Suppose you live in any major city in the United States and don’t own a real estate property there. Chances are you’re most likely renting a condominium or apartment. These living spaces usually don’t have a lot of space for a garden. You will have to work with what’s available with the property you have.
But suppose you think that the small garden you have will only feature uninteresting lumps of green dotting a landscape. You probably want to reassess your assumption because various compact bushes bloom flowers with assorted colors.
Here’s a summary of some of the many options you can choose between. It includes many of the best low-maintenance dwarf shrubs, categorized by features and characteristics.
Benefits of these
Versatility is the most obvious benefit of these dwarf shrubs you can put in your garden. However, they offer more benefits than what meets the eye.
For shade-loving folks, be sure to put them on the sides of your house where the sun rises and sets (east and west). They provide a cool shade in the morning and the afternoon when the summer season arrives. During the fall, you’ll enjoy the warmth of the sun’s rays as the leaves drop off. Meanwhile, the ones planted in the northern part of your house protect you from the cold winds of the winter.
The Angelica Blue Juniper below grows to about 4 feet, spanning 8 feet in width.
Food and Shelter for Birds
Your miniature garden will help birds roam the city with shelter during winter. Since some are also fruit-bearing, they would be convenient in sustaining birds when food is not abundant. Some bear colorful flowers that attract hummingbirds and sometimes butterflies as well.
If you pick the right kind, then your tiny garden could sport multi-colored bushes dotting all over the landscape. This may range from blooming pretty flowers that you’ll see in the spring and summer or multi-colored berries in autumn. Deciduous ones also beautify your garden during the fall and winter seasons. It’s when the leaves turn yellow to orange to brown or their textural bark.
Like most vegetation, they improve the air quality by absorbing the carbon dioxide in the air. They also help keep the soil fertile and intact. It reduces the chances of soil erosion and minimizes stormwater runoff and hazardous chemicals running in the waterways.
They are probably among the most reliable plants globally because they will thrive under the right soil and climate conditions. A lot of them will live for many years and beautify your home.
There are almost a hundred types as far as botanical science is concerned. For this article, we will only feature 18 to get you acquainted with them. They are as follows:
- Winter Creeper
- Japanese Laurel
- European Box Plant
- Daphne Odora
- Fatsia Japonica
- Rose of Sharon
- Persian Shield
- Purple Ninebark
- Siberian Carpet Cypress
- Juniper “Blue Star”
- Yew “Densiformis”
- Dwarf Norway Spruce
- Juniper “Sea Green” and Juniper “Mathot”
How to Grow Them
We’re trying to protect the ozone layer with the Montreal protocol. You will also want to ensure that all your garden flowers are grown securely, such as your Hibiscus or shrubs.
Select the Location
Take note of which soil is the plant most suited to grow before selecting a planting site. Determine its soil and light requirements. If they attain maximum growth in full display of the sun and well-drained soil, avoid planting it in a location that’s different from its needs. It’s common knowledge that they don’t grow tall or big. Consider its growth nonetheless and avoid planting it near potential obstacles that exist. Otherwise, it may create unnecessary problems in the future that will add to your already busy schedule pruning it.
Dig the Planting Hole
When you dig the planting hole, make sure that it’s 2 – 3 feet wider than the entirety of the root system. That way, the roots can spread unhindered to get water and nutrients for the plant. The digging depth should be the full length of the root ball. Puncture the soil around the plant with a gardening shovel lightly after planting it. It ensures nitrogen absorption of the soil and gives proper nutrients to the plant.
Remove it from the pot and inspect the root ball. You may notice that the root growth is compact as it grows in the tight space of the pot. Use a sharp tool like a trowel or pruners to loosen the roots. Once the roots have been loosened, put them in the hole you dug earlier. When you cover the hole with dirt, make sure that the tip of the trunk connecting to the root ball is at ground level. Firmly but gently press the soil in place while being careful not to pack the soil too tightly.
Water the shrub immediately so that the roots will take hold. It signals the plant that it is healthy, allowing it to grow. Moreover, it helps reduce the shock of the roots while being transplanted from one location to another. Keep the watering under a watchful eye for the newly planted garden addition. You should be careful for about 6 months. Make sure it’s moist, especially during summer or droughts.
