You might be tight on space, but that doesn't mean you can't jazz up your yard with perennials, shrubs and even trees. Many of your favorite plants are available in smaller versions, often referred to as "compact," "miniature" or "dwarf" on the plant tag. Here are some of my favorites. -- Jessica Damiano
‘Strawberries & Cream’ hydrangea
This new hot pink lace cap hydrangea has a very compact mounding form, maxing out at just 3-4 feet wide and tall. It blooms constantly from early summer through first frost. As a bonus, it’s one of the few hydrangea macrophyllas, which typically require at least partial shade, that can tolerate full morning sun. 'Strawberries & Cream' will do well in patio containers as well as in the garden.
Lo and Behold butterfly bush
If you love butterfly bushes but can’t accommodate their size, which can reach 10 to 15 feet tall with a considerable width, Buddleias in the Lo and Behold collection offer a wonderful new alternative. Reaching just 18-24 inches tall, they’ll even be happy growing in containers on your patio. What’s more, butterflies are drawn to them just as strongly as to full-size butterfly bushes. Look for 'Blue Chip,' 'Purple Haze,' 'Ice Chip' and 'Lilac Chip' varieties.
Sky Pencil Japanese holly
With a narrow, columnar form, this evergreen tree is perfect for tight spots. Use it as a vertical accent in a large container near your front door or plant a row of them around outdoor seating for a compact privacy screen or wind break. Incorporate stonecrop, geranium or creeping phlox into containers with this holly for an especially eye-catching display. Sky Pencil grows at a moderate rate, reaching 6-8 feet tall and just 2-3 feet wide after several years. Requires full sun.
Grown for its large, juicy, pear-shaped fruit, this small tree produces fragrant white flowers throughout summer. Kumquats are among the hardiest of citrus plants, tolerating short bursts of cold temperatures (but bring them indoors over the winter). Changshou is self-fertilizing, which means you only need one plant to produce fruit. (Only available in the Logee’s catalog and at logees.com)
Bougainvillea Imperial Thai Delight
Who says you can't enjoy the tropics without leaving home? The new Bougainvillea Garden Party Patio Trees boast showy, long-blooming flowers in a variety of colors on dwarf grafted plants that reach just 18 inches tall. Grow one in a container for an eye-catching color accent on a sunny patio or deck, or set the pot in the garden among other plants. Then bring it indoors and treat it as a houseplant over the winter.
Sweet n’ Neat Tomato
Perfect for extra-small garden spaces, balconies and even sunny windowsills, this prolific plant produces an abundance of 1-ounce tomatoes in grape-like clusters. Plants grow just 10 inches tall and 8 inches wide so it can fit into even smaller containers than most other compact tomato plants.
Show Off Sugar Baby forsythia
Forsythia are among the first harbingers of spring, but space-challenged gardeners usually have to appreciate them from afar. Show Off Sugar Baby will make it possible for you to enjoy the cheery yellow flowers up close, as it reaches just 18-30 inches high and wide in full sun. (Available in 2013)