If you're looking to create a beautiful outdoor space, small evergreen shrubs can be an ideal choice for providing year-round color and texture. Besides, most of these evergreen shrubs can thrive in full sun while others prefer shade.
So, if you want carefully chosen plants for your borders, and pots, or to brighten the front of your house then you'll love today's post.
These plants will add beauty to your landscape design and are also low maintenance and require minimal pruning.
13 of the best small evergreen shrubs
Tater Tot Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis 'Tater Tot')
The Tator Tot arborvitae is one of those small evergreen shrubs that love to grow in full sun. But can tolerate a bit of shade too. It grows round and neat (without pruning) making it an ideal choice for small yards or gardens.
Arborvitae has lush green foliage with a unique texture that adds a touch of formality to any garden.
Given the right growing conditions, this plant can grow to 1 - 2 feet tall and thrives best in zones 3a through 8b. Moreover, this shrub is relatively cold-hardy and can survive temperatures as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit.
Adam's Needle (Yucca filamentosa)
Adam's Needle is an evergreen shrub with sword-like leaves and a decorative trunk. It can be used as an accent plant, foundation plant, mass planting, or container plant. It grows best in full sun and requires well-drained soils.
The foliage of Adam’s needle can reach up to 3 feet in height and is relatively drought tolerant. This makes it an ideal choice for xeriscaping or succulent gardens.
Emerald n Gold (Euonymous fortunei 'Emerald n Gold')
Euonymous fortunei 'Emerald n Gold' is a variegated evergreen shrub that can reach up to 8 feet tall with bright golden foliage and green margins.
It grows well in zones 6a-9b but requires full sun to partial shade. This plant is also easy to care for as it's drought-tolerant and doesn't require pruning.
Besides offering privacy on your patio, the golden hues of the foliage will make everything look more alive and vibrant.
Just keep in mind that this variety doesn't tolerate cold temperatures below 10F (-12C). The Emerald n Gold shrub is also resistant to deer, making it a great choice for gardens in areas with high deer populations.
Other suitable cultivar alternatives include; Emerald Gaiety, Wintercreeper, and Moonshadow.
Little Heath (Pieris japonica 'Little Heath')
Also known as Pieris japonica, Little Heath is a compact small evergreen shrub that grows up to 60cm. The leaves have striking white margins with sparsely distributed white flowers originating from pink buds.
This plant grows well in acidic, moderately fertile, humus-rich soil but may need some protection in winter when young.
Dwarf Mountain Pine (Pinus mugo)
This small evergreen shrub is a slow-growing variety of mountain pine. It can take up to 10 years to reach its mature dwarf size. This shrub is perfect for those who want to add some height and interest to their garden without taking up too much space.
The foliage of Dwarf Mountain Pine stays a beautiful dark green all year round, with even more vibrant colors in winter. It also has a deep root system so it's best to plant this shrub where its roots won't be disturbed.
Besides, it's drought-tolerant and can handle temperatures as low as -30F (-34C). With proper care, Dwarf Mountain Pine can reach up to 4 feet tall with a spread of 8'-10' within 7 years.
Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)
Mountain Laurel is an evergreen shrub native to the eastern United States, growing in zones 4-9. It has glossy, green, and broad leaves that produce beautiful cup-shaped white or pink flowers in late spring to early summer.
The plant is an attractive plant for any garden as it adds texture and color with its lovely foliage. It's also drought-tolerant and deer resistant.
You should note that Mountain Laurel prefers partial shade and acidic soil with a pH range of 4.5 - 6.0. As long as you provide these conditions, you'll have a thriving beauty of a plant.
False Cypress 'Golden Mop' (Chamaecyparis pisifera)
The False Cypress 'Golden Mop' is a slow-growing evergreen shrub that offers many benefits. It can be used as a foundation plant or in containers to add height and texture. Its golden foliage brightens up any garden and offers a unique look to any landscape.
The tree grows best in full sun but can tolerate partial shade. It also prefers well-drained, fertile soil and is drought-tolerant once established. Additionally, this evergreen shrub is cold-hardy and can survive temperatures as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit.
