Plants for a Small Urban Garden

Check out these plants perfect for a small garden and the planting information for each zone.

paperbark maple cinnamon colored exfoliating bark

This deciduous tree has cinnamon-colored exfoliating bark.

Related To:

  1. Garden Zones
  2. Lawns

Paperbark Maple

Acer griseum

  • Small to medium deciduous tree with cinnamon-colored exfoliating bark and red fall color
  • Plant in rich, moist but well-drained soil; fertilize in spring
  • Plant in full sun to light shade; prune while dormant in winter
  • Height: 20-30 feet
  • Width: 15-25 feet

Hardy in USDA zones 4-8:

  • Zone 4: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch after first hard frost.
  • Zone 5: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch after first hard frost.
  • Zone 6: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch after first hard frost.
  • Zone 7: Plant in early fall; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch after first hard frost; color will be brighter in full sun.
  • Zone 8: Plant in early fall; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch after first hard frost; color will be brighter in full sun.
  • Zone 9: Plant in early fall; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch in fall; color will be brighter in full sun.

Japanese Maple

Acer palmatum

japanese maple has green or variegated foliage

Japanese maples should be planted in full sun to light shade.

  • Small to medium deciduous tree with green or variegated foliage, depending upon cultivar
  • Plant in rich, moist but well-drained soil; fertilize in spring
  • Plant in full sun to light shade; prune while dormant in winter
  • Height: 10-12 feet
  • Width: 6-12 feet

Hardy in USDA zones 5-9:

  • Zone 5: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch after first hard frost.
  • Zone 6: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch after first hard frost.
  • Zone 7: Plant in early fall; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch after first hard frost; color will be brighter in full sun.
  • Zone 8: Plant in early fall; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch after first hard frost; color will be brighter in full sun.
  • Zone 9: Plant in early fall; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch in fall; color will be brighter in full sun.

Berry Heavy Winterberry Holly

Ilex verticillata 'Berry Heavy'

berry heavy winterberry holly has profuse berries

This deciduous shrub bears red berries into winter.

  • Large, suckering deciduous shrub noted for its profusion of red berries along the stem that persist into winter
  • Female cultivar requiring a male cultivar for berry production
  • Plant in rich, moist to wet soil
  • Plant in full sun to light shade
  • Height: 6-8 feet
  • Width: 4-6 feet, suckering

Hardy in USDA zones 3-9:

  • Zone 3: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt.
  • Zone 4: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt.
  • Zone 5: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt.
  • Zone 6: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch after first hard frost.
  • Zone 7: Plant in early fall; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch after first hard frost.
  • Zone 8: Plant in early fall; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch after first hard frost.
  • Zone 9: Plant in early fall; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch in fall.

Weeping Alaskan Cedar

Chamaecyparis nootkatensis 'Van den Akker'

weeping alaskan cedar is a weeping evergreen

Plant this weeping evergreen in full sun.

  • Narrow, columnar, weeping evergreen with dark green foliage
  • Plant in loose, organic soil that is well drained
  • Plant in full sun
  • Height: 30-45 feet
  • Width: 10-15 feet

Hardy in USDA zones 4-7:

  • Zone 4: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt.
  • Zone 5: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt.
  • Zone 6: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun; mulch after first hard frost.
  • Zone 7: Plant in early fall; plant in full sun; mulch after first hard frost.

Zebra or Porcupine (Maiden) Grass

Miscanthus sinensis 'Strictus'

zebra,porcupine or maiden grass is ornamental

Miscanthus sinensis is a non-native invasive grass from Asia.

Gardener's Note: Miscanthus sinensis is a non-native invasive grass from Asia. It has escaped cultivation and invaded natural areas throughout the Midwest and South.

  • Large upright ornamental grass with gold-banded foliage and copper plumes
  • Plant in full sun to light shade
  • Can be invasive
  • Tolerant of a wide range of soil
  • Prune back to ground in late winter to early spring; fertilize in spring
  • Divide every few years in early spring
  • Height: 4-9 feet
  • Width: 2-6 feet

Hardy in zones 5-9:

  • Zone 5: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch after first frost to prevent winter heaving; remove mulch in spring; avoid exposure to salt; plant may flop over in heavy snow or ice.
  • Zone 6: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch in fall; remove mulch in spring; plant may flop over in heavy snow or ice.
  • Zone 7: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch in fall; remove mulch in spring; plant may flop over in heavy snow or ice.
  • Zone 8: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch in fall; remove mulch in spring.
  • Zone 9: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch in fall; remove mulch in spring.

