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Dwarf Shrubs for Small Landscapes

If you have a small landscape or garden and you don't want to spend time pruning them down (who does!), dwarf shrubs are the answer. Even in large landscape these tiny plants can make a big statement.

The need for small shrubs for the landscape is a trend that seems to be growing in popularity. More and more homeowners find these miniature versions a fun and necessary addition to their yards. There are a few reasons to consider dwarf plants.

Reasons to Plant Dwarf Shrubs

Fill In Empty Space

If may seem unbelievable but the best way to reduce your landscape maintenance is to plant more. Reduce empty space in your landscape by planting small shrubs, along with groundcover and perennials and you'll minimize the need for expensive and time consuming mulch AND vastly reduce the need to weed. pruningcartoon.jpg

Reduce Pruning

Small plants are less work. Most have been developed to specifically address the need for low maintenance plants.  They have been bred to stay small and keep their compact shapes, reducing the need for frequent pruning.

Smaller Landscapes

Urban and small space gardens are becoming more popular. By offering small versions of popular landscape plants, homeowners can enjoy the best of both worlds. Just because you have a small yard, doesnt mean you can't have beautiful landscaping.

They're Fun

We get it. These plants are cute and fun to grow. They're just plain fun to have in the landscape. If you enjoy finding unique plants to add to your landscape, you will love the array of small plants we have to offer.

What is a dwarf shrub?

When considering which dwarf shrub to choose for your landscaping, there are two types to look at.

Just because a variety is called dwarf doesn't mean it is small. The second bullet point refers only to smaller versions of a larger variety. Take a look at both lists and see what is best for your needs.

Let's start with the minis. All of the plants listed below qualify as dwarf, and will reliably remain under 2 feet tall at maturity.

Shrubs That Stay Under 2 Feet Tall

Tiny Tuff Stuff Hydrangea

Tiny Tuff Stuff, we love you. The Tiny Tuff Stuff reaches a mature height and width of just 18-24" and is a reblooming hydrangea that can withstand the elements. If you love hydrangeas but lack the space for most varieties, take a look at this one.

Danica Arborvitae

This arborvitae stays green all winter long, providing year round color to the landscape. At just 2ft maturity, it makes an excellent specimen plant or low border.

Lil Ditty Viburnumlildittyviburnum.jpg

We've discussed this shrub before. In fact, it had it's own blog post! Check it out to learn about this special plant for small landscapes.

Golden Nugget Barberry

This excellent plant has compact dwarf shape and vibrant yellow orange color all season. It makes an ideal choice for color contrast with green and purple leaf plants.

Yuki Cherry Blossom Deutziayuki-deutzia.jpg

This pink flowering dwarf shrub is a rare find. Planted in masses, it exhibits a wall of pink color in the spring and you'll enjoy the purple foliage every Autumn.

Plant in masses for beautiful spring color and rich purple-burgundy fall foliage - See more at: https://www.bluestoneperennials.com/DEYC.html#sthash.0m91WGSd.dpuf
Plant in masses for beautiful spring color and rich purple-burgundy fall foliage. - See more at: https://www.bluestoneperennials.com/DEYC.html#sthash.0m91WGSd.dpuf
Plant in masses for beautiful spring color and rich purple-burgundy fall foliage. - See more at: https://www.bluestoneperennials.com/DEYC.html#sthash.0m91WGSd.dpuf

Double Play Gold Spirea

This dwarf spirea has gold foliage and the yellow leaves really pop against the bright pink flowers each spring. If you are looking for a low maintenance plant, this is a great option.

All of the options above are true dwarf shrubs. Below, are an alternative. Often homeowners are looking for a small version of a plant they already love. For many popular landscape shrubs, there is a smaller version. Is it truly dwarf? Not always. Take a look below.

Smaller Versions of Large Shrubs

Mini Salsa Barberry

This extrememly hardy, dark red leaf plant is an improved Crimson Pygmy that makes a great contrast plant. Compared to other barberry, the mini salsa is much smaller at maturity, reaching just 18-24", by up to 30" wide.

Sugartina Clethra

For narrow beds and small gardens, the white blooming Sugratina is an ideal alternative to larger varieties. At maturity, it can reach about 36" tall and wide.

Red Rover Dogwoodred_rover_cornus_dogwood_autumn.jpg

The changing and unusual foliage of this dogwood make it a standout selection, along with its smaller size. Leaves start out green and then change to deep, deep purple, with contrasting white flowers. Red fall berries and red winter stems make it a year round stunner.

Fireball Burning Bush

Everyone loves burning bush, which is known for it's amazing brick red foliage.. The problem is, even the standard "Dwarf" burning bush gets really big. The Fireball is the answer. Not only is it more winter hardy than other versions, it is also smaller. While it can still top out well over, 60" tall, it is the smallest option available for burning bush in our zone.

Show Off Starlet Forsythiashowoffforsythia.jpg

Forsythia are notorious for growing rather wild. The new Show Off is smaller, more compact and covered from base to tip with bright yellow blooms every summer. Get 2-3' tall but 3-4' wide.

Bobo Hydrangea

The Bobo is a favorite of our landscape design team. Sturdy, hardy and bursting with blooms, the Bobo aims to please. White blooms throughout summer and a mature size of 3-4' tall and wide.

Little Quickfire/Little Lime Hydrangea

The Little Lime is the smaller version of the Limelight and along with the quickfire is a proven performer in the landscape. With the Quickfire, you'll enjoy pinky red blooms, versus the green-tinged white of the Little Lime. Both are small compared to Limelight and similar hydrangea. Learn more about hydrangea by accessing our handy chart.

 Tiny Wine Ninebark

Ninebark are a perennial favorite at our Garden Center. We love the deep reddish purple leaves and vibrant flowers.ninebark3.jpg If you feel the same way about this shrub but want something smaller, take a look at the Tiny Wine. This variety is the smallest on the market and reaches just 2-3' tall and wide.

Scent and Sensibility Lilac

This variety of lilac grows like a spreader, more wide than tall. What's the same? The gorgeous purple blooms and lovely class lilac scent.

Blue Muffin Viburnum

Compared to Autumn Jazz and other Viburnum dentatums, the Blue Muffin is positively tiny. At 60-80" at maturity, ot doesn't meet the characteristics of a true dwarf, but if you are looking for something a bit less cumbersome, try the Blue Muffin.

Koko Crunch Weigela

This full sun shrub stay small, just 2-3' tall and wide. What makes it different? Besides the size, it is known for extreme hardiness, having been orginally developed in Canada. Same deep purple flowers and pink blooms though!


Crimson Kisses Weigela

This weigela variety grows to about 3' tall and wide and features red blooms tinged with white on the inside, just like a kiss.


Say goodbye to the endless task of pruning every year by planting shrubs that require less work. Dwarf shrubs are a great fit for small and large gardens, and there is a small plant choice for every combination of soil and sun conditions. Questions? We're here to help! Call our garden center at 847-658-3883 or visit our Cary location for on-site assistance.

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