Compact or dwarf shrubs are the perfect solution for small yards. The average house is getting bigger and yards are getting smaller. Homeowners have less free time nor interest in working in their yards. This seems to be a trend for builders and homeowners that’s here to stay. However, landscaping small yards doesn’t have to be challenging if you know what you’re doing.
Well intentioned new homeowners browse in the nursery for some plants that will quickly fill in their landscaping and before you know it, their yards that become overrun by full-size shrubs that need major pruning. But thankfully in recent years, plant breeders are developing many new varieties of compact dwarf shrubs for smaller yards that stay naturally small without a lot of upkeep.
Below we have highlighted a few beautiful compact flowering shrubs that will add texture, color, unique forms and lots of interest. But the best of all is that the meet the important criteria of being reliable, deer resistant, drought tolerant and low maintenance. However, for the record, there are no deer proof plants, only deer resistant and the shrubs mentioned are all deer resistant. If you want a good resource for deer resistant plants, Rutgers University has a fantastic website for deer resistant plants.
Advantages of Compact or Dwarf Shrubs
Compact shrubs won’t grow out of control. They rarely need to be pruned, deadheaded or maintained. They are ideal for the busy homeowner that has a smaller landscape setting and want to be free of heavy maintenance. Many have prolific flower production and minimal disease problems. A garden can have a group of three or five plants rather than one dominating specimen. Because they are smaller, they are easier to plant. For additional information on how to plant, see
8 Awesome Compact and Dwarf Shrubs for Small, Sunny Yards
All of the plants below are Proven Winners selections which have been tested worldwide. You can count on them for being easy to grow, healthy and vigorous, low maintenance and long blooming. They will all thrive in SUN.
Pearl Glam callicarpa (Beautyberry) – Beautiful dark purple foliage in the spring and fall brings white flowers that yield violet-purple berries by the hundreds. Its upright habit is great for smaller spaces. Plant in mass in mixed shrub borders, foundation plantings or just use as a specimen plant.
Ginger Wine physocarpus opulifolius (Ninebark) – A great native flowering shrub. Spring foliate is a sunny orange color and matures to sparkling burgundy. Clusters of white flowers cover the plant in late spring. With its naturally, arching habit, ninebarks are best left unpruned. Ninebark can grow to 6 feet maximum and makes a great backdrop for other plantings.
Double Play Blue Kazoo Spiraea – If you’re looking for a colorful, versatile, easy to grow shrub for you landscape, this is the shrub. It has cool blue-green foliage that emerges in a range of hues through the season and in early summer, very large white flower clusters appear. Can you ask for any more? Like other Spirea, you can count on Double Play Blue Kazoo to perform while needing minimal care. Not fussy about soil and watering and can also tolerate light shade.
Blues Festival hypericum kalmianum (St. John’s Wort) – A great colorful option for landscaping, especially edging beds and walkways. It has attractive blue-green leaves that contact with yellow flowers in July and August. Never needs deadheading and very little pruning. Best in moist, well drained soils. Attracts bees.
Spilled Wine Weigela – A wonderful smaller size Weigela that grow the perfect height for planting in foundation beds. Each spring it leafs out with intense wine-red foliage and hot magenta pink flowers appear prolifically early in the season. Once it finishes flowering, it retains its deep colors for the rest of the growing season. Butterflies and hummingbirds love the flowers. Lots of sun and average watering will keep this shrub happy.
Show Off Forsythia - This is a tiny compact dwarf plant with a splashy color in the spring. Minimal pruning but best to prune right after blooming. Old stems can be cut to the ground. Likes good, loose soil, but is very adaptable.
Azurri Blue Satin Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus) – Striking blue flowers that don’t form a bunch of seeds and spread themselves all over the garden. Will bloom all summer long and doesn’t required deadheading. It’s heat tolerant, attracts butterflies and shape up in early spring if you choose.
Pugster Buddleia (Butterfly Bush) – An amazing space-saving dwarf butterfly bush with full sized flowers. Enjoy the dense blooms from summer through frost with no deadheading. Their heavy stems ensure better winter survival. Plants come in shades of pink, purple and white. Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds love them.
Whitehouse Landscaping has been designing, installing and maintaining beautiful custom landscaping in Montgomery, Chester, and Berks counties since 2000. We offer specialized designs for your home including patios, fire features, water features, landscape design, outdoor lighting, full maintenance and organic-based fertilization.
Of course, there are other wonderful options for compact shrubs for smaller yards but these are a few tried and true plants to consider. Whitehouse Landscaping 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 or call 484-300-4290.