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How Do I Choose the Best Low-Growing Shrubs?

By Drue Tibbits
Updated May 16, 2024
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The choice of low-growing shrubs depends on a combination of personal preferences and existing growing conditions. Different low-growing shrubs can provide color, fragrance or both. They might be suited for shady areas or require full sun, or they might be able to survive in dry soils or require constant moisture. It is easier to choose shrubs that are suited to your existing conditions than it is to try to modify the conditions to suit the plant.

Determine which shrubs are suited for your existing conditions before selecting those that meet your personal preferences. Check to see whether the proposed site receives full sun, partial sun or full shade. Narrow your choices to those shrubs that will grow with the site’s sun exposure. The blue star juniper is a low-growing shrub that requires full sun, and the cottoneaster Tom Thumb tolerates full shade.

Most low-growing shrubs need well-draining soil. If your soil tends to hold moisture and does not drain well, you will need to choose a shrub, such as the creeping willow, that will grow under these conditions. Dry soils in arid climates need shrubs that will tolerate drought and do not need a steady water supply. The Indian hawthorn is a hardy shrub that will survive dry and windy conditions.

Choosing compact and disease-resistant shrub varieties will help minimize maintenance. These are only secondary considerations, because most shrubs tolerate pruning, and diseases can be controlled with proper care. Choose shrubs that have a tendency to spread if you want the shrub to grow and fill in an area. Otherwise, you should choose shrubs that do not spread if you want them to remain in a limited area.

Whether you choose flowering shrubs or evergreen shrubs is a personal choice. Many evergreen shrubs provide beauty and texture on their own. There is a wide variety of flowering low-growing shrubs if you like seasonal color. The sun rose shrub blooms profusely with flowers that last for only one day. Low-growing azalea varieties erupt in a yearly burst of color.

Not all flowering shrubs produce aromatic flowers. Some flowers, although they are beautiful, have very little scent. If you want fragrant blossoms, choose a low-growing shrub such as the blackfoot daisy or the Elsholtzia stauntonii. The Elsholtzia stauntonii produces very fragrant blooms, and the blackfoot daisy has flowers that smell like honey. Several compact gardenia varieties produce the same sweet-smelling blooms for which the larger varieties are known.

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Discussion Comments
By bear78 — On Jun 15, 2013

@literally45-- If you want low maintenance, avoid fast growing shrubs and shrubs that multiply quickly. They will look short in the beginning but then, will grow tall and get out of control.

By burcinc — On Jun 14, 2013

@literally45-- Will the shrubs be in the shade, in the sun or partial?

It sounds like the climate will allow many different types of shrubs to grow in your area. You just have to make sure you get the right type of shrub for the amount of sunlight/shade that's available.

Plumbago is a very pretty flowering shrub that does well in partial shade. If you're looking for a leafy shrub, Boxwood shrubs are nice, but they do require some pruning. I'm also fond of Jasmine and some wild flowers.

By literally45 — On Jun 14, 2013

I want more low-growing shrubs in my yard mainly due to pruning reasons. I don't want to have to reach up to prune and I know that low-growing shrubs require less maintenance which is exactly what I want.

I live in a moderate climate, not too hot in the summers and not too cold in winter. We also have moderate rainfall. Can anyone recommend some pretty and lush, low-growing bushes and shrubs for me?

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