Oriental Fountain Grass

Pennisetum orientale 'Karley Rose'

oriental fountain grass is dwarf ornamental grass

Oriental fountain grass should be pruned while it is dormant in winter.

  • Dwarf, finely textured ornamental grass with rosy-purple seed heads and good fall color
  • Plant in organic, but well drained soil; water when dry; fertilize in spring
  • Plant in full sun; prune while dormant in winter.
  • Height: 2-3 feet
  • Width: 2-3 feet

Hardy in USDA zones 6-8:

  • Zone 6: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch after first hard frost; fertilize in spring with balanced fertilizer.
  • Zone 7: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch after first hard frost; fertilize in spring with balanced fertilizer.
  • Zone 8: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch in fall; fertilize in spring with balanced fertilizer.

Lily Turf

Liriope muscari

lily turf is a ground cover with linear foliage

This groundcover bears blue-purple flowers in fall.

  • Thick, tufted evergreen ground cover with linear foliage
  • Blue-purple flowers in fall followed by a dark berries
  • Plant in full sun to full shade
  • Prune or mow in late winter; divide in spring
  • Plant in fertile, moist but well-drained soil; water freely until established
  • Height: 12 inches
  • Width: 18 inches

Hardy in zones 6-10:

  • Zone 6: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to partial shade; mulch in fall; protect from drying winds.
  • Zone 7: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun to partial shade; mulch in fall; protect from drying winds.
  • Zone 8: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun to moderate shade; mulch in fall; protect from drying winds.
  • Zone 9: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun to full shade; mulch in fall; protect from drying winds.
  • Zone 10: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun to full shade; mulch in fall; protect from drying winds.

Yukon Belle Firethorn

Pyracantha angustifolia 'Monon'

yukon belle firethorn is extremely thorny

On this evergreen groundcover, white flowers appear in spring and orange flowers in winter.

  • Evergreen to semi-evergreen shrub with white flowers in spring and orange flowers in winter
  • Extremely thorny
  • Plant in rich garden soil that is well-drained
  • Plant in full sun; prune while dormant
  • Height: 8-10 feet
  • Width: 6-8 feet

Hardy in USDA zones 5-8:

  • Zone 5: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; avoid exposure to salt; mulch heavily after first frost; pull back mulch in spring; may be semi-evergreen in this zone.
  • Zone 6: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch after first frost; pull back mulch in spring.
  • Zone 7: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun; mulch after first frost; pull back mulch in spring.
  • Zone 8: Plant in early fall; plant in full sun; mulch in fall; pull back mulch in spring.

White Mazus

Mazus reptans 'Albus'

white mazus is a mat forming ground cover

The white mazus should be planted in full sun to partial shade.

  • Evergreen to semi-evergreen mat-forming groundcover with white flowers in late spring to early summer
  • Plant in rich garden soil that is moist, but well-drained
  • Plant in full sun to partial shade
  • Height: 1-2 inches
  • Width: 12 inches

Hardy in USDA zones 5-8:

  • Zone 5: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; avoid exposure to salt; mulch heavily after first frost; pull back mulch in spring; may be semi-evergreen in this zone.
  • Zone 6: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch after first frost; pull back mulch in spring.
  • Zone 7: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun; mulch after first frost; pull back mulch in spring.
  • Zone 8: Plant in early fall; plant in full sun; mulch in fall; pull back mulch in spring.

Creme Brulee Coreopsis

Coreopsis 'Creme Brulee'

creme brulee coreopsis has daisy like flowers

This perennial has yellow daisy-like flowers from spring through summer.

  • Upright perennial with yellow daisy-like flowers in spring through summer and fern-like foliage
  • Plant in well-drained soil; water when dry
  • Plant in full sun to light shade
  • Height: 18-20 inches
  • Width: 12-18 inches

Hardy in USDA zones 5-8:

  • Zone 5: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; plant in full sun; apply extra mulch after first hard frost; pull back mulch in spring; avoid contact with salt.
  • Zone 6: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; apply extra mulch after first hard frost; pull back mulch in spring
  • Zone 7: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to light shade.
  • Zone 8: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun to light shade.

Sarah English Lavender

Lavandula angustifolia 'Sarah'

sarah english lavender blooms profusely in spring

This variety of lavender grows in full sun in all zones.

