Dwarf trees for landscaping

15 Small or Dwarf Evergreen Trees For Your Garden (With Pictures)

Dwarf evergreen trees are small, compact trees that are perfect for small gardens or growing in containers. The beauty of planting small trees is that they require little maintenance, are green all year round and don’t take up much space in your yard. Even in large gardens, planting small dwarf evergreen trees can make beautiful garden landscape features.

Dwarf Evergreen Trees For Landscaping

There are plenty of types of dwarf evergreen trees to choose from and use in the landscape. There are dwarf spruce trees, small pine evergreen trees, miniature cypress trees, dwarf ornamental fir trees, or dwarf weeping trees to pick from. By planting one or more compact dwarf evergreen trees you don’t have to worry about clearing leaves in the fall or trees that grow too tall for your garden.

In this article, you will find out about 15 beautiful ornamental dwarf evergreen trees for landscaping. First, let’s look at a few reasons to grow small evergreen trees in your garden or in containers.

Why Plant Dwarf Evergreen Trees in Your Garden?

Apart from their ornamental beauty, small compact evergreen trees require very little maintenance throughout the year.

For example, their short stature and compact nature mean they are easy to plant and don’t need extensive pruning. You also don’t have to worry about large root systems affecting your property. This makes small trees ideal for planting in small or narrow spaces.

Due to being evergreen trees, the dwarf varieties of these trees can give year-round privacy in your garden. While deciduous types of trees lose their foliage, dwarf evergreens will beautify your garden with green, silver, and even yellow colors in the middle of winter.

Also if you have a small garden and not much space to plant large trees, planting compact trees will not take too much space and will better fit your small-yard landscape design.

Small (Dwarf) Evergreen Trees for Your Garden With Pictures and Common Names

Let’s look in more detail at some popular varieties of ornamental dwarf varieties of firs, spruces, pines, cypress, and other evergreen trees.

Mugo Pine

Pinus mugo ‘Mops’ (mugo pine) is an evergreen dwarf tree and it’s suited to even the smallest garden

Mugo pine is a great tree for small spaces. The mugo pine (scientific name: Pinus mugo) is a type of conifer that is green all year. The Mugo Pine ‘Mops’ is one of the dwarf cultivars of this evergreen variety. These small evergreen cultivars are also named “dwarf mountain pines.”

Dwarf Mugo pines grow between 3 and 5 ft. (1 to 1.5 m) tall and have short compact branches. Mugo pines can also be planted to provide good ground cover and will grow in most types of soil. Mugo pine is ideal evergreen for landscaping a garden. These small evergreen trees are good for rock gardens, foundation planting, or as a small shrub.

This type of small evergreen ornamental plant grows best in USDA planting zones 3-7 and enjoys partial shade. They can also survive harsh winters very well.

Read more: Types of Pine Trees

Green Spire Euonymus

Euonymus japonicus ‘Microphyllus’ is a great small evergreen for a small yard

The Green Spire Euonymus (Euonymus japonicus) is a small evergreen tree originating in the Far East. The dwarf cultivar is from the small tree called the Japanese Spindle or Evergreen Spindle.

Unlike the other dwarf evergreen trees on this list, the Green Spire isn’t a pine tree, conifer, or spruce. The small bushy tree has rich leafy foliage that stays green all year. The tree/shrub has many cultivars that produces dark green glossy leaves and also variegated cultivars which grow in vertical columns. You can use this small tree to form privacy hedges in your garden or use it as an ornamental tree.

This evergreen leafy tree can grow between 6 and 8 ft. (1.8 and 2.4 m). However with some pruning, you can train the tree to grow to the height you desire. The small compact tree grows well in USDA zones 6-9.

Hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa) ‘Nana_Gracilis’ is a beautiful compact evergreen that makes an excellent addition to the landscape

Native to Japan, the Hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa) is a slow-growing tree and has a number of beautiful dwarf cultivars. In many countries, Hinoki cypress evergreen trees are planted for their ornamental look and rich foliage.

Some of the smallest types of Hinoki cypress trees are as short as 12″ (30 cm)! However, not all of these “mini” trees are so small. Other cultivars of the dwarf variety grow between 3 ft. and 6 ft. (1-2 m). So, you just have to choose the right type of Hinoki dwarf evergreen to achieve your landscaping goals.

This evergreen miniature cypress has soft feathery needles and dark green foliage. The small hardy trees grow well in well-drained soil where they get full to partial sun.

