Tall Shrubs for Narrow Areas

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Looking for plants that can fit in narrow areas, while still maintaining vertical interest? Choosing tall, narrow varieties can minimize the amount of pruning and maintenance needed. Try these columnar selections:


These deciduous shrubs are tolerant of a variety of conditions. During the fall, their leaves change color and give way to spiny stems and small berries. Leaf colors differ by variety, from deep reds to chartreuse.

Example Species: Berberis thunbergii “Golden rocket” (4′ tall and 2′ wide) | Berberis thunbergii “Helmond Pillar” (4′ tall and 2′ wide)


This hardy shrub is tolerant of sun and shade, as well as cold winter temperatures. These columnar varieties are great for hedges, screening, or green fence lines.

Example Species: Buxus sempevirens “Graham Blandy” (8′ tall x 1′ wide) | Buxus “Green Mountain” (5′ tall x 3′ wide) | Buxus “Green Tower” (9′ tall x 2′ wide)

Blue Surprise Port Oxford Cedar:

This evergreen conifer stands out with its light blue foliage. In the winter you can expect a hint of purple to appear. Use it next to other materials with yellow or dark green foliage for a striking contrast.

Example Species: Chamaecyparis “Blue Surprise” (6′ tall and 2′ wide)

Evergreen Euonymus:

There seems to be a Euonymus for every use, from groundcovers to hedges. This variety is a dense, narrow selection that works well as a hedge or screen.  It is tolerant of some shade, but prefers sun.

Example Species: Euonymus “Green Spire” (7′ tall and 1′ wide)

Japanese Holly:

This well-behaved, columnar variety features small purple fruit in the fall. Unlike many Holly varieties, “Sky Pencil” lacks spines on its leaves, making it more suitable around people spaces. It is also well adapted to cold weather climates.

Example Species: Ilex crenata ” Sky Pencil” (7′ tall and 2′ wide)


Here’s another plant with many available cultivars, ranging from ground covers to shrubs. Rosemary is drought tolerant and provides small blue flowers over a long period. “Blue Spires” and “Barbeque” are two cultivars that provide more vertical growth.

Example Species: Rosmarinus “Blue Spires” (4′ tall and 3′ wide)

Article written by Erik Gellerman

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