Dwarf Shrubs For Gardens – Choosing Bushes For Small Spaces

small bush
small bush
(Image credit: Halfpoint)

When you are looking for bushes that are small, think dwarf shrubs. What are dwarf shrubs? They are usually defined as shrubs under 3 feet high (1 m.) at maturity. They work well for mass plantings, container plantings, and tub plantings. If you are a gardener who needs dwarf shrubs for gardens or backyards, you’ve come to the right place. Read on for tips on choosing bushes for small spaces.

Using Dwarf Shrubs for Gardens

Dwarf shrubs are short bushes that are used by gardeners for their aesthetic features. They are compact and serve a variety of garden purposes. In larger plantings, small shrubs for landscapes can be grouped into 5 foot (1.5 m.) centers to create a groundcover effect. Bushes that are small also work well in planters and combine well with street trees. Dwarf shrubs for gardens make great edging plants for walkways and more formal garden designs. Single small plants also make good foundation plants.

Types of Small Shrubs for Landscapes

In modern times, you can find numerous new and interesting small shrubs for landscapes or dwarf shrubs for gardens. Given their small size, they work almost anywhere in your garden. Here are a few compact evergreen shrubs to try that stay under 3 feet (1 m) tall: Boxwood (Buxus) is a very slow growing evergreen that tolerates almost any type of pruning. Leatherleaf Mahonia (Mahonia bealii) is an evergreen that thrives in the shade. It produces clusters of yellow flowers, followed by berries. Dwarf pyracantha (Pyracantha "Tiny Tim") doesn’t have the dangerous thorns that the full-size versions sport, but it does get the crimson berries. When you are choosing bushes for small spaces, don’t overlook aucuba (Aucuba japonica), another of the great shrubs for landscapes. It thrives in the shade and produces golden foliage. Dwarf yaupon (Ilex vomitoria nana) only gets to 2 feet (61 cm.) tall and wide with delicately textured evergreen foliage. Dwarf bamboo (Bambusa sasa pygara) stops growing at a foot high (31 cm.) in sun or shade. Dwarf purple-leaf barberry (Berberis) is another very small shrub at 1 foot (31 cm.) in both directions, while dwarf sasanqua (Camellia sasanqua) stays compact but flowers in winter. Dwarf junipers have finely textured silver blue foliage. Dwarf Chinese holly (Ilex cornuta "Rotunda") and dwarf holly (Ilex cornuta rotendifolia) are both compact and dense. When you are choosing bushes for small spaces, dwarf nandina (Nandina domestica) grows slowly with great fall color in either sun or shade.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.