Some of the most popular dwarf Hinoki cypress evergreen trees include ‘Kosteri,’ ‘Nana,’ ‘’Nana Gracilis,’ and ‘Spiralis.’

The Blues Weeping Colorado Spruce

Picea pungens ‘The Blues’ is a narrow tree which makes it an excellent choice for smaller landscapes or narrow spaces

The Blues Weeping Colorado Spruce (Picea pungens ‘The Blues’) is a stunning type of “silvery” evergreen small tree for a small garden. You can also grow this small spruce tree in a container to grace any entrance.

The dwarf “Blues Weeping” evergreen spruce is very fast growing plant and will quickly reach its maximum height of 10 ft. (3 m), but you can grow it in a container to restrict its growth. This weeping evergreen tree has silver-blue foliage that drops down to give the tree a compact look.

One of the reasons why gardeners choose this type of dwarf evergreen for landscaping is that every tree grows in a unique way. The crisp blue needles on the foliage also give an oriental feel to any garden. You can, of course, train the tree to grow in a way you want.

The Blues Weeping Colorado Spruce grows well in full sun and moist soil. It’s also a hardy tree that grows in USDA zones 2-8.

Dwarf Balsam Fir

Dwarf Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea ‘Nana’) is a great small evergreen for small spaces

One of the most popular compact dwarf fir trees, the Dwarf Balsam Fir (scientific name: Abies balsamea ‘Nana’), has the classic fir tree conical shape.

The Dwarf Balsam Fir is one of the low-maintenance varieties of compact evergreens as it is slow growing. This evergreen fir produces flat needle-like leaves that stay green throughout the year. As the tree grows and reaches maturity, it develops the distinct cone-like shape of many evergreen firs.

If you have a balcony, porch, or deck area, you can also plant this compact dwarf tree in containers. Due to the fact that the leaves give off a wonderful pine aroma, you benefit from the tree’s beauty and fragrance.

The compact evergreen grows well in USDA zones 3-6 and enjoys a lot of sun and well-drained soil.

Dwarf Serbian Spruce

Dwarf Serbian Spruce is a beautiful compact evergreen

The dwarf cultivar of the Serbian Spruce (Picea omorika ‘Nana’) is an excellent evergreen tree to plant when landscaping any large or small garden.

This slow-growing compact tree only grows between 3 and 4 inches (7-10 cm) every year.

Like many large and small spruce evergreens, the dwarf Serbian spruce has leaves with green and silver needles that form dense foliage. You can expect the small tree to grow no more than 5 ft. (1.5 m) and it will spread about the same distance at its base. This evergreen dwarf variety doesn’t require any pruning to shape it.

Another type of Serbian spruce that belongs to the class of weeping evergreens is the ‘Pendula.’ This type of spruce tree can withstand temperatures as low as -40°F (-40 °C)

Dwarf Scotch Pine

Called the “Green Penguin,” this small fat Scotch pine tree (Pinus sylvestris ‘Green Penguin’) has a distinctly conical shape.

This dwarf evergreen hardy tree produces bright green needles that keep their green color all year. One of the reasons to add this type of evergreen to your landscaping is that you never need to prune it. You can expect a mature dwarf Scotch pine to reach 6 ft. (1.8 m) over a period of many years.

This is one of the hardiest evergreen compact trees as it still grows in temperatures as low as -40°F (-40 °C). This dwarf pine tree thrives in USDA zones 3-7.

Miniature Moss False Cypress

The Miniature Moss False Cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Squarrosa Minima’) is more of a dwarf shrub than a true tree. However, the silvery foliage and limited growth make it a good landscaping choice.

This miniature Cypress tree/shrub is perfect as a bedding plant or border plant. The dwarf tree grows into a round globe shape that reaches a height of about 1 ft. (30 cm). You can plant this miniature tree alongside perennials to give some color to gardens in the wintertime.

The little cypress also grows well in containers and is an excellent choice if you are creating an urban garden.

You should plant the miniature evergreen shrub in soil that doesn’t get too dry. This dwarf cypress variety grows well in USDA zones down to zone 4.

Dwarf Japanese Black Pine

Dwarf Japanese Black Pine is suited to even the smallest garden and makes an excellent choice for the landscape

The Dwarf Japanese Black Pine (Pinus thunbergii ‘Kotobuki’) is a delightful miniature tree for any small garden due to its elegant look.

