Use Japanese Maples for shade, as screens, or planted singly or in groups for their interesting autumn foliage. Red-leafed types stand out dramatically against a dark green background of evergreens. Weeping types, which are smaller and finer textured, can easily integrate into a garden bed or border. They'll also grow in containers 2 to 3 feet wide by 1 to 1-1/2 feet deep. These trees are great for beside a deck or patio.
Underplant small Japanese Maples in shrub borders or garden beds with a groundcover which will serve as a living mulch. Pachysandra or English ivy are good choices. Low growing junipers also look quite special as an accent to the lacey Japanese Maple foliage.
In certain situations, the smaller trees can be used as a foundation planting along with the rhododendrons. They may need a little pruning to keep them to size. Be sure to plant them far enough from the foundation to have room for their lacy spread.