9 Small Evergreen Shrubs to Grow for Year-Round Beauty

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Small evergreen shrubs and trees will make your yard look great in every season. Dwarf evergreens also provide benefits for birds and wildlife.

Good things come in small packages, and these small evergreen shrubs and trees are no exception. Whether your space is itty-bitty or super spacious, these terrific dwarf evergreens add year-round interest and come in countless sizes, shapes, and foliage colors. Find one that’s a perfect fit for your backyard.

Expert Tip: Before purchasing any small plant, be sure its mature size is what you need and want. Too often gardeners are frustrated that their “dwarf” plant covered a front window or overshadowed their house. According to the American Conifer Society, dwarf evergreen varieties can grow 1 to 6 inches per year, but make sure to check the tags on your specific variety for growth and mature size.

dwarf blue spruce small evergreen shrubImage: Monrovia

Dwarf globe blue spruce

Picea pungens ‘Glauca Globosa’, Zones 2 to 7

Plant this small low-maintenance evergreen in full sun. Water it regularly while it’s young, but once it’s established, give it a good soak during dry periods. It adapts to most soils and tolerates air pollution and even some shade. Watch as new growth emerges a vibrant blue-green in spring. Check out more dwarf conifers for small spaces.

Size: 3 to 5 feet tall and 4 to 6 feet wide

Why we love it: Stiff needles offer birds excellent protection from predators.

Where to buy it: Monrovia

small evergreen shrubsImage: Monrovia

Fire Chief globe arborvitae

Thuja occidentalis ‘Congabe’, Zones 5 to 8

Add a touch of red and gold to your collection of small evergreen shrubs. As seasons change, so does this dwarf evergreen: You’ll see new spring growth in bright gold, then deep red tips in fall. This perfectly shaped globe fits nicely in a rock garden, stands alone in a container or plays nice in a hedgerow. Grow it in full sun or partial shade. Also try these attractive drought-tolerant shrubs for your garden.

Size: 3 to 5 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide

Why we love it: No pruning is needed to keep up the round form.

Where to buy it: Monrovia

cedar small evergreen shrubMonrovia

Weeping blue atlas cedar

Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca Pendula’, Zones 6 to 9

Sculpt this pliable beauty into a curtain, fountain or carpet of blue-green foliage that fits your space and landscape design. Train the main stem and prune the tree to create a one-of-a-kind focal point. Grow this gem in full sun or partial shade with moist, well-draining soil in a spot with protection from strong winds. Follow these tips to prepare before planting a tree.

Size: Variable

Why we love it: The swooping branches covered in bluish-green needles look like water cascading over stones.

Where to buy it: Monrovia

Image: Courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder

Bright Gold yew

Taxus cuspidata ‘Bright Gold’, Zones 4 to 7

Add a splash of sunshine to your spring landscape with the golden needles of Bright Gold. Grow it in full sun with a little afternoon shade for the best color. Needles eventually fade to bright green as the season progresses. It tolerates urban conditions but needs moist, well-draining soil and protection from cold winter winds. 

Size: 3 feet tall and wide

Why we love it: Relish its naturally small scale, or prune it to fit your space. 

Where to buy it: The Home Depot

Image: Courtesy of Iseli Nursery

Blue Shag pine

Pinus strobus ‘Blue Shag’, Zones 3 to 8

This pine’s short, soft needles are dusted with a tinge of blue. You’ll need to practice patience, though, because birds won’t find cones until the plants start to mature. This gem thrives in average, well-draining soil and full sun but tolerates partial shade. Grow this small evergreen shrub in acidic soils and pollution-free areas for best results.

Size: 2 to 4 feet tall and 2 to 5 feet wide

Why we love it: Its texture, color and density make it a perfect addition to rock gardens.

Where to buy it: Iseli Nursery

Image: Courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.

Blueberry Delight juniper

Juniperus communis ‘Blueberry Delight’, Zones 3 to 7

The silver, striped needles on this North American native appear powdery blue, making it a standout in the garden. In fall, the needles transform into a coppery bronze color. It’s tolerant of full sun, cold winters and, once established, drought. Check out our picks for the best fall shrubs.

Size: 1 to 2 feet tall and 4 to 5 feet wide

Why we love it: Bird activity picks up during cooler months as feathered friends flock to feast on the abundant blueberry-like fleshy cones.

Where to buy it: Bailey Nurseries Inc., Nature Hills


Dwarf Golden arborvitae

Thuja orientalis ‘Aurea Nana’, Zones 6 to 9

The name may have changed (it’s sometimes known as Platycladus orientalis ‘Aurea Nana’), but its mass appeal remains. The pointed globe of golden-yellow foliage turns bronzy in winter. Grow this arborvitae in full sun or light shade, and shelter it from strong winds to prevent browning. Provide a bit of TLC during hot, dry weather with deep and regular watering. Psst—these are the top 10 quick-growing shrubs.

Size: 2 to 6 feet tall and 2 to 5 feet wide

Why we love it: Birds appreciate the dense cover, and the brightly colored form will blow you away.

Where to buy it: Monrovia


Dwarf scotch pine

Pinus sylvestris ‘Glauca Nana’, Zones 3 to 7

Strong winds are no match for this rugged beauty. It adapts to a variety of soils and tolerates urban conditions, but it does struggle a bit in the summer heat of the South. Enjoy the peeling orange bark that contrasts nicely with the bluish-green needles. Check out more plants you can’t kill.

Size: 5 to 8 feet tall and wide

Why we love it: This chameleon-like tree works well in Japanese and woodland gardens, either as a lone specimen or near a dry streambed or boulder.

Where to buy it: Monrovia

Image: Courtesy of Iseli Nursery

Moon Frost hemlock

Tsuga canadensis ‘Moon Frost’, Zones 4 to 7

Hemlocks are made for shade, and Moon Frost is no exception. Needles emerge white in spring for a frosty glow; in winter, look for a blush of pink. Grow this small evergreen shrub in a cool location with partial to full shade and moist soil. Live in a cold climate? Here’s even more pretty plants for winter.

Size: 2 to 4 feet tall and 2 to 4 feet wide

Why we love it: Hemlock’s graceful look is lovely to incorporate throughout the landscape.

Where to buy it: Iseli Nursery

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Melinda Myers
Melinda Myers is a nature and gardening writer whose specialty is attracting wildlife, especially birds, to the garden. She contributes regularly to the magazine Birds & Blooms, and lectures widely on creating gardens that please both human and avian visitors.