The miniature cultivar of the Black Pine grows to about 4 ft. (1.2 m) tall after about 10 years. This compact tree has small branches that grow vertically to give the tree a dwarf, narrow pyramid look. You can also prune the tree to turn it into a stunning ornamental tree to give your garden an oriental look.

This Japanese Black Pine dwarf variety grows well in full sun and can withstand harsh winters.

Dwarf Pencil Point Juniper

Dwarf Pencil Point Juniper is a narrow tree that doesn’t take up much room in the garden. It is a great tree for narrow spaces in your garden

The Dwarf Pencil Point Juniper (Juniperus communis ‘Compressa’) is a type of narrow evergreen tree that grows to less than the height of an average person.

Planting the Dwarf Pencil Point Juniper is a good choice for your yard, garden, or container if you need a tall, yet compact tree. The mature tree is only about 1 ft. (30 cm) wide and grows no more than 5 ft. (1.5 m). Many gardeners love this miniature accent tree as it grows well in most types of soil. In addition, it’s a very hardy tree that withstands temperatures as low as -50°F (-45°C).

For landscaping a garden, plant the dwarf Pencil Point juniper where you need some height. This type of dwarf compact tree helps to accent small spaces and provides attractive greenery all year round.

Upright Japanese Plum Yew

Upright Japanese Plum Yew is a beautiful compact evergreen for a small yard

Another compact evergreen tree variety is the Upright Japanese Plum Yew (Cephalotaxus harringtonia ‘Fastigiata’). This small bushy coniferous tree has delightful vertical branches with needles.

This dwarf yew tree variety grows into a V-shape with thick dense green foliage. Not all varieties of the small Japanese plum yew flower. However, they are a good dwarf plant that provides privacy and protection from wind all year round.

You can plant this compact evergreen in well-drained soil where it gets some full sun and also shade.

The female varieties of this Japanese yew produce small plum-like fruits. You can use this dwarf variety to accent an area of your backyard or plant them together for protection.

Norway Spruce

Norway Spruce is a great choice for smaller landscapes

The ‘Pumila’ variety of Norway Spruce (Picea abies ‘Pumila’) is a dwarf shrub-like tree that is good for ground cover when landscaping your garden.

This small evergreen tree looks like a bushy cushion when fully grown. It grows to a maximum of 4 ft. (1.2 m) tall and spreads the same distance wide. This Norway spruce variety has attractive green needles and is a great choice for rock gardens or foundation plantings.

You can plant this small evergreen tree in most types of soil and it thrives in cooler climates. Pick an area of your garden where it can enjoy full sun.

Dwarf Alberta Spruce is one of the finest plants for a small yard

The Dwarf Alberta Spruce (Picea glauca albertiana ‘Conica’) is another type of compact conifer evergreen tree to give your garden color throughout the whole year.

If you are looking for an ornamental small evergreen, this dwarf spruce variety is a great choice. The thick green dense foliage on the tree grows in an A-shape and will grace any garden. Although the dwarf Alberta spruce will eventually grow to 12 ft. (3.6 m) high, it will take about 30 years to reach this height.

This Alberta spruce dwarf variety can also be pruned into fancy shapes or be planted in a container as an accent feature.

Chalet Swiss Stone Pine

Pinus cembra ‘Pygmaea’ cultivar

The Chalet Swiss Stone Pine (Pinus cembra ‘Chalet’) is a decorative slow-growing evergreen type of dwarf tree.

One of the features about this small pine tree for landscaping is its long green pine needles. The Swiss pine dwarf varieties have a columnar shape with dense pine needle leaves. You can use the Chalet Swiss Stone pine as an accent tree to beautify your garden.

In fact, some landscapers describe Swiss Stone Pine trees as some of the most beautiful dwarf pine trees on the market.

This tree grows well in loamy, well-drained soil and enjoys full sun. As with most pine cultivars, this dwarf Swiss pine variety withstands cold winters.

Other dwarf types of Swiss Stone pines include ‘Nana,’ ‘Pygmaea,’ and the ‘Tip Top’ miniature pine evergreen tree.

Green Arrow Weeping Alaska Cedar

The Green Arrow is a narrow evergreen dwarf tree which makes it ideal to even the smallest garden.

The Green Arrow Weeping Alaska cedar (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Green Arrow’) is a type of dwarf weeping evergreen tree.

Although the Green Arrow weeping cedar grows up to 20 ft. (6 m), it can still be considered a dwarf variety. The tree only measures 1 ft. (30 cm) wide at its base, therefore, it can grace even the smallest of gardens. This is one of the best types of “dwarf” evergreens if you want to provide vertical accents to your landscaping features.

