub, climbing evergreen vine, or prostrate to form a mat of green foliage. There is also great variation in color among the various cultivars.

Here are a few examples of low maintenance evergreen wintercreeper shrubs:  

  • Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald Gaiety’—Green and creamy white variegated leaves turning pinkish in winter. 
  • Euonymus fortunei ‘Goldy’—A yellow sprawling evergreen shrub with brilliant foliage that keeps its color throughout the year.
  • Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’—A prized shrubby plant for its golden-yellow foliage with patches of lime green in the center. 

Dwarf Spruce Shrubs (Picea)

dwarf Norway spruce

Bird’s nest spruce (Picea abies ‘Nidiformis’) is a slow growing easy care shrub that only grows to 2 – 4 ft. (0.6 – 1.2 m) tall

Although spruce is known as a group of tall coniferous trees, many dwarf spruce shrubs add a nice touch to your front yard landscape. Evergreen spruce shrubs grow between 1 and 4 ft. (0.3 – 1.2 m). Depending on the cultivar, they have a rounded or conical growth habit, with a few flat-topped varieties. 

dwarf White Spruce Shrub

The dwarf white spruce (Picea glauca ‘Echiniformis’) is a low growing cold hardy shrub with slow growth rate that won’t grow higher than 1.5 ft. (0.5 m) in 10 years

Spruce shrubs are ideal for landscaping a front yard in colder climates. The coniferous shrubs are hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8 and need full sun to perform best. 

Low Maintenance Evergreen Flowering Azalea Shrubs

azalea shrubs

Evergreen azalea bushes include many varieties with various sizes and flower colors

Many varieties of azalea shrubs are evergreen plants that are ideal for low maintenance landscaping. Low-growing flowering azalea shrubs are famed for their showy flowers in blue, white, pink, and purple colors. Planting azaleas is ideal for boosting your property’s curb appeal or creating an evergreen hedge, privacy screen, or specimen plant. 

Some azalea plants are beautiful flowering dwarf cultivars that grow well in containers. Most gardeners find that azaleas are one of the easiest shrubs to grow.

Firethorn Shrub – Mohave Pyracantha (Pyracantha x ‘Mohave’) – Evergreen Thorny Shrub

Thorny Firethorn Shrub (Pyracantha)

Mohave Pyracantha is a versatile evergreen flowering low maintenance landscaping shrub for front or backyard

Firethorn is a group of large evergreen shrubs with thorny stems, small oval green leaves, clusters of white flowers, and thick bunches of bright red or orange berry-like pomes. Firethorn shrubs generally grow 10 to 15 ft. (3 – 4.5 m) tall and prefer full sun to partial shade. They are also fast-growing shrubs, averaging about 2 ft. (60 cm) per year.

The Mohave pyracantha is a fast-growing, berry-producing shrub that doesn’t need much care. Growing between 6 and 12 ft. (1.8 – 3.6 m) tall, the firethorn shrub has lush evergreen foliage, clusters of small white flowers, and orangey-red berries.

In garden landscapes, Mohave pyracantha is ideal for foundation planting, a privacy barrier, or an evergreen security hedge. This easy-care bushy shrub adapts well to most soils, doesn’t need much pruning, and provides year-round interest. Grow in USDA zone 6 – 9.

Related articles: