- Developing Your Spring Fertilization Program
- Narrow trees for small gardens and tight spaces
- The benefits of narrow trees for small gardens
- Top 10 narrow trees for small gardens
- Trees for Your Garden
- A tree for every garden. 10 small trees
- Prunus, ornamental cherries
- Sorbus, mountain ash
- Amelanchier, the Juneberry or Snowy Mespilus
- Acers, the Japanese variety
- Maples such as Acer griseum
- Pyrus salicifolia Pendula
- Cercis canadensis Forest Pansy
- Cornus kousa
- Crataegus, Hawthorn
Developing Your Spring Fertilization Program
It is important to choose trees that can grow in the given amount of space.
The average home consists of 2,500 square feet, almost double the house size in the 1970s, according to U.S. Census data, but that means yards are shrinking and leaving less space for trees.
This seems like a problem, as trees offer multiple benefits and some yards can seem wanting without this landscaping favorite.
As Total Landscape Care noted in its story on topping trees, the practice is ill-advised on many levels. So, if your customer wants a tree in their small space, encourage them to select a tree that won’t grow to be a problem.
When planting a tree near a home’s foundation, the distance between the tree trunk and foundation should be one-third to one-half the maximum tree height.
Here is a list of some popular ornamental trees that offer beautiful color throughout the seasons and won’t grow any larger than 20 feet at mature height.
Zuni Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica x fauriei ‘Zuni’)
The Zuni crape myrtle is a semi-dwarf, multi-stemmed deciduous tree that boasts of rich, dark lavender flowers that bloom from mid-July to September. In the fall, its leaves turn orange-red to maroon and it has multicolored bark that stands out during the winter. Ideal for city gardens and mildew resistant. Grows 9 to 12 feet tall and 8 to 10 feet wide.
- USDA Hardiness Zones: 6-10
- Full sun
Blue Surprise Port Orford Cedar (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Blue Surprise’)
This evergreen features silvery-blue foliage and has a narrow growth habit with dense branches. It can be used for year-round interest or as an accent to low shrub borders. It has a slow growth rate. Monrovia offers this cultivar in the Guardian root stock, which was developed by Oregon State University to be resistant to Phytophthora lateralis. Grows 5 to 10 feet tall and 2 to 4 feet wide.
- USDA Hardiness Zones: 6-9
- Full sun
Tina Sargent Crabapple (Malus sargentii ‘Tina’)
A dwarf variety of crabapple that is particularly cold hardy, Tina Sargent features red buds that blossom into white flowers in April and May. It produces bright red berries that can attract birds. Its waving branches make it a good choice for a specimen planting and it stands out best against a background of dark evergreens. Grows 2 to 4 feet tall and 4 to 5 feet wide.
- USDA Hardiness Zones: 4-8
- Full sun
Thundercloud Purple Leaf Plum (Prunus cerasifera ‘Thundercloud’)
Also commonly called a cherry plum, this tree creates stunning pink spring blossoms much like a cherry tree would. Like its name would suggest, Thundercloud has deep purple foliage much like a looming storm. To achieve this foliage, be sure to plant it in full sun; the leaves turn chartreuse if in too much shade. Attracts both birds and butterflies. Grows 20 feet tall and wide.
- USDA Hardiness Zones: 4-9
- Full sun
Pacific Fire Vine Maple (Acer circinatum ‘Pacific Fire’)
During the summer, this vine maple produces lime green leaves that turn gold by the fall. Its brilliant red stems make it an excellent choice for winter interest. As the tree grows, the older branches turn a softer orange-red. It thrives in well-drained soil but can tolerate sand and clay. Grows 8 to 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide.
- USDA Hardiness Zones: 5-9
- Partial to full sun
Forever Goldie Golden Arborvitae (Thuja pilcata ‘4ever Goldy’)
A golden evergreen that does not shed, its foliage will take an orange hue in fall. It has a columnar shape that can be used in containers or at the back of a border. It tolerates a range of soils and has scented foliage. Heat tolerant. Grows 15 to 20 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide.
- USDA Hardiness Zones: 3-7
- Full sun
Jade Butterfly Maidenhair Tree (Ginkgo biloba ‘Jade Butterfly’)
A deciduous, dwarf variety of ginkgo, the Jade Butterfly Maidenhair Tree is a fruitless male. It has lovely green leaves that turn a bright yellow in the fall. It can handle both alkaline and acidic soils. Slow-growing and deer resistant. Grows 12 to 15 feet tall and up to 10 feet wide.
- USDA Hardiness Zones: 4-9
- Full sun
Emperor I Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum ‘Wolff’)
A cold hardy variety of Japanese maple that features blackish-red bark. One of the best cultivars for smaller city yards, it can be used to accent entries or around an outdoor living space. In the fall, the leaves turn a burning red. The color is most intense in full sun, but for hotter climates it is best to plant it in a partial sun area. Grows 15 feet tall and wide.
- USDA Hardiness Zones: 5-8
- Partial to full sun
Narrow trees for small gardens and tight spaces
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Let’s face it. Most gardeners aren’t working with an endless amount of space. We have small yards and gardens and a limited amount of time to dedicate to taking care of our outdoor spaces. Small-space gardening is a must for many of us in today’s fast-paced, urban world. All too often big trees are planted in small gardens and yards where they quickly outgrow the space and have to be drastically pruned or removed altogether. Today, I’d like to tell you about some absolutely amazing narrow trees for small gardens. These columnar trees are also perfect for tight spaces, such as the area between your home and driveway, along a fence line, or when planted in a row, they’ll even serve as a privacy shield against nearby neighbors.
The benefits of narrow trees for small gardens
Narrow trees like the ones I’m about to introduce you to are perfect for today’s ever-shrinking landscapes. Their slender growth habit means they don’t take up much horizontal space while still giving the beauty only a tree can give. Yes, some of these varieties grow quite tall, but even in the smallest of gardens, the sky is the limit! More often than not, making use of vertical space is the best way to expand a small garden and add another dimension and layer of interest.
Narrow evergreen trees, like this one, look great in containers and provide additional interest in the winter.
Compact gardens and yards can benefit from these narrow trees in many other ways, too. Not only do they add design flair, but many of these trees for small gardens also produce edible berries, cones, and seeds enjoyed by birds and other urban wildlife. Plus, though only one of the trees on this list has showy blooms, even the small, nondescript flowers of the other trees provide pollen and nectar for pollinators. Plus, the leaves of some of them even serve as caterpillar host plants for several species of butterflies.
Top 10 narrow trees for small gardens
- Ilex crenata ‘Sky Pencil’: This narrow, upright evergreen is a smooth-leaved holly that reaches about 6 feet in height but is only 2 to 3 feet wide. Like other hollies, the male and female plants are separate. The females of this species produce tiny purple berries, but only when a pollinating male plant is nearby. ‘Sky Pencil’ hollies are lovely trees for small gardens, and their evergreen growth habit means they provide winter interest, too. Hardy in zones 5-9. Source.
‘Sky Pencil’ hollies make great additions to small backyards and containers. Their upright growth means they don’t take up a lot of room. Photo courtesy of Doreen Wynja from Monrovia Nurseries.
2. Crimson Spire™ oak (Quercus robur x Q. alba ‘Crimschmidt’): This unique oak tree is very tall — up to 40 feet — but remains fairly narrow at just 15 to 20 feet wide (yes, that’s quite narrow for an oak!). The fall color is exceptional. A stunning tree all around, but an especially valuable tree for small gardens due to its ability to support a wide array of native insects and the songbirds who eat them. Hardy in zones 5-9. Source.
3. Prunus serrulata ‘Amanogawa’: This lovely flowering Japanese cherry is slender and columnar, making it the perfect tree for small yards and gardens where color is desired. It blooms in early spring when the branches are covered in pale pink flowers. The blooms are followed by green leaves that turn a beautiful orange in the autumn. ‘Amanogawa’ will reach 25 feet in height but only 10 feet in width. It’s a seriously beautiful narrow tree. Hardy in zones 5-8. Source.