Pour 2 – 3 inches of mulch, creating a layer surrounding the base. The mulch will benefit the plant as it helps keep moisture in the ground and ward off weeds. Just don’t pour them directly at the base of the trunk. They might do more harm than good by condensing water where it should not be.
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The Dwarf Burford Holly below grows to about 4-6 feet, spanning 5 feet in width.
Small, Evergreen Ones
If you want a small and evergreen option, here’s the list you’ve been looking for.
Winter Heath (Erica carnea)
Many first-time gardening enthusiasts are impressed with its unusual blooming period. The reason why it is called winter heath is (you guessed it) because it blooms in the winter. It is opposite to typical shrubs. It may even bloom for about 6 months or more under the right climate conditions. It grows to roughly 1 foot and spreads symmetrically with its height, or sometimes twice it. It thrives on slopes and rock gardens.
Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia ‘Minuet’)
If you’ve ever walked through the New England woods in summer, then you must have already seen this type. It’s Connecticut’s state flower. The wild laurel bushes in the forest normally grow large with thick foliage. The minute version will grow to no more than 3 feet in height. This variety has one more advantage than its forest cousins. It boasts more colorful flowers. Prune the bush periodically after each blooming season to keep it looking full and bushy.
Blue Star Juniper (Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’)
This plant gets so big because it grows thick foliage. If you want to have blue spruce trees in your garden but need to adjust to the small places, choose the blue star juniper. This type has a mean growth of 1 – 3 feet tall with an equally dimension spread. You should plant it next to bushes with golden foliage as its short blue-green needles create a perfect color contrast. You can also create a ground cover if you plant them en masse.
‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’ (Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’)
The euonymus is a genus of the evergreen family with unique leaf variegation. For this reason, it is called ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’ as it possesses the bicolored feature in its leaves. Two-thirds of its leaves sport the emerald color, while their edges are gold-colored. This bush is also a dwarf, and its maximum height is 2 feet high with a 2 – 4-foot spread. This plant is resilient and can grow in almost any environment, making it a potentially invasive bush type. But as long as you keep pruning it, you can hold it at bay.
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Small, Flowering Bushes
This compact flowering perennial option is excellent for small places. Their maximum height is just 2 or 3 feet and is equally widespread. The chances of any bud freezing are low because panicle hydrangeas flower on new wood. The flare hydrangea has a unique cone-shaped flower that initially blooms white but turns bright red-pink when they age. You should preferably plant them in an area where they can get 4 – 6 hours of sunlight daily. It’ll ensure they’ll grow thick foliage and bloom beautifully every season.
This tiny compact cultivar belongs in the honeysuckle and is very useful in your garden. The leaves of the Nightglow Diervilla are a deep burgundy and will grow to no more than 3 feet tall and wide. It will save you time to do any pruning. You may notice that the flowers are shaped like a trumpet with a canary-yellow shade. They bloom throughout the spring and summer as bees and hummingbirds come to get the nectar from these clusters. The nightglow bush requires at least 6 hours of sunlight, and it’s quite resilient during winter. It can survive at temperatures of up to – 30 °F.
Bella Bellissima Potentilla
Its bright pinkish-red colored flowers are one the most attractive features of the Bella Bellissima potentilla. The potentilla option helps espouse all kinds of beneficial insects. Gardeners can help attract good bugs through it without additional paraphernalia. This will grow at a maximum height of 2 – 3 feet tall with similar dimensions to its width. It will regularly blossom in both the spring and summer seasons. Shearing and deadheading are optional as they can hamper the continuous blooming of the plant. This variety can withstand up to – 50 °F temperatures during winter. There’s no need to worry about it dying throughout the 4 seasons each year.
Rainbow Fizz Spirea
The botanist that gave this guy its name, rainbow fizz. It is spot on when describing this plant’s copper, yellow, and red foliage mixture. Although it is taller than the others in this article, it’s still the smallest in the spirea family. You’ll see clusters of pinkish-red colored flower buds bloom to a faint pink hue during summer.
