Top 15 Small Shrubs for Small Spaces

Updated: Jan. 22, 2024

Freshen up your front yard with these short, stylish bushes—all of our expert picks for the top 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. Use our top picks as your guide to the best small shrubs for small spaces.

Did you know: Even full-size shrubs can work in compact spaces. Certain “root-hardy” options that die back in colder climates—such as bluebeard, chaste tree and butterfly bush—can be cut to the ground in early spring and allowed to regrow.

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

Ways to Use Small Shrubs in Your Yard

  • as a focal point in a larger container
  • to give year-round structure to a garden bed
  • by a foundation
  • to attract wildlife to smaller spaces

Delights Of Summer: Deutzia 'raspberry Sundae' (nature Brief)Katrin Ray Shumakov/Getty Images

Raspberry Sundae Deutzia

Deutzia hybrid, Zones 5 to 9

Unlike other deutzia varieties that grow 6 feet or taller, this compact, rounded cultivar grows 3 to 4 feet tall and wide. It features arching stems and large panicles of purple-pink flowers that attract bees and butterflies from midspring to midsummer.

Why we love it: The slightly fragrant flowers are white with pink edges, while the golden yellow foliage is a delightful treat in fall.

Pwweigela Midnight Wine Shine

Midnight Wine Shine Weigela

Weigela florida ‘SMNWFMS’, Zones 4 to 8

The beloved Midnight Wine shrub gets an update with this pick. Enjoy its dark, glossy leaves, and look for hummingbirds at the tube-shaped pink blooms that arrive in spring and last into early summer. Grow in a spot with full sun and watch it reach 1 to 1 1/2 feet high and 2 or more feet wide.

Why we love it: Deer are usually not a problem for this plant.

Grow a crimson bottlebrush shrub for pollinators.


Bollywood Azalea

Rhododendron ‘Farrow’, Zones 6 to 9

This semievergreen shrub is hard to miss in spring when neon pink flowers appear. But it’s no one-trick wonder, as the variegated green and cream foliage proves. Bollywood’s mounded habit maxes out around 3 feet high and 2 feet wide.

Why we love it: The flowers attract butterflies, and the leaves almost glow in a moon garden at night.

Rhododendron vs azalea: how to tell the difference.

Pw Beyond Midnight Caryopteris

Beyond Midnight Bluebeard

Caryopteris x clandonensis, Zones 5 to 9

At just 24 to 30 inches tall and wide, this pollinator favorite has deep blue flowers atop glossy green foliage. It’s a drought-tolerant option with a mounded habit that is neater than other bluebeards.

Why we love it: Add Beyond Midnight for a burst of color in the late-summer garden, where it’ll continue blooming into fall.

Check out our favorite dwarf flowering shrubs for containers.

Pw Jazz Hands Mini

Jazz Hands Mini Chinese Fringe-Flower

Loropetalum chinense, Zones 7 to 9

From ground cover to container plant, Jazz Hands Mini is a pick worth exploring. It’s just 1 foot tall but grows 3 feet wide, so it is handy at filling blank spaces with its handsome black-purple foliage.

Why we love it: The frilly pink flowers have an intriguing shape, and look especially good against the dark leaves.

Cultivar Dwarf Mountain Pine Pinus Mugo Var. Pumilio In The Rocky Garden.Sicha69/Getty Images

Mugo Pine

Pinus mugo, Zones 2 to 7

Compact cultivars of mugo pine offer year-round visual appeal with condensed forms and dark green needles. As drought-tolerant shrubs, they look particularly good partnered with rocks and boulders or as part of a dwarf conifer garden. Prune one-half to two-thirds of the expanded growth, called candles, in early spring to control its size.

Why we love it: You can find a cultivar of this pine to fit in almost any yard space.

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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.

Blossoming,bearberry,cotoneaster,or,cotoneaster,dammeri,shrub,with,beautiful,whiteUhryn Larysa/Shutterstock

Coral Beauty Cotoneaster

Cotoneaster x suecicus, Zones 5 to 8

This drought-tolerant ground cover shrub is just 1 to 2 feet tall, but can spread out up to 6 feet in length. It offers white flowers in spring and pretty red berries set against purple-tinged evergreen foliage in fall.

Why we love it: Cotoneaster can help control erosion, and the ornamental berries attract birds.

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


Little Henry Sweetspire

Itea virginica, Zones 5 to 9

Popular with pollinators, Little Henry delights in spring or summer with white, fragrant flower panicles and again in fall when leaves turn to hues of orange and red. It’ll reach 3 to 4 feet tall and wide.

Why we love it: Plant Little Henry almost anywhere in spots ranging from full sun to full shade, and in areas with poor drainage too.

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

Pw Little Quick Fire Hydrangea

Little Quick Fire Panicle Hydrangea

Hydrangea paniculata, Zones 3 to 8

An award-winning dwarf version of the popular Quick Fire panicle hydrangea, this features creamy white flowers that age to attractive hues of deep pink. It matures at just 3 to 5 feet tall and wide, and can even be grown in a container.

Why we love it: As the name suggests, it fires up flowers quickly, blooming a month before most panicle hydrangeas, and it extends the hydrangea season.

Backyard tip: Some hydrangeas are especially suited for smaller spots in a landscape. Try Tiny Tuff Stuff mountain hydrangea, Invincibelle Wee White smooth hydrangea or Little Quick Fire panicle hydrangea, depending on your region.

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 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.

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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. 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.

Close Up,of,flowering,white,dwarf,fothergilla,(fothergilla,gardenii),in,spring.Maglido Photography/Shutterstock

Dwarf Fothergilla

Fothergilla gardenii, Zones 4 to 9

This standout has creamy white bottlebrush flowers in spring with a light honey scent, dark green to blue-green foliage during summer and a fiery mix of orange and red leaves in fall. The dense, mounded shrub, native to the southeastern U.S., is 2 to 3 feet tall and slightly wider at maturity.

Why we love it: Dwarf fothergilla rewards you with intrigue in three of the four seasons.

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Lo & Behold Butterfly Bush

Buddleia, Zones 5 to 9

We love this dwarf noninvasive butterfly bush. Try cultivar Blue Chip. 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.

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