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.

Oriental spruce

(Picea orientalis  species, Zones 4 to 7)

While Norway spruce is a favorite of many gardeners, the oriental spruce tends to be a better alternative. The needles are glossy green and soft to the touch. For smaller gardens, look for slow-growing cultivars like Nana (usually stays under 3 feet high), or Tom Thumb, with golden foliage.

Why we love it: It’s very tolerant! While you might have to protect it a bit during winter, it will tolerate some shade, drought and wind.

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