20 Varieties of Low Maintenance Hedge Plants

Hedges have been used in landscaping for centuries. Prized for their incredible versatility and practicality.

Floral or evergreen features can add colour, contrast and visual power to just about any size garden space. While simultaneously serving as space definers, privacy barriers, wind and weather breakers or home foundation protectors.

But, how much work does it take to maintain all that? Deciduous hedges lose their leaves in autumn (which may require a bit of raking), while evergreens don’t. Given what the following low-maintenance hedge plants offer in return, they’re definitely worth it.

Types of Fuss-Free Hedges

If you’re looking for some easy-going hedge plants, you’ve got a big selection to choose from. Let’s start by focusing on three basic hedge categories and their beneficial features.

Evergreen Hedge Plants

Retaining their leaves in winter, these offer consistent colour, texture and functionality year-round. Evergreens are perfect for those who want a beautiful landscape but don’t have a ton of time to spend on it.

Deciduous Plant Options

Deciduous hedge plants lose their leaves and go dormant, in winter. But not before providing you with brilliant fall colour and dazzling, fragrant blooms the following spring.

20 Varieties of Low Maintenance Hedge Plants

This list of hedge plants will provide you with a full spectrum of options, with differing leaf textures, relaxed or tightly woven growth habits, flowering or non. Whatever your preference, in the right position and hardiness zone, they’ll be virtually carefree.

1. Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides)

1. Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides)

  • Average Size at Maturity: 4’ tall and wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 8-11
  • Bloom Time: Late spring to early summer
  • Ideal Position: full sun to light shade and well-draining, lime-free soil

This fragrant, evergreen can withstand direct sun and heat while being pest, disease and deer resistant.

One inch of water per week and monthly fertilizing with a gardenia-specific NPK will encourage dense growth with glossy green, ovate leaves and rose-like blooms that bud in singles or small groupings.

Per the ASPCA, these features, together with tiny, autumn berries, may cause significant intestinal issues, if consumed by pets.

Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens)

2. Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens)

  • Average Size at Maturity: 5’ tall by 4 ft. wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 8-11
  • Ideal Position: full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil

This evergreen is adaptable to most soil types. Steroidal alkaloids also make it deer resistant. Which makes this potentially toxic around pets and children.

Boxwood naturally grows in mounded form with small elliptical leaves and tightly woven branches. Its slow growth rate significantly lowers any pruning needs.

New plants will need regular watering until established. At this time, natural rainfall will be sufficient. Fertilize with a nitrogen-rich NPK in spring, when necessary.

Murraya (Murraya Paniculata)

3. Murraya (Murraya Paniculata)

  • Average Size at Maturity: 8-12’ tall and wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 8-11
  • Bloom Time: Late spring to early summer
  • Ideal Position: full sun to part shade, in moist, well-drained loam

Native to Australia, this sub-tropical evergreen, commonly called a ‘Mock Orange’ is quite hardy and even tolerant of frost and salty, coastal environments.

Tufts of velvety-soft leaves sprout from the tips of sturdy branches. Clusters of white flowers that emit the heavenly scent of orange blossoms.

Water your Murraya deeply and infrequently. Fertilize in spring with slow-release shrub granules and prune in fall, after flowering ends.

Photinia (Photinia serratifolia)

4. Photinia (Photinia serratifolia)

  • Average Size at Maturity: 10-15’ tall by 5-8’ wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 6-10
  • Bloom Time: Mid-spring
  • Ideal Position: full sun/partial shade and moist, well-drained soil

Looking for a non-flowering show-stopper? This highly adaptive red evergreen shrub presents curled textured, leaf spot-resistant leaves that mature through various stages of vibrant colour. Offering you a beautiful, ever-changing hedge.

Soil should be kept consistently moist, which actually doesn’t require much watering, as the soil is heavily shaded by the Photinia. Feed with a Phosphorus-rich NPK in the first season after planting and pinch back new sprouts to encourage fuller branching.

Viburnum (Viburnum opulus)

5. Viburnum (Viburnum opulus)

  • Average Size at Maturity: 12’ tall by 6’ wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 4-9
  • Bloom Time: Early spring to late summer
  • Ideal Position: full sun and fertile, free-draining soil

This adaptable, cold-hardy shrub displays a loose growing habit that gently sways in the breeze from New Brunswick to Florida.