Peach Lemonade Rose
The multi-colored light range of the flowers of the peach lemonade rose will captivate anyone who loves gardening in an instant! They bear a bright yellow color at the beginning of the blooming season. Then they turn light pink once they age. If you’ve planted these, you should get a breathtaking view. It will accentuate the entire landscaping of the area. This variety will grow shy short of 3 feet tall, perfect for your miniature garden.
Low-Growing Bushes that Stay Small
Franklin’s Gem Boxwood
Boxwood ones are known as the most favored evergreen due to the following reasons. They’re low-maintenance and deer-resistant. They’re also insect resistant and will accentuate your garden with colors all year round. Trim them to form different shapes and sizes. One of the best examples of boxwood bush is Franklin’s Gem. It’s essentially a dwarf shrub that grows to a maximum height of 2 feet and is typically rounded. If you occasionally prune it, it elevates any landscape to a fresh and sophisticated look.
Magic Carpet Spirea
As the name suggests, it enhances your garden with pink flowers and lime green leaves. Freshly grown foliage also has a red hue but turns into vibrant gold at maturity. Planting them in soil with black mulch makes their growth unhampered. You’ll have two perfectly good reasons why you need to include this on your list. Its vibrant gold leaves and pretty pink flowers. Its max growth height reaches about 1.5 – 2 feet. If planted in rows, you’ll have your own personal enchanted garden.
Dwarf Norway Spruce
The famous professional landscaping 3D designer Tony Gullo is fond of using the dwarf Norway spruce in his designs. He stated that he likes them because they’re limited to growing up to 3 feet in height. They have a nice rounded shape and are resilient. This should be on your list of itineraries as it adds superb beauty to the surroundings all year round.
Pink Elf French Hydrangea
Planting this elf French hydrangea in shady places in your garden would be a sensible choice. At only 1 and 1/2 feet max height and compact size, this will make the landscape appear very neat. The pink elf French hydrangea’s flowers are shaped like a mophead and have a vibrant rose-pink color. It lasts a long time after it blooms. Gardeners love this option because it’s low maintenance and is excellent when used as cut flowers.
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Four out of five photographers choose to do photoshoots with their models with a field full of English lavender in the background. Sometimes, they take photos of the field itself. This Mediterranean herb has one of the most beautiful blooming purple flowers and a sweet scent to make perfumes. Not only will you add beauty, but you can also make them as a fragrant hedge. Impress people who walk past it.
If you prune the butterfly bush by late August, it should have enough time to grow new branches and bloom by fall. It will ensure they do not die off in winter. Once their roots take hold in your garden, they maintain themselves freeing up your schedule for other tasks. You’ll love this choice because they attract all types of butterflies when they bloom. It adds beautiful colors to your already impressive collection of other plants.
You’ll appreciate the beauty of this bush during late spring to early summer. It blooms with white, fringe-like flowers. Then it bears bluish-black fruits that birds love. They’re even lovelier during fall, with their leaves shifting from bright shades of green to golden yellow. This tree can withstand air pollution and has no pests. It’s great as it requires no pruning. The only downside to this tree is that it grows from 12 – 20 feet. You may need to choose a specific location in your garden to plant it.
When they mature, they look strikingly similar to coral reefs in the sea. That’s where they get the name from. These plants are amenable, whether in full sunlight or shady parts of your garden. They bring a multitude of colors to beautify the landscape. You can get creative with your photographs. Use them as a background or invite guests over and impress them with your collection. Coral bells are deer-resistant and require low to zero maintenance.
Low Growing Bushes for the Front of the House
This plant variety of the yew family is an ideal option with thick foliage that looks like glossy green needles. This bush has a maximum growth height of 3 – 4 feet tall. The Densiformis genus of the yew is great for the shady areas in your garden. The Anglo-Japanese yew is perfect for enhancing your house foundations because it’s low-maintenance and drought-tolerant. It even has evergreen leaves. The best place to put it is in front of your house. It can thrive in everything from full sunlight to fully shaded areas.
It is also great for foundations and has a wide-spreading growth, which is great for your tiny garden. The dwarf version of the English yew grows from 2 – 4 feet tall.
