Include dwarf evergreen shrubs in your garden plan if space is a problem. Most dwarf varieties do not grow more than 2 or 3 feet high, forming suitable ground covers or covering undesirable sights in the lawn. Grow the trees to form a short border or cover bare trunks of taller trees. Evergreens retain their foliage throughout the year, sprucing up the landscape during the cold months when others become bare. You can select from many types of dwarf evergreen flowering and nonflowering shrubs.
The sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia) is a dwarf evergreen that grows 3 feet in height. The flowering plant produces clusters of bell-shaped blooms in June and July that appear in shades of white, purple and pink. Native to Eastern Canada and Northeastern United States, the hardy, open-crowned plant tolerates temperatures up to minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit common in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zone 1.
Small-leaved cotoneaster is an evergreen shrub that grows 3 feet tall. Hardy in USDA zones 5 to 7, the shrub produces lustrous deep-green foliage and tiny white flowers in the spring. The drought-tolerant dwarf shrub tolerates a range of soils but prefers well-draining soil exposed to full sun or partial shade.
Juniperus Virginiana "Grey Owl"
Thriving in USDA zones 2 through 9, Grey Owl juniper is a dwarf evergreen that features a moderate to slow growth habit. The tips of its branches sometimes turn purple in the winter, and the shrub produces striking gray-blue or silver needles. The Grey Owl juniper grows to 3 feet tall with a 5- to 6-foot spread. It spreads horizontally with ascending branches -- a shape that makes it suitable for screening delicate plants or forming a low-growing natural border. The shrub prefers well-drained soil exposed to full sun.
American Arborvitae "Bobozam"
An American or eastern arborvitae naturally grows 50 feet high, but horticulturalists have designed a few dwarf varieties that mature at 2 to 5 feet. One variety is Bobozam, or Mr. Bowling Ball, because of its perfectly rounded shape that gives it the appearance of a large ball. This dwarf variety grows 3 feet tall and wide, and produces medium-green, dense foliage.
Native to the mountains of Eastern United Stated, rat-stripper or camby paxistima (Paxistima canbyi) is a dwarf evergreen that grows 12 inches tall and 3 to 4 feet wide. The shrub is a multistemmed, low-growing shrub that forms a suitable ground cover. The evergreen produces clusters of tiny red or green flowers in May. Camby paxistima prefers well-draining, slightly moist soils with a high pH that are exposed to full sun.
- Cornell University Cooperative Extension: List of Dwarf Shrubs and Low-Growing Plants Suitable for Foundation Plantings
- North Carolina State University: Juniperus Virginiana "Grey Owl"
- North Carolina State University: Littleleaf Cotoneaster
- University of Connecticut: Thuja Occidentalis
- University of Connecticut: Paxistima Canbyi
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