Lanceolate leaves sprout along thin, arching branches. Releasing dainty, white flower clusters from the tips. Edible autumn berries look striking against burgundy-toned foliage.

Viburnum hedges only require watering after planting or in extended drought conditions. In poor soil, yearly fertilization will support vigorous growth. As well as pruning after flowering.

Abelia (Abelia × grandiflora)

6. Abelia (Abelia × grandiflora)

  • Average Size at Maturity: 3-6’ tall and wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 5-9
  • Bloom Time: Late spring to Fall
  • Ideal Position: full to partial sun and slightly acidic loam

This semi-evergreen only loses its autumn leaves in colder zones, just before new spring growth appears. 

Bearing fragrant, pink, panicled blooms from the tips of pendulous branches, this hedge plant is drought and erosion tolerant and resistant to deer.

To encourage fuller growth, water regularly and apply all-purpose fertilizer in spring. Abelia blooms on new wood, so prune older branches back to the main trunk in late winter.

Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa)

7. Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa)

  • Average Size at Maturity: 6-10’ tall and wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 4-8
  • Bloom Time: Spring
  • Ideal Position: Full to partial sun and well-drained, nutrient-rich soil

The flowering quince is another cold hardy semi-evergreen that’s also heat and drought-tolerant. Tailor-made for hot summers in northern climates. Dense, thorny brambles do a great job of deterring deer.

Amid these hefty security measures sprout deep pink flowers with contrasting yellow stamens surrounded by soft, green leaves. Autumn brings small, edible pomes.

Along with one spring application of all-purpose fertilizer granules, only moderate watering is needed to sustain them.

Japanese Euonymus (Euonymus japonicus)

8. Japanese Euonymus (Euonymus japonicus)

  • Average Size at Maturity: 10-15’ tall by 5-8’ wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 6-9
  • Bloom Time: Late spring
  • Ideal Position: Partial shade and sandy, well-drained soil

Live along the coast and struggle to grow plants in a salty, windy environment? This is remarkably tolerant of these conditions. As well as drought, disease and deer resistance.

Small, ovate leaves create a densely cover sturdy branch structure. Tiny, white flower clusters provide sustenance for pollinators and develop pink berries, in autumn.

Established plants need little water or fertilizer. Prune only to maintain a desired shape, in late winter.

Holly (Ilex aquifolium)

9. Holly (Ilex aquifolium)

  • Average Size at Maturity: 5-10’ tall by 5-8’ wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 5-9
  • Bloom Time: Mid to late spring
  • Ideal Position: Full sun/light shade and well-draining, fertile soil

A classic icon of winter, evergreen holly shrubs provide year-long interest with barbed leaves and bright, red berries, of which deer are not big fans.

In everything including heavily compacted, nutritionally poor or highly acidic soil, holly shrubs will still produce glossy green foliage, small white flower clusters and red berries.

Being so cold and hardy, these may require extra watering in extreme heat. Yet, don’t require much fertilizer or pruning.

Delavay Privet (Ligustrum ionandrum)

10. Delavay Privet (Ligustrum ionandrum)

  • Average Size at Maturity: 10’ tall and wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 5-8
  • Bloom Time: Mid to late spring
  • Ideal Position: Full sun to partial shade and moist, fertile soil

This evergreen shrub has a more subtle appearance and its resilient and low-maintenance nature is ideal for privacy and erosion control.

Small, elliptical leaves grow in a dense formation around branches and small, white floret clusters that develop into black, non-edible berries. 

Water new plants frequently, until established. To encourage lush growth and increased flowering, apply an organic shrub fertilizer and prune only to maintain the desired shape.

11. Scarlet Firethorn (Pyracantha coccinea)

Scarlet Firethorn (Pyracantha coccinea)

11. Scarlet Firethorn (Pyracantha coccinea)

  • Average Size at Maturity: 8-10’ tall by 12’ wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 6-9
  • Bloom Time: Late spring to early summer
  • Ideal Position: Full sun to partial shade and dry, free-draining soil

This semi-evergreen is tolerant of clay soil, drought and hot, dry and/or salty conditions. Thornes and inherent toxicity also impart deer and rabbit resistance.