Winter Heath (Erica carnea 'December Red')
If you're looking for an attractive year-round shrub, then Winter Heath it is. With linear, needle-like leaves throughout the year and a break of red flowers in late winter into early spring, this is a small shrub, like no other.
It requires moist, well-drained soil with high organic content and low fertility, full sun to part shade. It is intolerant of hot, dry conditions or heavy pruning (into the wood).
If you must prune it, do so after flowering in the spring to avoid leafless stems, by trimming to the base of the flowering spike.
Also after flowering, cut the leafy stems by half which will trigger branching out to keep the plant tight and dense.
Other popular cultivars for you to consider include 'King George' and 'Springwood White'.
Nandina Fire Power (Nandina domestica 'Fire Power')
Nandina domestica 'Fire Power' typically grows to only 2' tall and as wide. It produces very few flowers or fruit and is basically grown for its attractive foliage.
Where evergreen, the leaves usually retain excellent red color throughout winter - hence the name Firepower.
The plant makes an excellent accent or border plant in the landscape and can also be used as a low informal hedge.
Dwarf English Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens 'Suffruticosa')
This compact, evergreen shrub is a slow grower, reaching around 2-3' tall and wide.
The foliage of small, glossy oval leaves has an attractive yellowish tint in winter. It responds well to trimming and can be kept in a very neat and tidy shape.
All the same, it stays small, round, and neat with or without pruning.
It will grow in full sun to part shade, in moist, well-drained soil with a slightly acidic pH.
Dwarf English Boxwood makes an excellent low hedge or border plant for formal landscape designs as well as informal gardens.
Dwarf conifers are some of the most exotic small evergreen shrubs you can plant in your garden.
The term dwarf is a loose term and covers woody plants from creeping juniper, only a few inches high, to dwarf spruce and pine which could be up to 15' or more tall.
These evergreen shrubs range in size from 2’-3’ tall, depending on the species and cultivar.
Some popular varieties include the 'Blue Star' Juniper (Juniperus squamata), which grows about 2 feet tall with a spread of 4' and has bright silver-blue needles; 'Nana' Dwarf White Pine (Pinus strobus), which reaches up to 3 feet tall with equal width and features thick, soft needles in a silver-green color; and the dwarf Alberta spruce (Picea glauca 'Conica'), which grows slow, compact and has bright green foliage.
All of these small conifers can add fantastic accents to a small yard garden or a large-scale rock garden.
Blue Star Juniper (Juniperus squamata)
'Blue Star' Singleseed Juniper is a cultivar that is a dwarf conifer, an evergreen, and slow-growing shrub that may reach from 1 to 3 feet tall and 1 to 4 feet wide.
The shrub forms a compact, dense mound. The leaves are blue-gray, awl-shaped needles with a white band that overlap and are densely arranged in whorls of three. The fruits are bluish-berry-like seed cones.
The 'Blue Star' Singleseed Juniper cultivar is a great selection as a foundation plant, for rock gardens, specimens, or planted in mass as a ground cover.
Leucothoe (Leucothoe spp.)
There are two species to choose from. You can go for a dynamic blaze of color (Leucothoe axillaris 'Little Flames') or the more conservative variegated one (Leucothoe fontanesiana 'Whitewater').
Whichever cultivar you choose, these evergreen shrubs are very adaptable and can tolerate both sun and shade.
Besides, Leucothoe has a variety of attractive characteristics such as glossy foliage, small white flowers in the spring, and lovely red stems in winter.
This shrub is an ideal foundation or border plant, and it also looks wonderful when planted in mass. If you want to keep it compact, prune it after flowering. Otherwise, no pruning is needed.
Small evergreen shrubs are a great way to add texture, color, and interest to your garden or landscape. With so many different cultivars available on the market today, you're sure to find one that fits your particular needs and design style.
From dwarf conifers like Juniperus squamata 'Blue Star' and Pinus strobus 'Nana Dwarf White Pine', to Leucothoe axillaris 'Little Flames' for an eye-catching splash of color - there is something for everyone!
Be sure to consider sun exposure when selecting small evergreen shrubs as some may require more shade than others, but whatever you choose will make an attractive addition to any outdoor space.