These days the newer houses and condominiums have smaller yards and if you grow staple plants you will go short of space very quickly.

Modern windows often are so well insulated that the window feature reaches almost to the ground. Smaller foundation plants that grow slowly and require little or no pruning over the years are an ideal match for such sites.

Dwarf conifers could be one of the best choices to be grown under such living conditions where smaller, slower growing plants would be more suitable.

Conifers are cone-bearing evergreens. Their colors range from pale moonbeam yellow to bold gold, from lime green to olive and from almost black to silver or steel blue. Some are variegated. Most have needle-like leaves that are retained all year.

Conifers are friendly to wildlife, providing protection and food to birds, squirrels and other animals.

Dwarf conifers are plants that do not grow to the normal size of the species or take many years to do so. They are slow-growing and generally one-twentieth the size of the species. Most are mutations of commonly known conifers, such as pines, spruces, firs, junipers and cedars.

Conifers can become dwarfed if they are grown in a climate or under soil conditions that are so severe that over time the plants develop dwarf characteristics. They often retain these dwarf characteristics in cultivation, but may grow faster and larger than in the wild.

Dwarfing of the conifers is also a result of the seedling mutation, a change in gene arrangements, that alter the seedling’s growth rate, shape, color or leaf shape from that of the parent plant.

Dwarf conifers can be found in a variety of colors, as mentioned above, but also in a variety of shapes or growth habits. Some might lay flat on the ground like a mat, such as creeping junipers. Some create a mound. Some are round, oval, columnar or pyramidal.

You should preferably study a bit about their growth habits so that you could choose the most appropriate variety for your own home and garden. With the dwarf conifers the landscaping possibilities are almost endless.

The ideal time for planting dwarf conifers is between October and March, when the ground is not frozen, and the plants are in a semi-dormant condition. They generally prefer a sunny somewhat protected location and slightly acidic soil that is well drained.

It is best to use fertilizer sparingly. Highly fertile soil will promote growth. A surface application of organic matter such as shredded bark or leaf mold will usually provide an adequate source of nutrients while controlling weeds, conserving moisture and keeping the soil cool.

The slow growth rate of dwarf conifers offers the distinct and practical advantage that very little, if any, pruning is required.

Dwarf conifers will provide beauty throughout all four seasons. In the spring, their new growth is a rich color. In the summer, they provide a backdrop for the blooms of annuals and perennials. In the fall their colors contrast with autumn reds, oranges and yellows. In the winter months, most retain their needles and their color adds welcome winter interest.

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