Small, leathery leaves support large, white flower clusters. These develop into swathes of fiery orange berries in autumn.

Performance is heightened in consistently moist soil and a 10-10-10 fertilizer. Prune in early winter to maintain a preferred shape.

Hybrid Yew (Taxus × media 'Tautonii')

12. Hybrid Yew (Taxus × media ‘Tautonii’)

  • Average Size at Maturity: 10’ tall and wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 5-8
  • Bloom Time: Spring
  • Ideal Position: Full sun/partial shade and well-draining soil.

Yew shrubs are tough against winter frost and summer heat. Twisting branches give movement to sprays of green foliage. Tiny yellow-green flowers bloom and produce open-ended, red seed pods. Caution is recommended as every part of the shrub can be toxic if consumed.

Water new yews frequently, tapering off as they mature. Fertilize with a nitrogen-rich NPK for fuller growth and prune only to improve air circulation throughout the shrub.

Spirea (Spiraea salicifolia)

13. Spirea (Spiraea salicifolia)

  • Average Size at Maturity: 3-6’ tall by 6’ wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 4-8
  • Bloom Time: Summer
  • Ideal Position: Full sun to light shade and free-draining soil.

Deciduous, non-toxic Spirea shrubs are tough and delicate at the same time. While drought, cold and poor soil tolerant, they’re also pest and disease resistant.

Serrated, ovate leaves line strong, extended branches which provide sturdy support for beautiful panicles of white or lavender flowers.

This bud is more abundantly with regular watering and fertilizing with slow-release granules. Prune once summer flowering has ended, as flowers bud on new growth, the following season.

Oleander (Nerium oleander)

14. Oleander (Nerium oleander)

  • Average Size at Maturity: 6-10’ tall by 10’ wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 8b-10
  • Bloom Time: Early summer to mid-autumn
  • Ideal Position: Full sun and well-drained, alkaline soil

Oleander grows in poor soil, blazing heat, salty air and prolonged drought. Its high level of toxicity makes it deer and rabbit-proof, as well. Although, this can be dangerous for people and pets, too.

Lanceolate leaves line arching branches, releasing clusters of brightly coloured flowers throughout the growing season.

If flowering is minimal, offer deep, weekly water and all-purpose, slow-releasing fertilizer granules. Prune, wearing gloves, to maintain a desired height.

Shrub Rose (Rosa)

15. Shrub Rose (Rosa)

  • Average Size at Maturity: 5’ tall by 3’ wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 5-8
  • Bloom Time: Late spring to early summer
  • Ideal Position: Full sun/part shade and nutrient-rich, well-draining soil

New hybrids offer a tolerance to heat and cold. As well as mildew, rust and black spot resistance.

These bloom in splendid colours and once spent, the developing rose hips can be used in jams, jellies and teas.

Increased watering may be needed in hot, summer weather with a rose-specific fertilizer applied throughout the season. Cut branches back by one-third in late winter to encourage bushy, new growth.

Bigleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)

16. Bigleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)

  • Average Size at Maturity: 7’ tall by 8’ wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 6-9
  • Bloom Time: Early summer to early fall
  • Ideal Position: Full sun to partial shade and free-draining, acidic soil.

This beloved, deciduous shrub can absorb nutrients in a broad range of soil pH levels. Hybrid varieties are also heat and drought-tolerant and deer resistant.

An elegant growing habit encompasses large, ovate leaves and glorious heads of individual, four-petaled flowers in pink, indigo and white.

Lush foliage and blooms abound with weekly watering and an acidic, well-balanced fertilizer. Prune back in late winter.

Mexican Orange Blossom (Choisya ternata)

17. Mexican Orange Blossom (Choisya ternata)

  • Average Size at Maturity: 4-8’ tall and wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 7b-10
  • Bloom Time: Late spring to early summer
  • Ideal Position: Morning sun/afternoon shade and fertile, well-drained soil

Not to be confused with a Murraya paniculata, the Choisya ternata offers the same low-maintenance beauty and heavenly fragrance. Just with a different leaf shape.