Pink cherry blossoms, including those that occur on the narrow variety Prunus serrulata ‘Amanogawa’, are beautiful additions to the spring garden.
4. Populus tremula ‘Erecta’: This thin cultivar of the Swedish aspen tree is great for slender garden areas and small yards. It’s very cold hardy and has heart-shaped leaves that move in the wind. Though it’s deciduous and looses its leaves in the winter, this columnar tree’s structure is lovely even without its foliage. Though its width is very limited, it can grow up to 40 feet tall. And, it’s hardy all the way down to zone 2. Source.
5. Betula platyphylla ‘Fargo’: Otherwise known as the Dakota Pinnacle® birch, this columnar tree has leaves that turn a brilliant yellow in the fall and white, peeling bark. It’s also resistant to the bronze birch borer, which is another definite plus. Among the most statuesque of all the columnar trees for small gardens, the Dakota pinnacle birch grows upwards of 25 feet tall at maturity but is only 8 to 10 feet wide. Hardy in zones 3-7. Source.
6. Carpinus betulus ‘Columnaris Nana’: Though hornbeams are fairly rigid, narrow trees to begin with, this variety is even more well-behaved. They’re like perfect garden sculptures that reach only 5 feet tall at full maturity. The slow growth rate of ‘Columnaris Nana’ means it takes a long time for this columnar tree to reach that 6 foot height, which is yet another reason that makes this tree a must on any list of trees for small gardens. Rich, medium green leaves grace the branches; they turn a brilliant yellow in the autumn. Hardy in zones 4-8. Source.
Hornbeams are well-mannered plants to begin with, but the small variety known as Carpinus betulus ‘Columnaris Nana,’ shown here at a nursery, only reaches 5 feet tall at maturity.
7. Acer palmatum ‘Twombly’s Red Sentinel’: Though most Japanese maples are wide spreading, this cultivar boasts very upright growth, making it one of the best trees for small gardens and tight spaces. The foliage is deep red all season long; even the stems are red. ‘Twombly’s Red Sentinel’ maxes out at 15 feet in height and spreads just 6 feet wide. Hardy in zones 5-8. Source.
8. Liquidamber styraciflua ‘Slender Silhouette’: This beautiful variety of sweetgum, grows upwards of 60 feet tall, but its very tight, short branches mean the plant’s spread is a mere 6 to 8 feet, making it a real standout in the landscape. The red fall color is spectacular, and it’s fairly fast growing. Yes, this sweetgum variety also produces spiky seed balls like other sweetgums, but not huge quantities of them. ‘Slender Silhouette’ is also a larval host plant for many different butterflies and moths. It’s a great narrow tree for a small garden! Hardy in zones 5-8. Source.
Sweetgums are known for their beautiful fall color and their ability to serve as a food source for many different butterfly and moth caterpillars.
9. Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Wissel’s Saguaro’: A slow-growing tree unlike anything else you’ve ever seen, this narrow tree is straight out of a Dr. Seuss book! It’s upright branches look a bit like a saguaro cactus, hence the cultivar’s name. This unique false cypress is evergreen and reaches a height of about 10 feet, with a spread of just 6 to 8 feet. In my opinion, it’s the most unique of all the trees for small gardens. It’s hardy in zones 4-9. Source.
10. Chamaecyparis nootakatensis ‘Vanden Akker’: Skinny is the best word to describe this columnar tree for small yards and gardens. The thinnest of all the weeping Alaska cedars, it reaches 20 feet tall but is only 1 foot wide! That’s right – 1 foot! The tight branches weep while the central trunk grows straight up. This extremely narrow evergreen tree is a truly amazing addition to any compact garden space. Hardy from zones 5-8. Source.
Want more choices? Visit this page for an additional list of: 15 Dwarf Evergreen Trees for Yards and Gardens.
As you can see, small-space gardeners have lots of options when it comes to narrow trees for the landscape. All of these choices add vertical structure and interest, and let’s face it — they look downright fabulous while doing it! Include some of these trees for small gardens in your yard and enjoy everything they offer.
