Small is the new big these days. As people move into smaller or tightly spaced urban homes with smaller yards or postage stamp patios, they need plants that work on a smaller scale. But landscapes, and garden plants, don’t have to be big in size to have a big visual impact.
Plants that work the space
Shrubs and trees categorized as “dwarf” can range in size from one-foot to ten-feet tall, depending on the variety. Dwarf specimens can give you the same impact as a standard sized variety, but scaled down to better fit your space. Dwarf versions of large shrubs and trees can even become excellent container specimens for your entryway or patio. Dwarf shrubs are better suited to planting around foundations, especially near or under windows so they don’t obstruct your views or outgrow the space.
One of our favorite small, yet striking, dwarf shrubs is Dwarf Myrtle, Myrtus communis ‘Compacta’. This versatile shrub grows to just three-feet tall, with dark glossy evergreen foliage. Plants produce multitudes of tiny white flowers with fragrant foliage. You can let them grow to their natural shape, or trim them into topiary forms. Dwarf myrtle is excellent for planting under windows as a small foundation shrub, or a backdrop for even smaller miniature shrubs and perennials. This dwarf shrub gives you the look of a traditional larger foundation shrub, but it never outgrows your space.
Having a small yard doesn’t mean you can’t include one or two big beauties. If you treat large plant specimens as sculptural focal points, and use them sparingly, you can still feature them in a small urban space. Green Sotol, Dasylirion acrotriche, is a great option for a single specimen plant; growing roughly five-feet wide and tall at maturity, with rigid leaves that radiate out from the center trunk. One of these plants creates a stunning focal point when surrounded by smaller dwarf plants.
Remember that scale is very important in landscape design, just as it is inside your home. Choosing the right plants, of the right size, to best fit your space will create a landscape with long-lasting big impact.
Check out the rest of TY Nursery’s December featured plants list: