Top 10 Dwarf Conifers for Small Spaces

Small space gardening is made easy with our list of the top 10 dwarf conifers.

It’s easy to see why conifers are a staple of most backyard landscapes. They provide reliable shelter for birds, offer nice color and year-round structure in the garden and are mostly maintenance-free. Now you can have those same virtues in a smaller package, thanks to newer downsized varieties. While often referred to as “dwarf conifers,” many of these are technically just slow growers. They will eventually get larger in 20 or 30 years, but most stay fairly compact and are classified based on their growth rate and size at 10 years. With the help of conifer expert and author Richard L. Bitner (Timber Press Pocket Guide to Conifers, 2010), we put together this Top 10 list of dwarf conifers, specifically with small space gardening in mind.

Bald cypress

(Taxodium distichum, Zones 4 to 11)

You’re likely to find this large, deciduous tree in the swamps of the eastern half of the U.S. (It’s also the state tree of Louisiana.) It needs full sun and acidic soil to thrive, growing best in moist, deep soil with good drainage. Slow-growing species include Cascade Falls, which is a weeping form. Also, Secrest is a nice flat-topped cultivar.

Why we love it: This tough conifer is tolerant of wet and poorly drained sites. Also, it has beautiful orange to pumpkin-brown fall color before the needles drop.

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