|I'm looking for small trees or shrubs to plant in the beds close to my house. It has a northern exposure.|
|Some of the most commonly suggested shrubs for shade include the azaleas and rhododendrons, and there are many varieties which normally stay small. Another possible selection would be yew, although pruning may be required to maintain a small size near a house. Yet another possibility would be Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica) which is a lovely shrub with fragrant blooms in summer and a gorgeous fall color, or perhaps a smaller named variety of Summersweet Clethra (Clethra alnifolia), another nice shrub which produces fragrant blooms in late summer. Finally, you might consider hostas -- these are perennials rather than shrubs, but they are available in large sizes (foliage heights range up to three feet) and thrive in shade with little or no care once established.
Best wishes with your landscape!