Plants for a Small Garden

Just because the garden is small does not mean it cannot be filled with colorful flowers and lush, green foliage. In fact, there are many small, low-growing plants that have bright blooms that help to create an attractive garden but without taking up a lot of space. To keep the small garden looking open, sketch out a blueprint or outline to refer to as you go along and don't be afraid to take out plants if it appears overcrowded.

Blue Fescue

Blue fescue (Festuca glauca, Festuca ovina var. glauca) is a semi-evergreen ornamental grass that is suitable grown in USDA zones 4 to 9. It grows 6 to 10 inches tall and wide and is an ideal plant to grow within a small garden. Blue fescue has a low-growing, clumping growth rate and upright, mounding form that is dense and tufted. The upright, textured, needle-like blades are blue to green and make for an ideal ground cover or accent plant within the garden. Radiating upward, blue fescue holds the early summer-blooming pale green flowers that appear on the terminal panicles that sit atop the erect stems. Blue fescue grows best in full sun but withstands light shade.


Tickseed (Coreopsis rosea 'Sweet Dreams') is a perennial flower with a rapid growth rate that grows in USDA zones 6 to 8. It grows 6 to 12 inches tall and has a spread of 1 to 3 feet, making for an ideal plant to grow within a small garden. The daisy-like, 1 1/2 -inch-long, white-edged petals have a raspberry center and attract butterflies and bumblebees to the garden. The pale green mounds of grass-like foliage on tickseed appears in summer to last into early fall. Tickseed grows best in full sun and well-drained, moist soil. To ensure an upright plant, prune back tickseed in late spring and to ensure another round of blooms, cut back in late summer.

Carissa Holly

Carissa holly (Ilex cornuta 'Carissa') is an evergreen shrub that has a slow growth rate. It grows up to 4 feet tall and has a spread of 4 to 6 feet wide. Carissa holly has a compact, mounded form that is dense and rounded. The leather-like, dark green to olive green, 2- to 3-inch-long leaves each end at a terminal spine. As an evergreen, carissa holly shrubs retain their colorful foliage all year long, including winter when the landscape is oftentimes colorless and dreary. Versatile, carissa holly is both drought- and heat-tolerant. They grow best in full sun to part shade and grow in a wide variety of soil types. Plant carissa holly is USDA zones 7 to 9.

Keywords: small garden plants, blue fescue, tickseed, Carissa holly

About this Author

Callie Barber has been writing professionally since 2002. Barber's love for design and writing inspired her to create Design Your Revolution, a blog that shares creative and affordable ways to decorate indoor and outdoor living environments. Her articles have appeared on and Barber holds a Bachelors of Arts in international studies from the University of North Carolina.