Compact plants start small and stay small for their entire growing life. Compact evergreen shrubs take up a fraction of space as similar full-size plants such as yews and arborvitaes and are ideal for homeowners who have less room for planting. Smaller in size also means minimal or no pruning and maintenance, which is an attractive feature for busy families.
“Evergreen” means the plant retains foliage throughout the year, even in the dead of winter.
Compact evergreen plants look great planted at a front-entrance, rock garden, scattered in a perennial garden or a tiny backyard setting. Now there are plenty of compact deciduous flowering shrubs that you can combine with compact evergreen shrubs, but the beauty of evergreen shrubs is that they stay green all winter and give the landscape some winter interest.
Here we’ve highlighted a few nice compact evergreen shrubs that provide all the benefits of larger specimens, but in a much more manageable package. Does your property have any space for a few?
Anna’s Magic Ball Arborvitae. This native, dwarf arborvitae is a really cute little sphere of yellow foliage. It needs no pruning and its yellow foliage adds year-round color to the landscape. It’s one of the few arborvitae that likes part sun to sun but is one of the few arborvitae that is shade tolerant. It grows 10 to 15” tall and spreads 10 to 15” wide. It’s basically a no maintenance plant and incredibly winter hardy. That’s a win-win!
Celtic Pride Siberian Cypress. This is a very winter hardy evergreen that has pretty fern-like, delicate foliage, and doesn’t get tip die back that other evergreens like this get. It can tolerate some shade and dry conditions and it is deer resistant. 1 to 3 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet wide and takes on a higher groundcover appearance looking like lush green carpeting. In winter, it takes on a russet-purple tone but returns to green in the spring. It likes partial sun to sun although it can tolerate some shade. It prefers well drained, but moist soil. Pruning is seldom needed, although it is ok to trim to shape in spring.
Gem Box Inkbery Holly (Llex glabra ‘compacta’). This is a dwarf broadleaf evergreen that looks more like a boxwood than an inkberry. It has a mounded habit with a lush foliage of small, dainty, dark green leaves and red tips during the spring flush. It’s a great alternative to a boxwood, that likes sun to part sun but can tolerate a little shade. Garden height is 24-36” high and spreads 24-36” wide.
Dwarf Pencil Point Juniper (Juniperus communis ‘compressa’). This is a small, very narrow evergreen shrub that grows to less than 5 feet tall, with a width of less than a foot. It has blue-green needles that shimmer in sunny garden areas. Its tapered form makes a great vertical accent plant for smaller gardens where space is limited. It’s a full sun lover and tolerates a wide range of soils. This one is also drought-tolerant once established. It’s a native shrub and very winter hardy. See American Conifer Society for photo and additional information.
Dwarf Japanese Black Pine (Pinus thunbergii ‘Kotobuki’). This dark needled evergreen grows steadily into an upright, irregular column, reaching 4 feet tall in about 10 years. It has a very ‘Asian’ look with dark needles and contrasts beautifully with the bright silver-white of the new shoots each spring. In time, the branches develop into irregular side cluster which gives it an ‘Asian’ look. It’s resistant to heat, drought, salt, and deer, which bodes well for both Ocean and Monmouth counties.
Compact Maximum Rhododendron (Rhododendron ‘Maximum Compacts’). This plant is a mini version of a traditional rhododendron and is a real show stopper with broad leaves producing large clusters of pinkish lavender flowers in late spring. It likes full to partial sun and will reach just 3 feet tall and wide. The bumblebees love the flowers and there is no pruning necessary.
Falling in love with conifers is easy! Compact or dwarf shrubs are the perfect solution for small yards and evergreen plants have a lot to offer for year-round interest. But of course, there are a multitude of non-compact evergreens that provide a constant sign of life and color in a winter landscape.
Carefree Dreamscapes has been designing, installing and maintaining beautiful custom landscaping in Ocean and Monmouth counties, NJ for decades. We can work with you on your exact landscaping needs. Every property is different, and every situation warrants a different landscape design.
Get started by requesting a free consultation today. We’re always happy to help you!