Disease and deer resistant, this low-maintenance shrub presents bountiful blooms that smell of fresh oranges and vibrant, spiky foliage.

To maintain such lushness, weekly watering and a potassium-rich NPK may be required. Prune just after flowering to avoid losing any blooms.

Red Barberry (Berberis haematocarpa)

18. Red Barberry (Berberis haematocarpa)

  • Average Size at Maturity: 10’ tall by 6’ wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 4-9
  • Bloom Time: Spring to early summer
  • Ideal Position: Full sun and loose, loamy soil.

Interested in adding striking colour to your low-maintenance hedge plants? The Red Barberry couldn’t be a more perfect choice, especially for Xeriscape gardens. Gradient burgundy foliage and red stems are drought and heat-tolerant and burn-resistant.

Its large, mounded growth habit, covered in seasonal white flowers and red berries, requires regular watering until roots are firmly established and a triple 14 fertilizer at half strength.

Fragrant Olive (Osmanthus Fragrans)

19. Fragrant Olive (Osmanthus fragrans)

  • Average Size at Maturity: 10-12’ tall by 8’ wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 8b-11
  • Bloom Time: Summer
  • Ideal Position: Full morning sun/afternoon shade and moist, free-draining soil

This sweet-smelling evergreen is reliably tolerant of compacted, clay soil, drought and mildly salty environments.

Orange flowers rise through leathery leaves and produce edible autumn fruit. Biochemicals in leaves effectively deter deer. However, these may also cause significant intestinal issues, in pets.

Fragrant Olives can handle periods of drought but need to be well-watered after planting. Fertilize every 1-2 years with slow-releasing granules and prune in late winter for fuller growth.

Japanese Cedar 'Globosa Nana' (Cryptomeria japonica)

20. Japanese Cedar ‘Globosa Nana’ (Cryptomeria japonica)

  • Average Size at Maturity: 4-5’ tall by 5-6’ wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 5-9
  • Ideal Position: Full sun to part shade and nutrient-rich, acidic soil

Finally, we have a dwarf evergreen with a naturally neat growing habit that requires little pruning, if any.

Feathery sprays of soft, braided needles emerge a mellow chartreuse before maturing to a rich blue-green. Colder autumn weather triggers the development of ornamental cone clusters.

Overall, this attractive shrub is pest and disease-resistant and quite drought-tolerant, once established.

Water well during periods of prolonged summer heat and fertilize with an acidic NPK in spring. 

Plant Care for Healthy Hedges

Given the mature size of these low-maintenance hedge plants, you’d only have to plant one or two to create an eye-catching visual statement, an effective privacy barrier or an erosion control scheme. Adding cost-effectiveness to their appeal. Quality care will increase this aspect immeasurably.

Before planting, make sure the pH of your soil matches the long-term needs of your chosen shrub. For example, hydrangeas and cold-climate evergreens like the Japanese cedar grow best in acidic soil, whereas other plants will tolerate whatever you have.

With flowering and fruiting hedges, sufficient light is critical, as shady spots will minimize flowering and growth. 

What makes these low-maintenance is how well they’re able to pull nutrients from the soil with minimal supplementing on your part. When necessary, an all-purpose NPK works just fine.

All that said, the most important aspect of quality shrub care is choosing one that will thrive in your hardiness zone.

Frequently Asked Questions

What plant is best for a small hedge?

Many low-maintenance hedge shrubs will grow quite large if allowed to. But, part of their appeal is that they can be kept small with seasonal pruning. Plants that naturally remain on the small side are Roses, Abelia and Dwarf Japanese Cedars.

What is the fastest-growing hedge to plant?

The answer to this question will vary depending on your hardiness zone. Arborvitae and holly shrubs can grow 24” per year, in cold climates. In temperate ones, the Delavay Privet and Mexican orange blossom can expand by 36”, per growing season.

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Ben's horticultural interest grew when graduating from Hertfordshire University in 1997. Having contributed to numerous publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design Magazine, and The English Garden. He is also the author of Propagating Houseplants Made Easy.