When planted in sites with appropriate conditions and space, small shrubs offer years of low-maintenance color and texture. Before selecting shrubs, consider soil and moisture requirements, shrubs' mature heights and spreads, and the amount of light your site receives. If your house blocks sunlight for two to three hours a day, the site receives light shade; sites that receive three to four hours of sunlight are considered partially shaded.
Evergreens for Sun to Light Shade
Rose Creek abelia thrives in full sun and well-drained soil. This little evergreen grows to 3 feet tall with an equal spread and is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 to 9. With glossy foliage and white flowers that bloom from summer through fall, the Rose Creek abelia is an attractive addition to the front yard.
The Carissa and Rotunda Chinese hollies also offer shiny, dark-green foliage. These shrubs grow to 4 feet tall with a 5-foot spread and are hardy in zones 7 to 9. Plant in sun to light shade and well-drained soil.
Deciduous for Sun to Light Shade
Japanese spirea thrives in sites with full sun to light shade and well-drained soil. Hardy in zones 4 to 8, this adaptable shrub tolerates drought and produces pink summer flowers. Cultivars Shirobana and Anthony Waterer grow from 2 to 4 feet tall with an equal spread. Goldflame and Gold Mound varieties offer golden-yellow foliage.
The snowmound spirea also prefers full sun to light shade and tolerates dry soil. This shrub grows quickly to 5 feet tall with a similar spread and blooms with mounds of white blossoms in spring. The snowmound spirea is hardy in zones 4 to 7.
Evergreens for Partial Shade
The creeping gardenia offers fragrant summer blooms and attractive, variegated green and white foliage. This spreading shrub grows to 3 feet tall with a 4-foot spread and thrives in partial shade. Creeping gardenias are hardy in zones 7b to 10 and require protection from winter sun and wind.
Poet's laurel also has attractive foliage. This slow-growing, broadleaf evergreen has glossy, bright-green, tapered leaves and produces red-orange autumn berries. Hardy in zones 7b to 9, plant poet's laurel in sites with partial to full shade and rich, moist soil.
Deciduous for Partial Shade
The Virginia sweetspire, a North American native shrub, thrives in partial shade and moist or wet soil. Hardy in zone 5 to 9, the Virginia sweetspire cultivars Little Henry and Merlot grow to 4 feet high with a slightly larger spread. These shrubs produces drooping spikes of white flowers clusters in spring. Foliage turns red, orange and yellow in autumn.
Winter jasmine also prefers partial shade. This deciduous shrub tolerates a range of soils, from heavy clay to sand, and is hardy in zones 6 to 10. Winter jasmine grows quickly to 4 feet tall with a wide spread up to 7 feet. This jasmine blooms in late winter through early spring with aromatic yellow blossoms.