19 of the Best Shrubs for Creating Easy-Care Hedges

Green and white Japanese Pittosporum leaves
Photo: Edward Gohlich

Block wind, buffer noise, or create more private outdoor living spaces with a row of these easy-going shrubs. They offer a range of textures, loose or dense growth, evergreen or deciduous, and a few even have showy blooms or berries, but all will grow into a beautiful hedge without requiring a lot of care from you.

01 of 19

Boxwood

Row of boxwood bushes
Marty Baldwin

Setting the standard for formal clipped hedges, boxwood has the ability to withstand frequent shearing and shaping into perfect geometric forms. It can also be left unpruned to take its natural shape. This versatile evergreen hedge plant is a popular border plant for both formal and informal gardens, or you can use taller varieties to create a dense living wall to block out undesirable views.

Name: Buxus selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in evenly moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 3 feet tall

Zones: 4-9

02 of 19

Glossy Abelia

Francis Mason glossy abelia plant
Denny Schrock

Butterflies love the fragrant, trumpet-shape flowers that dangle all summer long from glossy abelia's branches. This flowering hedge plant naturally forms a tall arching mound, but you can prune it in late winter to early spring to create a lower hedge. Its dark green leaves turn purplish-bronze in autumn.

Name: Abelia x grandiflora

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 6 feet tall

Zones: 5-9

03 of 19

Flowering Quince

red double take flowering quince chaenomeles
Justin Hancock

Light up the early spring landscape with the scarlet, pink, or white blooms of flowering quince. This deciduous shrub is equipped with sharp spines that make it an effective barrier plant or privacy screen. Its flowers are followed by hard, edible, yellowish-green fruits that are delicious in preserves and jellies.

Name: Chaenomeles selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 10 feet tall

Zones: 4-8

04 of 19

Dwarf Golden False Cypress

Golden Threadleaf False Cypress
Marty Baldwin

While Japanese or Sawara false cypress tends to grow into a large tree, there are several dwarf varieties with threadlike, golden foliage and shrubby forms that make excellent evergreen hedge plants. These include 'Filifera Aurea', 'Gold Mop', and 'Sungold', each offering slight variations in foliage color and mature size.

Name: Chamaecyparis pisifera f. filifera

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 5 feet tall

Zones: 4-8

05 of 19

Japanese Euonymus

Japanese euonymus plant with trees behind
Denny Schrock

Create a more interesting landscape by selecting varieties of Japanese euonymus with gold-, cream-, or white-variegated foliage. This fast-growing hedge plant can reach towering heights, but it's easy to prune it back to grow it as a lower hedge. Its greenish-white flowers bloom in late spring and are followed by small pink fruits.

Name: Euonymus japonicus

Growing Conditions: Part shade in moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 15 feet tall

Zones: 6-9

06 of 19

Holly

Yaupon holly
Dency Kane

Many species of holly work well as hedges. Smaller hollies, such as yaupon holly (pictured here), meserve holly, and inkberry, are the easiest types to use because they don't require much pruning. Many varieties of holly bear red or orange berries, but may require a male pollinator nearby. Some are deciduous, and others like Japanese holly, are evergreen.

Name: Ilex selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 50 feet tall

Zones: 7-9

07 of 19

Juniper

icee blue juniper
Denny Schrock

Among the most versatile of evergreens, junipers range from ground-hugging creepers to mounded shrubs and upright trees. Whether you are looking for a steely blue groundcover or a tall tree for a fast-growing privacy hedge, junipers fit the bill. All respond well to pruning, making them useful hedges.

Name: Juniperus selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun in dry to moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 65 feet tall

Zones: 2-9

08 of 19

'Golden Ticket' Privet

Golden vicary privet Ligustrum x vicaryi
Dean Schoeppner

While privet has a reputation for getting out of control, 'Golden Ticket' is a newer non-invasive variety that is useful for hedges. Its glossy foliage emerges bright yellow in spring and ages to chartreuse. Clusters of fragrant, white flowers appear in summer. Without shearing, this deer-resistant, deciduous shrub develops an attractive vase shape, but feel free to give it a heavy pruning if you want a formal hedge.

Name: Ligustrum x vicaryi

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 6 feet tall

Zones: 5-8

09 of 19

Oleander

Pink Oleander Flowers with green leaves
Chipper R. Hatter

You can always count on oleander to put on a show with its abundant, fragrant flowers from summer to fall. This sub-tropical shrub thrives with little care in California and the Deep South. It tolerates drought, heat, wind, and air pollution. Its narrow, leathery leaves form a deep green backdrop for its pink, peach, white, or red blooms.

Test Garden Tip: All parts of the plant are poisonous if ingested, so avoid planting it in areas used by pets and small children.

