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Small shrubs for the landscape

Spring blooms on the small azalea shrub
Spring blooms on the small azalea shrub
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Use small garden shrubs in landscapes as attractive groupings, garden borders and for erosion control. There's a small shrub to fill every need, whether something growing in full sun or varying amounts of shade

There are many reasons one would choose a small shrub as part of a landscape. A shrub may be used singly as a focal point. Use a mass of small garden shrubs for a bare area in the landscape or to hide some unsightly aspect of a home or building. Small shrubs can compliment surrounding flowers and foliage. Small shrubs can be combined with larger shrubs or with small trees for a striking display.Whatever your landscape need, there is a small garden shrub to suit your purposes.


Among the most popular of small garden shrubs is the Rhododendron obtusum, commonly called the Karume Azalea. This spring-blooming specimen is hardy in zones 6-9 in the US and performs best if planted in light, filtered shade. The Karume reaches 3'-4' in height and may spread to 6' wide. Classified as a dwarf evergreen shrub, its habit is dense and spreading. In optimum conditions the Karume is covered with 1 ½" blooms from late April through the end of May.

Many cultivars of this Azalea provide a variety of bloom colors. The Karume is an attractive border or specimen plant and provides a striking show when planted in masses of the same color. Different cultivars provide different colors, as with pink 'Coral Bells' and 'Apple Blossom'. Plants azaleas high, as the roots are susceptible to rot if buried deeply. Azaleas prefer a slightly moist, richly organic and acidic soil.


Loropetalum chinensis, commonly called Chinese Fringe is available in dwarf form. Referred to as "the darling of the landscape" by professionals, this Loropetalum has deep burgundy foliage which becomes green with beautiful, pink ,strap-like blooms appearing in spring. 'Ruby" is a stunning addition to beds and borders. Reaching 4' or less, this compact garden shrub likes organic soil and does well in full sun or partial shade.

Loropetalum is hardy in zones 7-9 and does not like extremes of dry or wet soil. Mulching may help retain moisture and protect roots if temperatures fall. This small garden shrub needs fertile, well-drained soil and good sun for best color of foliage and flowers.

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