Shrubs can form the foundation of a landscape, delineating beds and boundaries, and separating planting spaces from one another. If you have a small yard or if you want to plant shrubs near other small plants, shrubs under 2 feet tall can complement your garden. There are a variety of dwarf shrub cultivars available. Most don’t grow more than 3 feet tall, and many can thrive in containers, planter boxes or other small areas.
The dwarf purple leaf barberry (Berberis thunbergii atropurpurea ‘Crimson Pygmy’) only grows up to a foot tall with an equal spread. This small deciduous shrub has reddish-purple foliage and produces red fruits. The dwarf purple leaf barberry thrives in full sun.
The bearberry cotoneaster (Cotoneaster dammeri) is an evergreen shrub hardy to zone 5. This fast-grower reaches heights up to 2 feet but can spread up to 6 feet wide. Bearberry cotoneasters prefer moist, well-drained soil and produce white spring blossoms.
The creeping juniper (Juniperus horizontalis) also thrives in full sun. A small evergreen, the creeping juniper spreads to 4 feet wide but only grows to a foot tall. This drought-tolerant shrub is hardy to zone 5.
The Nana dwarf yaupon (Ilex vomitoria nana) grows up to 2 feet tall with an equal spread. This member of the holly family has glossy, broadleaf foliage and grows slowly to moderately. Nana dwarf yaupons are between zones 7 and 10 and tolerate a range of soil conditions.
The dwarf bamboo (Bambusa sasa pygara) only grows to a foot tall. This tiny evergreen spreads in clumps. Dwarf bamboo tolerates cold temperatures and can thrive in containers.
The Gumpo dwarf indica azalea (Rhododendron eriocarpum ‘Gumpo’) grows from 1 to 2 feet tall with an equal spread. An evergreen, this shrub flowers in late summer and is hardy from zones 6 through 8.
The creeping gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides 'Radicans') also grows from 1 to 2 feet tall but only spreads to 3 feet. This evergreen thrives in acidic, well-drained soil. Creeping gardenia is hardy to zone 7b and blooms in late spring with fragrant, white flowers.
The holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum) thrives in full shade and moist, well-drained soil. Holly ferns grow slowly up to 18 inches high. Plant this hardy evergreen in a container or in a cool, shaded spot.
The aspidistra (Aspidistra elatior) also prefers shade. A broadleaf evergreen, this slow-growing plant reaches heights up to 2 feet. Aspidistra is hardy between zones 7 and 10.