Q: I would like some dwarf, evergreen shrubs to plant in the front of my house. I do not have much space but I also do not want to be spending a great deal of time pruning them to keep them short. Do you have any ideas?
A: The following list of shrubs will grow to about 4 feet tall with a spread of about 3-6 feet. Try any of the following evergreen shrubs for smaller areas such as Rose Creek, Francis Mason, Prostrata, Sherwoodii which are dwarf varieties of Abelia for full sun areas. These shrubs are evergreen as long as temperatures stay above 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Pittosporum cultivar called Crème de Mint is a variegated form reaching heights of only 3 feet with about the same width. Poet’s Laurel, Danae racemosa, produces pretty orange berries in the fall for those shade to partial shady sites. Prostrata; Radicans Variegata are some examples of dwarf gardenia which will provide fabulous, fragrant flowers if you have partial sun to partial shade and acid soil. Indian Hawthorn cultivars Olivia, Eleanor Taber, Indian Princess, and Gulf Green will grow in full sun to partial sun areas. These particular Indian Hawthorn shrubs are resistant to the pesky leaf spot which plague so many other shrubs in this family. Although they are not evergreen, there are several dwarf varieties of crape myrtle which we often overlook. Consider one of the following: Chickasaw (3 ft tall), Firecracker (3-5 ft), Ozark Spring (3-5 ft), Pocomoke (3 ft.), or Victor (4 ft). Then, of course, consider some of the smaller bush or drift roses. We have plenty of choices so there is no reason to plant one of the standard tree varieties of viburnum, ligustrum, holly or pittosporum as they would prefer being 12 – 20 feet tall. Trying to keep them at 3-4 feet is brutal.