  • Profuse blue-purple flowering in spring
  • Attractive evergreen gray-blue aromatic foliage
  • Grow in full sun in all zones
  • Grow in fertile, but sharply drained soil
  • Height: 6-12 inches
  • Width:12-18 inches

Hardy in USDA zones 5-9:

  • Zones 5: Plant in spring; mulch lightly to conserve moisture; remove old flower heads and leggy growth in early spring and after flowering.
  • Zones 6: Plant in spring; mulch lightly to conserve moisture; remove old flower heads and leggy growth in early spring and after flowering.
  • Zones 7: Plant in spring; mulch lightly to conserve moisture; remove old flower heads and leggy growth in early spring and after flowering.
  • Zones 8: Plant in spring; mulch lightly to conserve moisture; remove old flower heads and leggy growth in early spring and after flowering.
  • Zones 9: Plant in spring; mulch lightly to conserve moisture; remove old flower heads and leggy growth in early spring and after flowering.

Genovese Basil

Ocimum basilicum 'Genovese'

genovese basil is an aromatic annual

Basil can be an annual or short-lived perennial.

  • Aromatic annual or short-lived perennial
  • Grow in full sun in all zones
  • Grow in fertile, but sharply drained soil
  • Height: 18-24 inches
  • Width: 12-15 inches

Annual in USDA zones 2-8

  • Perennial in USDA zones 9-11:
  • Zones 2-8: Plant in spring after danger of frost has passed; mulch lightly to conserve moisture; pinch out flower heads to promote foliage growth.
  • Zones 9-11: Plant in spring; mulch lightly to conserve moisture; pinch out flower heads to promote foliage growth.

Robert Mitchum Peppermint

Mentha 'Robert Mitchum'

robert mitchum peppermint is strongly aromatic

The foliage on peppermint is strongly aromatic.

  • Vigorous if not invasive creeping perennial herb with lilac flowers in the summer and foliage that tastes like peppermint
  • Foliage strongly aromatic
  • Grow in fertile, moist or damp soil
  • Grow in full sun in all zones
  • Grow in containers if concerned above invasiveness
  • Height: to 12-18 inches
  • Width: to infinity

Hardy in USDA zones 6-10:

  • Zones 6: Plant in spring; mulch in spring and heavier in fall; prune frequently to keep in check; root cuttings indoors for spring planting in marginal areas.
  • Zones 7: Plant in spring; mulch in spring and heavier in fall; prune to keep in check as needed.
  • Zones 8: Plant in spring; mulch in spring and fall; prune to keep in check as needed.
  • Zones 9: Plant in spring; mulch in spring and fall; prune to keep in check as needed.
  • Zones 10: Plant in spring; mulch in spring and fall; prune to keep in check as needed.

Berggarten Sage in Bloom

Salvia officinalis 'Berggarten'

berggarten sage has showy lilac blue flowers

This woody evergreen herb is very short-lived.

  • Perennial woody evergreen herb with hairy green leaves and lilac blue flowers
  • Very short-lived, often grown as a perennial
  • Plant in full sun
  • Plant in average, but sharply drained soil; does not tolerate winter moisture
  • Divide every few years in early spring
  • Height: 12-18 inches
  • Width: 18-24 inches

Hardy in USDA zones 5-8:

  • Zone 5: Plant in spring after danger of frost has passed; mulch for protection; plant in full sun; water when dry.
  • Zone 6: Plant in spring after danger of frost has passed; mulch for protection; plant in full sun; water when dry.
  • Zone 7: Plant in spring after danger of frost has passed; plant in full sun; water when dry.
  • Zone 8: Plant in spring after danger of frost has passed; plant in full sun; water when dry.

Rosemary

Rosmarinus officinalis

rosemary is popular herb used in variety of dishes

Rosemary is a favorite of some topiary enthusiasts because it can be trimmed into various shapes.

  • Herb is often used in chicken, potato and French dishes.
  • Pale blue flowers
  • Grows up to 3 feet tall.
  • Favorite of bonsai and topiary enthusiasts because it can be trimmed into various shapes
  • Zones 6-11

Care for Rosemary:

  • Full sun
  • Loves to be pruned regularly
  • Regular watering to establish plant, then it's recognized for its drought-tolerance
  • Zones 6-7: Plant in early spring; mulch in spring and again heavier in fall; place in warmer micro-climate near structure or protected area; prune in spring to desired shape.
  • Zones 8: Plant in spring or early fall; mulch in spring and fall; prune in spring to desired shape.
  • Zones 9: Plant in spring or early fall; mulch in fall; prune in spring to desired shape.
  • Zones 10: Plant in spring or early fall; mulch in fall; prune in spring to desired shape.
  • Zones 11: Plant in spring or early fall; mulch in fall; prune in spring to desired shape.

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