If you’re looking for something small to fill in your front yard landscaping that gives you visual interest all year-round, dwarf evergreen trees are a great option to consider. They have virtually no maintenance needs except moderate watering, and this allows them to look nice without adding a lot of stress on you to constantly maintain them. Finding all of these desirable traits in one tree seems impossible, but dwarf evergreen trees fit the bill very well for small-space gardeners. They’re also fantastic for busy people who don’t want to dedicate hours pruning and shaping.
These small, compact trees also work wonderfully for growing in containers. They work well in both small and large gardens, and there are dozens of dwarf evergreen trees to choose from when you start shopping. We’ve picked out several great options that we’ll highlight for you below. You can mix and match these dwarf evergreen trees to beef up your landscape this year.
1. Hinoki Cypress (Chamaecyparis Obtusa)
This is a very slow-growing dwarf evergreen tree that has a very compact stature. You’ll get a slightly pyramidal form with it that is very eye-catching, and it has fan-shaped foliage. The foliage has a very dark green and lush coloring to it, and you’ll get almost a feathery texture with it that allows it to work with a variety of flowers and plants. As a bonus, it is fine planted in areas where temperatures drop to -30°F.
When you get these dwarf evergreen trees in the correct planting zones, it can get between 10 and 12-feet tall. For spread, it is slightly thinner at 3 to 4-feet wide. It does take 20 years to reach this point. It needs well-drained soils and full, direct sunlight to grow. There is a smaller version of this tree that only gets up to five feet tall called Nana Gracilis.
IMG_2728 hinoki forest bonsai S_G Gardens by gary riley / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
2. Tip Top Dwarf Swiss Stone Pine (Pinus Cembra ‘Tip Top’)
This dwarf evergreen tree is excellent for container gardens or tight spaces throughout your yard, and it’s very hardy. It can easily survive temperatures as low as -40°F without any damage. It takes around 10-years to fully mature if you get it in the correct conditions, but it’ll easily top out at six-feet tall and three-feet wide. The tree has a very shaggy appearance to it due to the longer needles that have a softer texture rather than a prickly or stiff one.
The needles on this dwarf evergreen tree have white undersides with a light green coloring to them. The growth habit is conical and narrow, so it doesn’t take up a lot of horizontal space. You’ll have to plant several together if you want to fill in a larger space. You don’t have to prune this tree to get it to keep the conical shape or shorter stature either.
Pinus cembra ‘Pygmaea’ by F.D. Richards / CC BY-SA 2.0
3. Blues Weeping Colorado Spruce (Picea Pungens ‘The Blues’)
If you’re looking for a show-stopper to add to your landscape to attract attention and add visual interest, this dwarf evergreen tree is it. This is a slightly faster-growing tree that tops out at around 10-feet high and between 5 and 10-feet wide. So, you can easily fill in a decent amount of space with a few trees with this variety. Additionally, this tree is hardy down to an impressive -50°F, and this makes it an excellent choice for people who live in more northern climates.
You’ll get pretty blue-green needles with this specimen. The needles get packed on the branches in very thick clusters, and the branches hang downward to give the tree the appearance of weeping. This dwarf evergreen tree does very well in well-draining soil, and it can tolerate full sun to partial shade. However, it does prefer more sunlight over shade if possible.
Picea pungens ‘The Blues’ (Stanley) 2019 photo by F.D. Richards / CC BY-SA 2.0
4. Dwarf Serbian Spruce (Picea Omorika ‘Nana’)
The dense growth habit on this dwarf evergreen tree makes it an excellent choice for foundation plantings right by the house or in smaller raised garden beds. It gives you dense green needles, but the needles come with a white stripe on the undersides that soften the tree’s overall appearance. It also adds visual interest to the tree, and it has a clumping habit with a slightly wider base and a more narrow top with a gently rounded appearance.
You’ll have to have patience if you plant this tree as it does have a slow-growing habit to it. It usually gets between three and five feet tall at the highest point with the same width, so be careful to spread them out when you plant them. It is best planted in garden zones where your winter temperatures dip down to around -30°F. You won’t have to prune this tree to get the rounded form.
Picea omorika by F.D. Richards / CC BY-SA 2.0
5. Chalet Swiss Stone Pine (Pinus Cembra ‘Chalet’)
The Chalet Swiss Stone Pine is a dwarf evergreen tree that has a beautiful natural form that you get without having to take the time to prune or shape it. It’ll grow in a columnar shape. This means that it’s slightly wider at the base before tapering off to a point at the top of the tree. The branches grow very densely packed together, and this makes it excellent for privacy. Also, the needles are slightly longer with this pick, and they give you a slightly feathery appearance.