Name: Nerium selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 8 feet tall

Zones: 8-10

10 of 19

Variegated False Holly

Goshiki variegated false holly prickly leaves
Denny Schrock

The spiny, evergreen foliage of variegated false holly resembles holly upon first glance, but if you look closer you'll notice its gold-variegated green foliage and soft spines. In mid fall, fragrant white flowers bloom along its branches. This low-maintenance shrub grows at a a slow rate and can be sheared in late winter into a tidy wall of green.

Name: Osmanthus selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 10 feet tall

Zones: 7-9

11 of 19

Japanese Pittosporum

Green and white Japanese Pittosporum leaves
Edward Gohlich

A popular evergreen shrub in the South, Japanese pittosporum has dense, compact foliage that makes it suitable for privacy screens or informal types of hedges. It can be closely sheared to create formal hedges or topiary shapes. In spring, it bears white flowers with the scent of orange blossoms.

Name: Pittosporum selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 15 feet tall

Zones: 7-11

12 of 19

Scarlet Firethorn

Mohave Pyracantha
Denny Schrock

An evergreen in mild climates but deciduous in colder regions, scarlet firethorn has stiff, thorny branches that adapt well to being trained as an espalier or as an informal hedge. It features cheery white flowers in spring and orange-red berries in summer.

Name: Pyracantha selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in dry to medium moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 18 feet tall

Zones: 6-9

13 of 19

Korean Lilac

Dwarf Korean lilac with light pink flowers
Jerry Pavia

One of the easiest lilacs to grow is Korean lilac. Also known as Meyer lilac, this deciduous shrub is covered by fragrant purple flowers in May. It's one of the few lilacs that remains under 10 feet tall and resists powdery mildew, a common plant disease. This shrub blooms on last year's stems, so prune it immediately after it flowers to ensure a good floral display the next year.

Name: Syringa meyeri

Growing Conditions: Full sun in dry to medium moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 8 feet tall

Zones: 3-7

14 of 19

Hybrid Yew

Japanese hybrid yew against gray-blue background
Jay Wilde

Known for its upright growth, hybrid yews have both the ornamental excellence of English yews and the winter hardiness of Japanese yews. These versatile evergreen shrubs have few pest problems as long as they have good soil drainage. They also don't mind regular shearing, making them popular for formal hedges and topiary.

Name: Taxus selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 20 feet tall

Zones: 4-7

15 of 19

Arborvitae

'Pyramidalis' Arborvitae near purple fence
Jay Wilde

You will almost always find arborvitae on popular hedge plants lists. This upright evergreen has flat sprays of scalelike, aromatic, yellow-green to green foliage. While some types of arborvitae grow as tall, narrow trees, other varieties are more shrublike and rounded in form, so choose carefully depending on the look you want your hedge to have.

Name: Thuja selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 40 feet tall

Zones: 2-8

16 of 19

Arrowwood Viburnum

Arrowwood Viburnum dentatum
Bill Stites

A multi-stemmed deciduous shrub, arrowwood viburnum bears creamy-white flowers in spring, blue fruits in late summer, and lovely yellow, red, or reddish-purple foliage in fall. 'Blue Muffin' arrowwood viburnum (shown here) is a compact variety that matures to 5 feet tall.

Name: Viburnum dentatum

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 10 feet tall

Zones: 2-8

17 of 19

Spirea

white Spirea Spiraea
Peter Krumhardt

Fine-textured foliage and white or pink spring flowers are two traits that characterize spirea. These deciduous shrubs also grow densely, so they are excellent for creating privacy hedges. Bridal wreath spirea, an old-fashioned variety with cascading branches covered in frothy white blooms, has been a landscape favorite for decades.

Name: Spiraea varieties

Growing Conditions: Full sun in medium moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 8 feet tall

Zones: 3-8

18 of 19

Shrub Rose

pink double knock-out rose bush
Dean Schoeppner

One of the easiest types of roses to grow is the shrub rose. These tough plants combine many of the best attributes of other types of roses. For example, shrub roses often have excellent disease resistance and are some of the easiest roses to prune. Even if you don't prune these beauties every year, they will still bloom like crazy for you.

Name: Rosa varieties

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moist, slightly acidic, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 10 feet tall

Zones: 5-9

19 of 19

Hydrangea

Patio with hydrangeas
Richard Felber

Huge bouquets of hydrangea flowers, which vary from mophead to lacecap types, look stunning from summer to fall. Varieties of hydrangea differ in size, flower shape, color, and bloom time. Know the best time to prune your chosen variety's stems to ensure the best summer blooms.

Name: Hydrangea varieties

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 15 feet tall

Zones: 3-8

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