Rhododendron ‘April Rose’
The April rose is one of the most cold-resistant semi-dwarf types of botany. Its broad green leaves and beautiful purple flowers will be a great addition. Growing from 3 to 4 feet tall, it makes this bush has excellent perimeter foliage.
Thuja occidentalis ‘Fire Chief’
This option looks like a tiny Christmas tree with dense feathery foliage under the snow. Its leaves turn from dark green to bright yellow to red during the fall season. Maybe you’re looking to fill your garden with foundation plantings and low hedges. You should opt for this dwarf arborvitae shrub. The fire chief has a max growth height of about 3 – 4 feet high.
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Small Options for Full Sun
Sonic Bloom Pink Weigela
This has some impressive tricks up its sleeves. It keeps blooming for almost 2/3 of the year! Its pink colors attract hummingbirds across vast distances. Expect to see them a lot as your weigela puts up a stunning show. The sonic boom pink weigela grows from 4 – 5 feet tall at maturity and spreads at the same width.
Wine and Roses Weigela
Perhaps nothing else will excite garden enthusiasts than watching floral fireworks in their garden with the wine and roses weigela. Its rosy tube-like flowers highlight the bush during late spring. They attract hummingbirds and other insects that want to suck the nectars in them. The contrast between the dark green leaves and bright pink flowers is very pleasing to the eyes. You’ll be happy to know that it blooms irregularly throughout the summer season. Prune the bush after each bloom to keep it blossoming.
To give your garden a different appeal, why not go for the orange blossoms scent? That’s exactly what the mock orange variety does when it blooms in late spring to early summer. It releases a fragrance that smells a lot like oranges. Choose mock orange varieties that have single or double flowers and plant them along the walkway or patio. That way, you can appreciate the fragrance each time you visit your garden.
Midnight Wine Weigela
A very tiny weigela shrub but is excellent for your garden nevertheless. It grows to about 10 – 12 inches tall at maturity, with foliage spread at 18 – 24 inches wide. It is the smallest of the weigela varieties. It’s also the best choice for bedding plants or edging paths. Its pink buds will bloom starting early to late spring.
While technically not a dwarf shrub, we still recommend the Forsythia with its beautiful flowers. It will also provide slightly more privacy. The dappled willow is another fast-growing addition that does well in full sun!
Ones with Small White, Fragrant Flowers
The star jasmine is the evergreen family that blooms fragrant white flowers in summer and climbs wood trees and walls.
Anne Russell Viburnum
The viburnum’s clusters of pink flowers will remind you of a wedding day bouquet of the bride. This compact deciduous plant has beautiful flowers to display and a sweet scent.
The Christmas box is another great option with strong, fragrant white flowers blooming during winter. You can opt to plant it in a small container and place it by your window to catch that fresh scent every morning.
The name Mexican Orange also goes by the name Mexican Orange Blossom. The Choisya ‘Aztec Pearl’ boasts exuberant white flowers in late spring.
This one is perfect for the walkways and entrances to your garden. The Burkwood Osmanthus provides an amazing view with its high contrast of colors between its deep green leaves and tiny white fragrant flowers.
The Daphne is a typical deciduous shrub that blooms in early spring with purple-pink flowers that are also fragrant. You may want to be cautious when getting in close to smell the flowers because they’re toxic to dogs and cats.
If you want an extravagant floral display and have enough space in your landscape, you definitely should plant this one! The white-edged, single bloom cluster purple flower array that opens in mid-spring is mesmerizing. This shrub is not a dwarf but grows from 8 – 10 feet tall and spreads to about 8 – 12 feet wide.
Small Options for Part Shade
The mountain laurels resemble elegant China wares clustered together, contrasting its evergreen leaves. Its beautiful flowers bloom during late spring. If you want this to bloom regularly in its season, prune it after each bloom. Use acid-enhanced fertilizer for it to thrive.
An array of colorful flowers adorn this tiny bush ranging from yellow, purple, pink, and orange. It will drive you bonkers when you see them bloom. The Japanese rose is one of the most shade-tolerant shrubs you can find. It may also open its flowers several times a year, which means you’ll be seeing a lot of those colorful and lovely flowers.