One stunning feature of the Green Arrow cedar is its drooping or weeping branches. The strong vertical tree with its weeping dark green foliage gives the appearance of an arrow shooting up from the ground.

This dwarf evergreen tree grows well in USDA hardiness zones 4-8 with full sun and well-drained soil.

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Dwarf and Miniature Conifers for the Smaller Garden

We all want to continue to plant new favorites in our gardens, but for many the real estate is running out. We must then stop planting, or strategically pick plants that will stay small and not out grow their space, crowding out other favorites. Below is a good example of a miniature cedar that would be choked out if we didn’t prune back the spreading Juniper horizontalis ‘Green Carpet’. Perhaps moving the little cedar would be a good choice, but I kinda like this little ‘blue button’ in a sea of green.

According to the American Conifer Society, a dwarf conifer will grow between 1 inch to 6 inches per year while a miniature will grow less than 1 inch per year. In the garden below the Picea glauca ‘Conica’ trees are about 5 ft. tall, so if we were talking about a 10 year old garden here then these trees have grown 6 inches per year, and would be labeled a dwarf. The little conifer in the front, Picea glauca ‘Alberta Globe’ is about 12 inches per year tall, so will have grown less than 1 inch per year, and is considered a miniature.

Another example shows that this Pinus t. Banshoho has grown 6 inches per year, resulting in a shrub 5 feet tall in 10 years, so it is a Dwarf Conifer.

Many dwarf conifers are used as ‘bones’ of the landscape. They are anchors that ‘hold’ the garden together, plants that are strong in character and do not change much over time. Perennials or annuals can be used to fill in as these dwarf conifers get up to size. Then, as the conifers attain their mature size, some of the filler plants can be removed. The garden below is a good example of this type of planting strategy. Notice the colors of flowers between the dwarf conifers.

Another example, which is mostly dwarf and miniature conifers, also uses flowering perennials to add color during the spring and summer. The garden is that of the late Ed Resek, Long Island, NY.

After collecting and planting dwarf and miniature conifers for many years, here is my list of some of my favorite Dwarf Conifers. I will pick one from each of the genera starting with Abies, the true firs.

Now here are a few miniature conifers that are exceptional. The first is Pinus leucodermis ‘Schmidtii’. Look how good it contrasts to Thymus ‘Minus’.

Cedar Trees are easy to grow

Cedar trees are majestic trees that will create an immediate impact in any garden. Looking at these amazing evergreen trees over the last few weeks they seem to have flourished, even more than usual, following last year’s severe winter. They form part of the pinaceae or pine family and enjoy extremes of temperature and grow naturally in mountainous regions. Cedars are native to the Himalayas so are very frost hardy and wind resistant trees.

Cedar Tree underplanted with colourful shrubs

These trees can be used as an ornamental feature in the centre of the lawn or garden, as a hedge to form a windbreak or as an evergreen tree to create screening in a large border. If left unpruned they will reach heights over 10m.

Cedar trees have a long life and some are known to have lived as long as 800 years. Found in older cedar trees the aromatic cedar oil is created following natural evaporation. Cedar produces excellent wood used by Native Americans for building houses, totem poles, coffins and canoes. Cedar trees attractive wildlife including birds to nest in their wide spreading branches.

Cedrus Atlantica Glauca aka Blue Atlas Cedar Tree This large blue cedar is native to the Atlas Mountains in North Africa. The needles of the tree are a vibrant bluey grey. The Tree is very easy to maintain and it is very frost hardy.

Cedrus Atlantica Pendula aka Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar This Cedar is a weeping variety and has similar bluey/green needles to the Atlas Cedar but its branches grow elegantly downwards.

Cedrus Atlantica Glauca | Cedrus Atlantica Pendula | Cedrus Deodara Aurea

Cedrus Libani or Cedar of Lebanon Tree Originating from Syria this Cedar is dark green and conical in shape with sharply pointed needles. It has become a tree well-known in traditional British landscapes for its sweeping outward spreading branches.

Cedar Lebanon Tree

Cedrus Deodara Aurea This Cedar is known as the Golden Deodar or Cedrus Deodara Aurea. Its needles are bright golden yellow when they first appear in early summer and change to green/yellow. Another conical shaped Cedar but with very vibrant yellow foliage. Cedars are trees which have been used in the UK for hundreds of years and have become a main feature in many traditional British Landscapes, one of the choice trees used by Capability Brown in his landscape designs.

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