The needles have a light blue-green coloring to them, and this also softens the tree’s overall look. It will survive temperatures that drop to -40°F. At full maturity, this dwarf evergreen tree will get up to eight feet tall and four feet wide at the widest point. It likes to be in slightly acidic soil that drains very well, and it needs full sunlight to thrive.
Pinus cembra ‘Chalet’ (Cold Hardy) 2019 photo by F.D. Richards / CC BY-SA 2.0
6. Dwarf Japanese Black Pine (Pinus Thunbergii ‘Kotobuki’)
This is a needled dwarf evergreen tree that works well in small gardens, containers, or in tight spaces where you need a shorter and more narrow specimen. So, you can easily use it for front door landscaping without worrying about it taking up too much space or taking over the direct area. It is a fully winter hardy tree that can survive temperatures as low as -20°F without a problem, and it’s also a deer-resistant plant that is excellent for people who have a large deer population.
The growth habit on this dwarf evergreen tree is just four feet tall and two feet wide at maturity, so it’s a very narrow specimen. However, the needles do grow extremely compact and dense, so it makes a small privacy shield by your home. It does feature slightly shorter and pickier needles than other picks on the list, but this doesn’t take away from the tree’s appearance.
Pinus thunbergiana `Kotobuki’ Dwarf Japanese Black Pine by F.D. Richards / CC BY-SA 2.0
7. North Star Dwarf White Spruce (Picea Glauca ‘North Star’)
If you want a dwarf evergreen tree that has a pyramidal shape and a compact stature, this could be a decent choice. It’s a very hardy choice for beginner gardeners as it’s hard to kill once you plant it, and it can survive a broad temperature fluctuation down to -50°F. It’s also very resistant to deer, so you won’t have to worry about them eating it down to the ground or disrupting the natural growth habit.
This dwarf evergreen tree tops out at four feet wide and 5 to 10-feet tall. It needs very little or no pruning to keep the natural shape and look neat, and this is great for busy gardeners. It likes at least partial sun but prefers full sunlight if possible. It can tolerate a huge range of soil conditions without damage, but it won’t do well if you put it in constantly saturated soil.
Ogalala Dwarf White Spruce by F.D. Richards / CC BY-SA 2.0
8. Little Gem Dwarf Southern Magnolia (Magnolia Grandiflora ‘Little Gem’)
This is a very attractive and lush dwarf evergreen tree that has very glossy and dark green, and it’ll produce very large and fragrant bright white flowers that stand out beautifully from the foliage. The flowers will appear in late summer through fall, and they can have a second bloom during the fall months if you live in cooler planting zones. This isn’t a very petite tree like most on the list, but it has a very narrow and tall look to it.
Under the right conditions, this dwarf evergreen tree will get up to 20 feet tall and 5 to 10 feet wide. So, it doesn’t take up as much horizontal space when you plant it. It’s not extremely cold-hardy, but it can survive temperatures down to 0°F without damage. So, you will need to live in slightly less harsh climates if you want it to do well. Put it in full sun with well-draining soil.
Magnolia Grandiflora in Sugar Land, Texas by abbamouse / CC BY-SA 2.0
9. Dwarf Pencil Point Juniper (Juniperus Communis ‘Compressa’)
You’ll get a columnar form with this dwarf evergreen tree that gives it a very unique look. It does have a very slow-growing habit, so it’ll take years for it to fully mature after you plant it and it establishes itself. It only gets up to five feet high, and the spread is only a foot at the widest point. So, it makes an excellent edging option for your yard or garden if you’re trying to create a natural fence. You will have to plant them very close together though.
This is a sun-loving dwarf evergreen tree, so you do want to put it in an area that gets full, direct sunlight for six to eight hours a day at a minimum. It has blue-green needles on it, and female plants can produce blue-tinged berries in the fall months. It’s winter hardy down to -40°F without incurring any damage.
Juniperus Communis by Tero Laakso / CC BY-SA 2.0
10. Green Penguin Dwarf Scotch Pine (Pinus Sylvestris ‘Green Penguin‘)
Anyone who wants a slightly chunkier but tidy dwarf evergreen tree should consider adding this low maintenance plant to their landscape design. It’s a very unique tree because the older growth takes on a long-needled look while any new growth looks much more feathery and soft to create a very eye-catching contrast. You’ll get a very thick, dense pyramidal form that doesn’t require any pruning or trimming to keep this shape.