Climbing hydrangeas are vines and not shrubs. However, you can control their spread and make them look like ones. They yield great floral displays when they get enough sunlight, but they’re also tolerant to shaded areas.
Carol Mackie Daphne
Giving the carol Mackie daphne enough sunlight will enhance their growth and allow consistent floral blooms each season. The Daphne’s flowers have a sweet aromatic smell that makes it very pleasing to stand next to them when they’re in full bloom. Keep in mind not to plant this guy in acidic soil as it will choke them.
Suppose you’re looking for one with a high tolerance to deeply shaded areas. You ought to plant the leatherleaf arrowwood in your garden. On cloudy days, their attractive foliage and clustered white flowers are attractive.
While this produces flowers in small amounts and rarely blooms, its evergreen leaves are enough reason to grow them anywhere. The inkberry also goes by dye leaves and evergreen winterberry. It is a native species of holly of the Eastern and Southern United States.
As far as having attractive flowers is concerned, the Japanese Andromeda has got it in spades. They’re very easy to maintain as they thrive in fully shaded areas, plus they can survive in droughts too!
This variety is usually grown for ornamental purposes due to its dense, evergreen foliage. You may think this plant is unattractive because it’s not producing any flowers. It’s one of those plants that make great landscaping. The Japanese holly is native to eastern China, Korea, Taiwan, and Japan.
Euonymus, Low-Growing Options
The eastern wahoo resembles the fire tree with its beautiful scarlet-red fruits that overshadow its leaves. Native to North America, this will grow up to 20 feet tall and spread its foliage 25 feet wide.
A perfect groundcover option features deep green leaves during spring and summer but changes to a pink/rose color in fall. The Euonymus Fortunei ‘Coloratus’ is a must on the list for your garden.
It’s safe to say that the person who named this may have thought about the story of Moses in the Bible. During the fall season, this looks like a “burning bush” from some distance away. It is because its leaves turn bold flame red. It also produces reddish-purple berries that birds love. It’s not a dwarf shrub as it can grow up to 20 feet tall and spread up to 10 feet wide.
Certain plants are guaranteed to uplift the entire appearance of your front yard. Amongst the most celebrated options stands shrub Roses, Azaleas, Lavender, Forsythia, and Hydrangeas.
From Forsythia to the more classic English lavender, spring is guaranteed to stay all year round.
Typically low-growing shrubs are planted around the fence of the house. This includes plants like Yew and Juniper. Holly and Boxwood are other good examples. But for sturdier options, you may opt for larger shrubs. Such as Cherry, Ligustrum, Laurel, or Wax Myrtle.
Maybe you’re looking to take your front yard to the next level without worrying every minute over the specifics. You need to choose low-maintenance plants. You can either plant Barberry or Smoke Tree. Peony or Hawthorn is also good for easy landscaping.
Apart from choosing the right plant, you need to maintain your grass by frequently mowing it throughout the growing season. Additionally, you can automate your water system and add a layer of mulch to suppress weed growth.
How to care for shrubs
- Choose the suitable shrub.
Before you begin worrying about taking care of your shrubs, conclude which shrub is ideal given your climatic conditions. If a shrub is ill-suited for your particular region, taking care would be critical and a hassle.
- Plant it at the right time.
After the summer heat has settled, you can plant the shrubs to ensure a healthy root system. The ideal time is during autumn because it provides plenty of time for the shrubs to firmly ground themselves before spring arrives.
- Set the watering process.
You’re required to water your shrub once every week during the growing process. Set the timer to ten minutes if you’ve got an automated sprinkler system installed. But if you’re manually watering the plants, fill the lawn with enough water that the soil absorbs it thoroughly.
- Feed the shrubs.
Generally, adding fertilizers to growing shrubs is considered terrible. Instead, you can mix compost with your soil to provide all the required nutrients. But if you feel adding fertilizer is essential for your shrubs’ growth, you may add a reasonable amount.
- Trim frequently.
Cutting away the overgrown or dead bits is essential for growing shrubs. The overgrowth ruins the overall aesthetic of your lawn and slows down the growing process.
- Test the soil for pests.
Keep looking for any suspicious pests that may have welcomed themselves into your garden. Consult a professional to rid your lawn of pests at the earliest.
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