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Dwarf Evergreens in Your Garden: Alternatives to Hollies or Boxwoods

Dwarf Evergreens in Your Garden: Alternatives to Hollies or Boxwoods

in Garden Design, Shrubs | 0 comments

Make your gardening a little easier—and your garden a little healthier—by choosing the right evergreen shrubs.

I am always on the lookout for evergreen shrubs that can be planted around the foundation of a house and that don’t need much pruning. Most foundation plantings are evergreen hollies and boxwoods that quickly outgrow their spaces and require lots of pruning to keep them in line.

The good news is that more and more nurseries are coming out with alternatives to traditional evergreens. They’re offering ‘dwarf’ shrubs that fit better in the tight spaces next to foundations and need less pruning.

What’s the problem with pruning? It can hurt the plant, especially if the plant doesn’t need it. When you prune, you are cutting an opening in the plant, which, like a skin wound, exposes the plant to possible infection: the more cuts, the greater the chance of disease. So please prune carefully and only when necessary. You can read more about pruning here.

When you find that beautiful dwarf shrub, first make sure it fits your site. Then choose the right plant by using the correct botanical name. If you buy a straight Nandina domestica, you’re getting an invasive plant that grows large. On the other hand, a Flirt Nandina is sterile—it has no berries and is not invasive—and stays small.

Here are my suggestions for alternative evergreen shrubs along with their basic needs. Plants listed with an asterisk are deer resistant (not deer proof).

*Japanese Plum Yew (Cephalotaxus harringtonia ‘Prostrata’)shade/partial shade:


*False Cypress – many varieties (Chamaecyparis)—Sun, moist soil :

Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Verdoni'

*Vintage Jade Distylium (Distylium ‘Vintage Jade’)sun/partial shade :

Distylium 'Vintage Jade' Photo courtesy Bailey Nurseries

Nandina (Nandina ‘Flirt’ and ‘Harbor Belle’)—shade/partial sun :

Nandina 'Flirt'

Photo courtesy Southern Living Plant Collection

*Japanese Andromeda (Pieris japonica ‘Cavatine’)—shade, moist soil :

Pieris 'Cavatine' Photo courtesy Great Plant Pics

Edmee Gold Boxleaf Honeysuckle (Lonicera nitidia ‘Edmee Gold’)shade, moist soil


*Germander (Teucrium chamaedrys)—sun

*Rose Creek Abelia (Abelia ‘Rose Creek’)—sun

Shishi Gashira Camellia (Camellia sasanqua – ‘Shishi Gashira’)—shade, moist soil

*Lavender (Lavandula)sun

Arborvitae – many dwarf varieties (Thuja)—sun, moist soil

When it comes to your garden, you have lots of choices. Let us help you. Contact the landscape design experts at Art of Stone Gardening, Georgia and let’s start creating your best landscape today.

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Landscaping and masonry contractors. Art of Stone Gardening is a full service design, masonry, hardscape and landscaping company. We plan, design, and install residential gardens and landscapes in North Georgia. Our local service area: Clermont, Cleveland, Cumming, Dawsonville, Dahlonega, Gainesville,
Helen, Murrayville, Sautee Nacoochee, Oakwood, Suches GA.

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