The tree tops out at a maximum of six-feet tall and three-feet wide, so you do need to give it plenty of space to spread out when you plant it. It’s hardy down to -40°F. You want to plant it in an area that has well-draining soil, but it’s tolerant of a range of soil conditions as long as they’re not completely saturated all of the time. It should get plenty of sunlight, but it can also tolerate partial shade.
Harper Collection, HR-R2019 by F.D. Richards / CC BY-SA 2.0
11. Green Arrow Weeping Alaska Cedar (Chamaecyparis Nootkatensis ‘Green Arrow’)
With a tall and narrow stature, this dwarf evergreen tree is excellent for gardens or yards where space is at a premium. This variety has the most slender girth of all of the weeping Alaska cedars, and it only gets one foot wide at the biggest point. However, it can get up to 20-feet tall under the right conditions, so you can see how this could create an eye-catching addition to your garden or yard.
You’ll get a fan-like appearance with the soft foliage on this dwarf evergreen tree, and the branches hang down to give it a dramatic look. It’s hardy down to -20°F, and it can survive in many different soil conditions without a problem. You don’t have to prune or shape it, and it’s relatively fast-growing. It prefers to be in an area that gets full to partial sun.
Harper’s HR-D 2014 by F.D. Richards / CC BY-SA 2.0
12. Dwarf Balsam Fir (Abies Balsamea ‘Nana’)
This deer-resistant dwarf evergreen tree has a rounded, squat growing habit. It has very lush and dense needles on it that deer tend to avoid, and it has a slow growth rate that makes it a great choice for anyone who doesn’t have the time or tools required to regularly prune, trim, and shape their hedges. You’ll get very dark green needles that stand out, and the needles are on the shorter side.
This dwarf evergreen tree will survive temperatures that drop as low as -40°F without an issue, so it’s good for more northern gardens. It will take several years to reach the mature height, but it can get between five and six feet tall and just as wide. This makes it an excellent foundation plant along your home. It’ll sprawl out, so you do want to space them out decently when you first plant them.
Abies balsamea Nana (Dwarf Balsum Fir) 2009 by F.D. Richards / CC BY-SA 2.0
13. Blue Wonder Blue Spruce (Picea Glauca ‘Blue Wonder’)
The Blue Wonder Blue Spruce is a sweet little dwarf evergreen tree that offers a very compact form that comes covered in blue-grey foliage. The needles are slightly longer and have a nice feathery appearance to them. The small stature makes it excellent for containers, and it has a very slow growing habit so you won’t have to worry about repotting them year after year. It only gets six feet tall at full maturity and three feet wide, and it offers a conical shape.
This dwarf evergreen tree likes a broad range of soils, but the soil should drain very well after you water it to prevent the roots from sitting in soggy soil. It’s also slightly more flexible with sunlight requirements, but it does like full to partial sun. It won’t do well in mostly shade or full shade. You won’t have to trim or prune this tree to keep the dense conical shape.
Harper’s HR-C 2014 by F.D. Richards / CC BY-SA 2.0
14. Green Spire Euonymus (Euonymus Japonicus ‘Green Spire’)
You’ll get a very well behaved dwarf evergreen tree with this choice that gives you a slightly more formal appearance than other options on the list. It offers very green, glossy foliage that works well as a low hedge or as a natural privacy screen in your yard or around your pool, pergola, or hot tub enclosure. This is a slightly more narrow shrub that has a faster growing habit, so you won’t have to wait years for your privacy screen to get to the mature height.
It’ll get between six and eight feet high at full maturity, but it only spreads out between one and two feet. So, you’ll have to plant these dwarf evergreen trees very close together. If you do, you’ll get a very dense privacy screen with slightly picky needles that are difficult to get through. It’s only cold hardy down to -10°F, so it’s not suited for more northern climates.
Thuja occidentalis ‘Degroot Emerald Spire’, 2016 by F.D. Richards / CC BY-SA 2.0
15. Upright Japanese Plum Yew (Cephaloxatus Harringtoniia ‘Fastigiata’)
You’ll get a very upright and slender growth habit with this dwarf evergreen tree, and it’s a broad-needled evergreen. This is a non-flowering tree, but it does have very dense and compact needles in a deep green hue that get spaced on upright bottle-brush-like branches to give it a very unique look. It grows three feet wide by eight feet tall, so it won’t take up a huge amount of space in your yard.
