The Q&A Archives: small shrubs

Question: I have a 10'x12' space in which to plant some shurubs, perennials and annuals. My problem is all of the shrubs that I would like are far too large for the space. I am interested in evergreen and decideous shrubs to add year round interest. I purchased a contoneaster which was supposed to be 2.5'x2.5' and with lots of trimming it is 6' wide and I have to remove it, which I am unhappy about. THe site gets full sun. Any suggestions?

Answer: There are some smaller shrubs you could consider. Boxwood, dwarf nandina, or smaller growing shrub roses such as Bonica would all be good choices. If you prefer flowering shrubs you might look at caryopteris, the summer blooming spireas, and baptisia which is a perennial that can seem nearly shrub-like. Keep in mind that your space is truly small for trying to cram in so much variety, so be very thoughtful in your selections. Sketch out your area and pencil in the shrubs and perennials you are considering, allowing space for them to mature. Check several references to verify mature size (cotoneasters are spreading plants so I am not sure where you would have heard that small size) and be sure to use the full botanical name -- including the variety, as that can make a significant difference. To add interest in winter, consider using an attractive tuteur or other support for a clematis vine, too. These take up relatively small footprint and can be designed to be just the right size for your garden. Enjoy!

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