Small evergreen shrubs for sunny locations

Updated July 19, 2017

Small evergreen shrubs keep most of their leaves throughout the year to provide a constant burst of colour to the garden. Low-growing, they make ideal foundation shrubs and hedge plants when grown in masses around the landscape. Grown in a wide range of shapes, sizes and colours, they are also stunning along shrub borders to help fill in bare or tight spots. Many evergreen shrubs produce spring-blooming flowers that create an added burst of colour and fragrance to the garden.

Little Gem Arborvitae

Little gem arbor vitae (Thuja occidentalis 'Little Gem') is a slow-growing evergreen shrub that has a dense, compact and flattened form that is broad and globose in shape. Low-growing, little gem grows 1 to 3 feet tall. The glossy, dark green, flattened sprays on little gem arbor vitae are glossy and crumpled, and the branches on little gem are horizontal and spreading. As an evergreen, little gem shrubs retain their colour in winter for a vibrant display to the garden. It grows best in full sun to light shade and moist, well-drained soil. Grow little gem arbor vitae in USDA zones 3 to 7a.

Dwarf Yaupon Holly

Dwarf yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria 'Nana') is an evergreen shrub with a moderate to rapid growth rate and medium to fine texture. It grows 3 to 5 feet tall and has a dense, rounded and mound-like form. The close-knit branches on dwarf yaupon are brittle and hold the small, green and white, spring-blooming flowers. Following the flowers are the small, scarlet fruit or drupes that persist into spring. Hardy, dwarf yaupon holly shrubs are both drought- and sea spray-tolerant. They produce ½ inch- to 1 ½ inch-long, dark green, simple foliage that has a yellow tinge when young. Dwarf yaupon holly grows best in full sun and tolerates a wide range of soil conditions, including dry and wet soils. Grow dwarf yaupon holly in USDA zones 7 to 10.

Korean Boxwood

Korean boxwood (Buxus sinica var. insularis 'Wintergreen') is a slow-growing broadleaved evergreen shrub with a compact, dense and mounded form. It grows 2 to 4 feet tall and has a loose, open habit. Korean boxwood produces fragrant, green to yellow flowers that appear in spring. The small, obovate foliage on Korean boxwood shrubs is medium green in colour to turn bronze in winter. Korean boxwood grows best in full sun to part shade and well-drained, moist soil that is sandy. Grow Korean boxwood in USDA zones 4 to 9.

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About the Author

Callie Barber has been writing professionally since 2002. Barber's love for design and writing inspired her to create Design Your Revolution, a blog that shares creative and affordable ways to decorate indoor and outdoor living environments. Her articles have appeared on and Barber holds a Bachelors of Arts in international studies from the University of North Carolina.