Plants for a Narrow Garden

Turn a narrow space into a spectacular sight with these top picks for tight spots.

Columnar plants are great in a narrow garden—they don’t take up much width. More columnar cultivars become available each year. Some tall, narrow favourites include:

  • Leland cypress (x Cupressocyparis leylandii): Particularly effective for bold vertical accents reaching well into the air; grows to 15 feet wide and 100 feet tall, but can be sheared and kept narrow if desired; Zones 6 to 9.
  •  Columnar juniper (Juniperus scopulorum ‘Skyrocket’): Stays quite narrow; grows to 2 feet wide and 15 feet tall; Zones 3 to 7.
  • Irish yew (Taxus ‘Fastigiata’): Grows 4 to 8 feet wide and 15 to 30 feet tall; Zones 5 to 7.
  • Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii ‘Helmond Pillar’): Grows 2 feet wide and 5 feet tall; Zones 4 to 7.
  • Japanese holly (Ilex crenata ‘Sky Pencil’): Grows 1 foot wide and 6 feet tall; Zones 5 to 8.

Ornamental grasses, particularly the genus Miscanthus with its graceful habit, work well in narrow sites.

Vines and creeping plants that climb upward on a structure, such as wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald Gaiety’, Zones 5 to 9), add a vertical element to narrow sites.

Plants that form a narrow base and overhead canopy when you remove their lower branches work well for narrow spaces. Try panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Kyushu’ and ‘Tardiva’, Zones 4 to 8) and crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica ‘Natchez’, Zones 7 to 9).

Liriope, hosta, and yucca are easy-care perennials that stay neat and tidy in a contained space. Low creepers, such as yellow-flowered Waldsteinia ternata (Zones 3 to 8) and checkerberry (Gaultheria procumbens, Zones 3 to 8) help fill the lowest level of the garden.

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