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A Guide to Small Foundation Evergreens – Pine, Spruce and Yew

Natural or more formal, small foundation evergreens are versatile and reliable.


Found in most of Ontario, the eastern white pine can grow to be quite large.  Here we see it in the dwarf variety where it remains at a much smaller size.  Dwarf White Pine is a very attractive shrub-like form of the native white pine tree.  It grows slowly into an irregular mounded shape, reaching anything between 4 and 7 feet tall in time, and spreading 6 to 10 feet across.


There are many dwarf evergreens well suited to small spaces or gardens, in shrub or dwarf tree forms.  Spruce is a very good example of exceptional small foundation plants.  Their naturally compact form means little, if any, pruning is necessary to maintain their small stature and they deliver colour and texture year-round.  Although we have included only one example, there are others available.


Nothing is more useful in a garden than an easy-care evergreen.  These versatile trees are available in a variety of sizes from low-growing groundcovers to mid-size shrubs or elegant trees.  Yews are long lived evergreens and once established, caring for yews requires very little maintenance. Yews are fine-needled, dark green evergreens that add beauty and grace to nearly any landscape.

Dwarf Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus Nana)

A lovely, soft sea-green needles. It is very compact, slow growing and grows in a dense, rounded form that will become broadly conical with age.


Birds Nest Spruce - (Picea abies Nidiformis)

A slow-growing dwarf cultivar that is appropriately named bird's nest spruce due to the depression (nest) in the middle of its tight, compact, mounded habit. Grown for its compact size & beautiful evergreen foliage.


Dwarf Alberta Spruce - (Picea glauca Conica)

A very popular dwarf evergreen with uniform branching. Emerging light green, its fine needles turn to blue-green as they mature. It is slow growing at only 4 inches per year making it a perfect choice for small garden applications.


Yew - Fun Fact The yew was revered by ancient peoples, who viewed its ability to stay green throughout the winter as magical.

Dense Yew - (Taxus x media Densiformis)

A versatile foundation plant that is a semi-dwarf, spreading evergreen. It is rounded when young and spreads with age. It is a slow grower at 3”-5” per year reaching a height of 3’-4’ and 4’-6’ wide.

Hybrid Spreading Yew

New Selection Yew - (Taxus x media New Selection)

An ideal landscape shrub with a dense tighter branching habit, and bright green emerging foliage eventually becomes a deep dark green; an extremely versatile garden or foundation shrub.

Hybrid Yew

Hicks Yew - (Taxus x media Hicksii)

This shrub makes a prized hedge as it is one of the easiest to grow. It likes sun or shade or both and once established it is disease resistance, drought tolerant and can take a vigorous pruning.

Hybrid Yew

Hills Yew - (Taxus x media Hillii)

A unique shade lover, it has an upright oval to pyramidal habit with bright green emerging foliage is held against dark evergreen needles in spring. Makes a great upright hedge & takes pruning very well.

Hybrid Yew

Ward's Yew - (Taxus x media Wardii)

A dense multi-stemmed evergreen shrub with ground-hugging growth. Dark green foliage emerges light green. Its relatively fine texture sets it apart from other landscape plants.

Hybrid Yew

Dwarf Japanese Yew - (Taxus cuspidata Nana Aurescens)

An outstanding, sunny-yellow, low-spreading, dwarf selection of Japanese yew. It is noted for its eye-catching brilliant yellow foliage in spring that darkens to typical rich green by the end of the growing season.

Japanese Yew

Capitata Japanese Yew - (Taxus cuspidata Capitata)

A dense, pyramidal large evergreen shrub or small tree with beautiful deep green needles, which maintains its habit into old age. Needles emerge light green but remain dark green all winter. Ideal for small-scale uses.

Japanese Yew

Please contact Glen Echo Nurseries for current inventory availability:
905-584-9973 or 905-584-1475

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