7 Types of Shrubs for Beginners

When you’re getting started with gardening, you’ll find so many options! It’s exciting! It’s overwhelming! So to help, we’ve narrowed down the vast world of shrubs into 7 types that will be easiest or most satisfying for a new gardener to start with. They come in a range of care levels and aesthetics, but each one is quite forgiving.

Reliable Flowering

Look for new wood bloomers. These are plants that send out flowers from the growth they produce in the current growing season. That means that even if you’ve had a hard winter or a pruning mishap early in the spring, you’ll still get flowers. 

Heavily blooming Tiny Quick Fire Hydrangea in the landscape

Pictured: Tiny Quick Fire® panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata)

No Pruning Needed

The thought of pruning shrubs can make some people anxious. If this is you, choose plants that simply never need to be pruned. These plants either bloom on old wood, grow slowly, or just look best when their natural habit is left alone.

Two Spilled Wine Weigela blooming in the landscape

Pictured: Spilled Wine® weigela (Weigela florida)

Compact or Dwarf

Although the plants we buy at the nursery are often cute and manageable, they don’t always stay that way. If you like the idea of managing a garden but are afraid of heavy pruning, double-check for the words dwarf or compact when you’re out shopping. Giving plants a light trim can be satisfying, so at the most that is what you’re signing up for with these varieties. Sometimes they don’t even need to be touched!

A blanket of light pink doubled flowers on Perfecto Mundo Pink Carpet azalea.

Pictured: Perfecto Mundo Pink Carpet® azalea (Rhododendron)

Deer Resistant

Deer can be a real problem. If you’ve noticed robust herds of them roaming around your area, it would be best to choose plants that don’t interest them. Planning for them will help avoid heartache! Otherwise, they might just nibble down a plant you’ve come to love.

Close up of the pink blooms of Magenta Chiffon rose of sharon

Pictured: Magenta Chiffon® Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)

Drought Tolerant

Whether watering is low on your to-do list or you live in an area that gets little precipitation, a drought-tolerant plant will serve you well. Admittedly, you will have to put in a little work its first year in the ground as it gets established, but after that these plants are very easy going.

Close up of the orange and red foliage of Kodiak Orange Diervilla

Pictured: Kodiak® Orange diervilla (Diervilla)

Disease Resistant

If you live in an area where you tend to see a lot of foliage problems, make disease-resistant plants a priority. You might see neighbors with foliage that is dusty white, yellow splotched, or darkly speckled. Many modern plants are resistant to these common plant diseases.

Double Play Doozie spirea blooming in the landscape

Pictured: Double Play Doozie® spirea (Spiraea x)

Evergreens

Evergreens are super low maintenance and add a note of vibrancy and lushness to the landscape.

The perfect evergreens for beginners are those you don’t have to prune. Just plant them and water them in well for the first year. After that, provide water when there are extended periods of drought and you’re all set to enjoy the positive effects of their constant color.

Three Anna's Magic Ball arborvitae planted in the landscape

Pictured: Anna’s Magic Ball® arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)

There are many shrubs that check multiple boxes, which is so much the better! If you’re hunting for more information: 

  • Learn precisely how to pick a shrub that is well-suited for your area with this blog
  • See exactly how to plant a shrub with this video.
  • Get inspiration on how to arrange your shrubs in a landscape plan, check out these garden plans.
Written by
Kristina Howley

Kristina Howley

I am all in when it comes to gardening. Almost every part of the experience delights me – new leaves emerging in spring, pollinators buzzing in summer, birds devouring berries in fall, and the somber beauty of seed heads in winter. Thanks to a background in horticulture and gardening my own clay-filled, flowery USDA zone 5b plot, I’ve learned plenty of practical things as well. I like sharing these joys and lessons with my fellow gardeners and soon-to-be gardeners any way I can.

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