Top 10 Small Shrubs for Small Spaces

Yes, you do have room for an extra shrub or maybe even two—all of our expert picks for the top 10 small shrubs are under 5 feet tall!

You have a very small space, perhaps just a patio, yet you still want to grow shrubs. Or maybe you have a good-size yard, but it’s filled to the max. Or perhaps you just like small shrubs because they’re so darn cute! It doesn’t matter what your story is: Nearly everyone can find a use for a small shrub. So many kinds are available that it may seem impossible to choose just one or two, but you’ll certainly have fun trying. Use our top picks as your guide to the best small shrubs for small spaces.

Looking for evergreen options? Check out the top 10 dwarf conifers for small spaces.

Sapphire Bluebeard small shrubs Bailey NurseriesVia Bailey Nurseries

Small Shrubs: Sapphire Surf Bluebeard

Caryopteris x clandonensis, Zones 5 to 9

Many perennials will outgrow this small shrub, which is just 2 feet tall. Grow it as an accent plant, or group several together for a bigger impact. Sapphire Surf Bluebeard blooms endlessly in full sun.

Why we love it: You can’t beat these blooms. The purplish-blue flowers are absolutely gorgeous.

Check out our favorite dwarf flowering shrubs for containers.

Cornusfirsteditionsfiredance 02 4819 1 1180x663Via First Editions Plants

Firedance Dogwood

Cornus cericea, Zones 2 to 7

Dogwood comes in many shapes and sizes, so consider adding a compact variety to your backyard. This Firedance cultivar is true to its name, with reddish-purple foliage in fall. It grows only 3 or 4 feet high and prefers full sun. This shrub is a good choice for moist soil, slopes and rain gardens.

Why we love it: In addition to those glowing leaves, its pretty white berries give it four-season appeal.

Don’t miss these blooming bushes that attract butterflies.

coral beauty cotoneasterVia

Coral Beauty Cotoneaster

Cotoneaster dammeri, Zones 5 to 8

With small fragrant white flowers in early summer, and coral berries in fall and winter, this low-growing small shrub shines for months. Coral Beauty (above) grows just 1 to 2 feet tall and has dense glossy, dark green foliage.

Why we love it:  In addition to all that color, the birds will love the berries.

A fireside ninebark shrub is another perfect choice for a small-space garden.

Itealovechild small shrubsVia First Editions Plants

Love Child Sweetspire

Itea virginica, Zones 6 to 9

If you’re looking to save a lot of space, look for the Little Henry sweetspire cultivar, growing just 18 to 24 inches high. For a little more height and lovely fragrant blooms, go for Love Child (above). It grows 3 to 4 feet.

Why we love it: The shape of the flowers—long 3-inch panicles—is distinctive and delightful.

Psst—here’s even more pretty flowering bushes for your yard.

Hydrendlesssummersummercrush 132 11974 1 1073x715Via Endless Summer Hydrangeas

Summer Crush Bigleaf Hydrangea

Hydrangea macrophylla, Zones 4 to 9

Some hydrangeas grow tall while others are compact, but all boast beautiful blooms. The pink Summer Crush hydrangea (above) has gardeners excited. Grow it in full sun to partial shade; this small shrub reaches between 18 inches and 3 feet tall.

Why we love it:  A petite hydrangea with raspberry red blooms: Need we say more?

Psst—we found more breathtaking hydrangeas you need in your garden.

White spiraea flower blossomsCyndi Monaghan/Getty Images

Meadowsweet Spiraea

Spiraea alba, Zones 3 to 8

You can find a slew of compact spirea, but this Meadowsweet Spiraea (above) is one of our favorites. This upright, loose shrub grows 3 to 4 feet tall and features foliage that starts yellow-green then turns golden-yellow in the fall. It blooms white summer flowers that produce nectar and attract bumblebees.

Why we love it: Attracts birds, butterflies and bumblebees.

Love fall foliage? Check out the best fall shrubs to grow.

Diervillafirsteditionscoolsplashpp19391 24 5290 1 1073x715Via First Editions Plants

Cool Splash Dwarf Bush Honeysuckle

Diervilla lonicera, Zones 4 to 7

You won’t have to worry about disease or insect problems with this honeysuckle shrub. Look for the variegated cultivar Cool Splash (above). It’s very hardy, even in cold climates, and can take dry, sandy soils as well. It grows up to 4 1/2 feet tall, with variegated foliage and yellow flowers in the summer.

Why we love it: It’s similar to honeysuckle without invasive problems, and it’s a prolific summer bloomer that attracts butterflies.

Check out more alternatives to invasive shrubs.

ClethrasugartinacrystalinabloomPhoto courtesy of Proven Winners -

Clethra Summersweet

Clethra alnifolia, Zones 4 to 9

This popular small shrub is known for its fragrance, shade tolerance and bright summer blooms. Most clethras grow 8 to 12 feet, but now you can have this beauty in your own small space with compact versions like Sugartina Crystalina and Hummingbird.

Why we love it: It will tolerate some shade—ideal for gardeners with lots of dark areas in their backyard.

Grow a crimson bottlebrush shrub for pollinators.

Dwarf fothergilla features fuzzy, off-white flowers.Bailey Nurseries

Dwarf Fothergilla

Fothergilla gardenii, Zones 4 to 9

Growing just 2 to 3 feet tall, these bushy, low-growing shrubs are striking when grouped together along a border in full sun or partial shade. Look for showy blooms in spring, green leaves in summer, and yellow, red and orange leaves in fall. Grow it in full sun to part shade, and in rich, moist, acidic soil.

Why we love it: You’ll get three-season appeal with this beautiful small shrub.

Check out the top 10 best hummingbird bushes to grow.

small shrubs, Blue Chip Butterfly BushVia

Lo & Behold Butterfly Bush

Buddleia, Zones 5 to 9

We love this dwarf noninvasive butterfly bush. Try cultivar Blue Chip (above). It’s a very small shrub, growing only 2 feet tall and wide, making it a perfect choice for gardeners who love the blooms of butterfly bush but don’t have much space. Plant buddleia in full sun.

Why we love it: The lavender-blue flowers are heavenly, blooming from summer to frost.

Stacy Tornio
Stacy Tornio is a former editor at Birds & Blooms, and a freelance writer and author with more than 15 gardening and outdoorsy books. She tries to get as much sunshine as possible and is currently on a quest to see all the national parks in North America.