Busy modern lives require plants that can contribute beauty to the garden without taking much of our time in return. Evergreen plants are particularly low-maintenance because you don’t even have to rake their leaves once a year.
Woody shrubs are generally lower-maintenance than perennials because they do not die back and do not need to have their dead foliage removed. Woody shrubs can also often do without deadheading, which saves a lot of time.
Anah Kruschke Rhododendron
Anah Kruschke Rhododendron (Rhododendron ‘Anah Kruschke’) is a sturdy rhododendron that thrives in full sun on the coast, part shade elsewhere. It blooms purple in May, is evergreen and has deep green leaves.
Anah Kruschke Rhododendron tolerates difficult conditions such as wind or poor soil, though it does prefer good drainage. It doesn’t need any maintenance once established, though removing spent flowers will improve appearance and vigor.
It thrives in USDA Zones 5b to 9 and grows to eight to 10 feet tall and wide.
Fragrant Sarcococca (Sarcococca ruscifolia) is a fragrant evergreen plant with tiny white flowers in winter, followed by red berries, which age to a glossy black. Fragrant Sarcococca grows slowly to five feet tall, and is known for its tolerance of difficult soil conditions. It prefers shade, and is one of the few plants that thrives in deep shade.
Fragrant Sarcococca grows well in USDA Zones 7 to 9, and beyond needing regular watering, needs little maintenance. Because it is a slow grower, light pruning for shape need only take place every two years.
Little Heath Lily of the Valley Shrub
Little Heath Lily of the Valley Shrub (Pieris ‘Little Heath’) is a slow growing shrub which reaches three to four feet tall and wide. It thrives in part sun, and has brightly variegated foliage which contrasts well with other garden plants. Its compact growth habit means it almost never needs pruning, and it is tough enough that it needs little care once established.
Little Heath Lily of the Valley Shrub is evergreen and has white bell-shaped flowers in spring, which have a light honey scent. The plant’s new growth is a reddish-bronze color. It thrives in USDA Zones 5 to 9.
Darwin’s Barberry (Berberis darwinii) is a tough plant that is deer-resistant and needs nearly no maintenance. It has masses of golden blooms in January to February, and then develops berries which attract birds, but do not become messy in a landscape setting.
It has evergreen foliage and grows to six feet tall, and it grows well in USDA Zones 7 to 10. The leaves are prickly, so would make an excellent evergreen screen to keep intruders from entering the garden.
Coastal Gem Grevillea
Coastal Gem Grevillea (Grevillera lanigera ‘Coastal Gem’) is useful as a low-maintenance garden plant, because it has a compact habit that never needs pruning for size or shape if placed appropriately in the garden. It is an evergreen plant which blooms year-round, and can shade out weeds in the garden because it grows to two feet tall and five feet wide.
It prefers full sun, is drought-tolerant and needs good drainage. Coastal Gem Grevillea thrives in USDA zones 8 to 10 and has cheerful red flowers, which are an interesting beaked shape.