Every needle on this dwarf evergreen tree is roughly two-inches long to give it a slightly soft appearance. It’s only cold-hardy to -10°F, so it won’t do well in areas that get frigid winter temperatures. It does best when you plant it in areas that get partial to full sunlight each day. In hot southern regions, the tree prefers shade in the afternoon hours during the summertime. The soil should drain well.
upright Japanese Plum Yew, Boston Flower Show, 15 March 2014 by mwms1916 / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
16. Norway Spruce (Picea Abies ‘Pumila’)
Norway Spruce is a dwarf evergreen tree that is excellent for ground cover when you want to landscape your yard or garden. When it reaches full maturity, this plant looks like a very dense and bushy cushion. It can get a maximum of four feet tall, but it can also easily spread up to four feet wide. So, you should take care to space it correctly when you plant it. Give it room to spread out without running into other plants.
It works very well as a foundation planting in your front yard, and you’ll get color through each season. It also works well in rock gardens due to the light green needles. It does best in cooler climates, but it isn’t picky about soil conditions as long as they’re not saturated. You will want to put it in an area that gets direct, full sunlight each day. It’s cold-hardy down to -40°F.
happy weeping Norway spruce by mwms1916 / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
17. Dwarf Alberta Spruce (Picea Glauca Albertiana ‘Conica’)
This is another type of dwarf evergreen tree that is a conifer, and it can give your garden a beautiful green color throughout the year. It’s an ornamental small evergreen that offers very dense and green foliage. The tree will grow in a unique A-shape with a wider base that slowly tapers off to a more square and narrow top. It is extremely slow-growing, and it won’t reach the mature height until it’s 30-years old.
This dwarf evergreen tree tops out at 12-feet high and four to five feet wide. If you have time, it’s possible to prune this tree into fancy shapes. You can also plant it in containers and use it as an accent plant. It does best in a variety of soil conditions, but it requires at least partial to full sun to thrive. If you don’t want to prune it, it’ll still get the A-shape. It’s not very cold-hardy.
Picea glauca ‘Conica’ by F.D. Richards / CC BY-SA 2.0
18. Creeping Juniper (Juniperus Horizontalis)
Juniper is a dwarf evergreen tree that is native to North America. It does very well when you plant it outside in zones four to nine. You’ll find it on mountain slopes or seashores due to the growth habit and ease of care. It’s a conifer that doubles as a ground cover, and this makes it a very popular choice for rock gardens and foundation plantings because it spreads out decently well in a short period of time without getting too tall to block out the whole area.
As a bonus, this dwarf evergreen tree does very well in a huge range of soil conditions, including poor soil and acidic soil. The soil does have to drain well for this plant to thrive though between watering sessions, and and prefers to be planted in an area that gets full, direct sunlight every day. You can get blue-green or yellow varieties.
Mother Lode Creeping Juniper 2014 by F.D. Richards / CC BY-SA 2.0
19. Arborvitae (Thuja Occidentalis)
Growing best in zones three to seven, this dwarf evergreen tree is a very popular pick with gardeners, and you can find it growing almost anywhere. However, this isn’t a deer-resistant plant, and deer seem to love to eat the foliage. If left alone, they can take it to the ground. You’ll get a very dense, pyramidal shape that offers very small cone clusters for visual interest, and the color of the feathery needles is a very bright green.
You can choose smaller varieties of this dwarf evergreen tree like Tiny Tim, Hertz Midget, or Golden Globe. If you don’t, it can easily get between 20 and 40-feet tall. It has a 10 to 15-foot spread at maturity, and this is a faster growing cultivar. It offers a lot of coverage for birds, and it tolerates a broad range of soil conditions. It requires full sun.
Thuja occidentalis by F.D. Richards / CC BY-SA 2.0
20. Peve Minaret Bald Cypress (Taxodium Distichum ‘Peve Minaret’)
Bald Cypress is a dwarf evergreen tree that grows best in zones 4 to 11, and you’ll typically find it growing in swamps in the eastern half of the United States. So, it makes an excellent choice to plant around your ponds where the soil stays very soggy and moist. It’s a very hardy plant that grows best when you plant it in deep, moist soil that has very good drainage. Also, it likes more acidic soil if you can get it over traditional neutral garden soil.
You want to put this tree in an area that is very wet but that gets full sunlight for six to eight hours every day. It’ll turn pumpkin-brown to orange in the fall before it drops the needles. It has a weeping habit with short needles and draping branches, and it gets between 8 to 10 feet high and 3 to 4 feet wide at full maturity.
Taxodium distichum ‘Peve Minaret’ by F.D. Richards / CC BY-SA 2.0
These 20 dwarf evergreen trees can all make excellent additions to your yard or garden, and most of them are very cold-hardy. You can plant most of them in containers if you don’t have dedicated yard space for them, and they’re a low-maintenance way to provide texture and visual interest all year-round.