Many homeowners find their gardening skills challenged by small lots. Others want to maintain attractive views. An answer for both is to use low-growing hedge plants. These compact plants offer all the ornamental interest of larger shrubs without obstructing views or taking up a lot of space. They define perennial beds, make good container plants, and look appropriate near dwarf trees. Some of low-growing hedge plants also bloom from spring to fall.
Glossy Abelia ' Silver Anniversary'
Glossy abelia (Abelia x grandiflora) 'Silver Anniversary' is a deciduous, low-growing hedge plant hardy to minus 10 degrees F. Growing just 3 feet high and wide, it's a densely branched, round honeysuckle-family shrub. 'Silver Anniversary' provides ongoing garden interest with its reddish-green, silver or creamy-edged variegated leaves. Between May and September, the plant also has clusters of fragrant, 3/4-inch funnel-shaped white flowers.
Use it, recommends the Missouri Botanical Garden, for erosion control on slopes or banks, in shrub borders or as a foundation or rock garden planting. 'Silver Anniversary' flowers best in full sun. Give it moist, fertile, well-drained soil. Plants may die to the ground in winter at the lower end of their hardiness range. Prune any damaged wood back in early spring. Flowering occurs on new growth.
Japanese Barberry 'Bagatelle'
'Bagatelle' (Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea 'Bagatelle') is a deciduous Japanese barberry cultivar growing from 12 to 18 inches high and wide. Hardy to minus 30 degrees F, it has heavily stemmed, thorny branches and reddish-copper foliage. Leaves often conceal the plant's tiny yellow April and May flowers. The pollution-tolerant shrub's brilliant red autumn berries bring birds to the garden, sometimes persisting through the winter. A single shrub is an attractive small-area specimen, says the Missouri Botanical Garden. Thorns make 'Bagatelle' useful as a barrier hedge. Plant it in full sun--for best leaf color--to partial shade and averagely moist, well-drained soil.
Bluebeard 'Grand Bleu'
Bluebeard 'Grand Bleu' (Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Inoveris' Grand Bleu) is an 18- to-30-inch-high plant hardy to minus 20 degrees F. This mounding shrub has fragrant, glossy dark green oval leaves. From July to September, clusters of fragrant, dark blue flowers conceal the foliage and attract butterflies and bees. Their airy appearance accounts for bluebeard's other name of "blue mist."
Plant 'Grand Bleu' in loose, well-drained loam and full sun. Plants in poorly drained locations may develop crown rot. Use this shrub as a low hedge, or in a perennial or shrub border, recommends the Missouri Botanical Garden. Plants may die to the ground in winter where temperatures approach minus 20 degrees F. They re-emerge in spring. Pruning them back will encourage dense new growth.