Top 10 Small Shrubs for Small Spaces

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Yes, you do have room for an extra shrub or two—all of our picks for the top 10 shrubs for small spaces 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. Your significant other has even made threats that start with: “If you buy one more plant, I’ll.…” 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 picks as your guide to the best small shrubs 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.

Also try: You can’t beat these blooms. The purplish-blue flowers are absolutely gorgeous.

Check out 10 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.

Cotoneaster Coral Beauty 2 small shrubsVia Spring Meadow Nursery

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 abundant berries.

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 hydrangea species you need in your garden.

Spiraeabetfirsteditionspinksparkler 11 11364 1 1073x715Via First Editions Plants

Pink Sparkler Spirea

(Spiraea betulifolia, Zones 3 to 8)

You can find a slew of compact spirea, but this Pink Sparkler cultivar (above) is one of our favorites. It starts off with bright green new growth. Then come the pink summer flowers, and after that the leaves turn dark red in fall. Grow in full sun to partial shade.

Why we love it: This plant re-blooms in the fall with a second round of flowers.

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.

Clethra Sugartina Crystalina1 PwVia Bluestone Perennials

Sugartina ‘Crystalina’ Clethra

(Clethra alnifolia, Zones 4 to 9)

Clethra is a popular small shrub 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 this compact version, which reaches only 2 to 3 feet.

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

Check out easy-to-grow plants to add color to your shade garden.

blue mist fothergilla small shrubsVia Park Seed

Blue Mist Dwarf Fothergilla

(Fothergilla gardenii, Zones 5 to 8)

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. Blue Mist (above) is a cultivar with blue-green foliage.

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

Next, check out the top 10 dwarf conifers for small spaces.

Blue Chip Butterfly BushVia Monrovia

Lo & Behold Butterfly Bush

(Buddleia, Zones 5 to 9)

We love this dwarf noninvasive butterfly bush. Try cultivar Blue Chip Jr. (above). It’s a very small shrub, growing only 1 or 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 in full sun.

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

Learn how to care for and prune butterfly bush.

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Stacy Tornio
Stacy Tornio is 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.