For more on gardening in small spaces, check out our list of recommended books:
Small-space Vegetable Gardens by Andrea Bellamy
Small-space Garden Ideas by Philippa Pierson
The Less is More Garden by Susan Morrison
And for more advice on growing in tight quarters, check out these other posts:
- Trees to create privacy in big and small yards
- Dwarf evergreen shrubs for small yards
- Growing berries in containers
- 3 Small trees for the landscape
- 15 Dwarf Evergreen Trees for Yards and Gardens
- 6 Things to think about before preparing a raised bed garden
- Miniature plants for a miniature garden
Do you have a small yard? Tell us how you bring it to life in the comment section below!
Even small yards and gardens can be home to a variety of trees to provide fruit, shade, wildlife habitat, or all three.
Trees are simply amazing. From a single small seed or nut can grow a relatively enormous solar-powered, air-purifying, hydraulic machine that produces everything it needs from sunshine, soil, and water.
Science is great, and technology is awesome, but science has never made a living tree by anything other than planting a seed or taking a cutting (clone), and it’s nature that then takes over and grows a tree based on its own genetic makeup, according to its own internal ‘programming.’ Perhaps one day in the distant future we’ll be able to go 3D-print an apple tree, or build an internet-connected modular maple tree from a kit, or have access to hyper-trees that grow at 10X the normal rate, but until that day arrives (and probably for long after), we’ll need to keep buying young trees, planting seeds, and taking cuttings the old-fashioned way, which is actually much simpler and cheaper than any tech solution to anything.
Even a young tree begins to provide a wealth of benefits to both people and wildlife, and by the time a tree is full grown, it can shade an entire yard or feed an entire family many times over, with very little input other than water and perhaps some compost.
They say that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, but since we don’t have an app for time travel yet, we’ll have to focus on planting during the second best time, which is right now. And you don’t have to have a massive lot or backyard in order to plant trees for food, shade, or beauty, as there are many tree varieties that remain small enough to not crowd or shade out everything else, and which can function as either the canopy layer or the sub-canopy in permaculture-style plantings even in a smaller space.
Here are 10 great tree varieties for small yards and gardens:
A number of species of Amalanchier, or serviceberry, are available, with varying heights ranging from shrub-sized to small tree, and with some producing a delicious blueberry-like fruit after the fragrant white flowers are pollinated. Also called saskatoon, juneberry, shadbush, or sugar-plum, serviceberry trees also produce a flash of fall color when their leaves turn, and can thrive in a wide variety of climates.
2. Crape Myrtle:
Sometimes referred to as the “lilac of the South,” crape (or crepe) myrtle (Lagerstroemia) trees are well-suited to full sun locations, are heat tolerant, and produce showy flowers even in poor soil. A variety of sizes of crape myrtle are available, from a compact shrub to a 30-foot tree, with flowers ranging from white to fuchsia, and with an “exfoliating” bark that offers winter contrast.
Although the flowering dogwood (Conus florida) is the most commonly seen kind of dogwood, there are a number of other varieties of dogwoods, ranging from shrub-sized to tree-sized, but most will thrive in moist, shadier locations. With showy flowers in white, pink, or red, dogwoods can add a burst of spring color to the yard, and certain species, such as the Korean dogwood (Cornus kousa) produce an edible fruit, while other species’ fruit is more suited to the wildlife.
Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0
4. Japanese Maple:
Acer palmatum is a fairly common landscape tree, and with good reason, as its small stature and bold colors can be a great accent in a little space. Japanese maple trees come in hundreds of varieties, with a wide range of leaf types, growth habits, and colors, but most of them are best suited for partially shaded locations, and although the flowers are rather modest, the fall leaf color of these trees can more than make up for that. Although the fruit (samara) isn’t edible, according to The Spruce, the Japanese sometimes fry the maple leaves to make candies.
The source of the common astringent named after it, witchhazel (or witch hazel) grows as a small tree or a large shrub bearing fragrant yellow or orange-red fall or winter flowers (which is why it’s also sometimes called winterbloom). With several species commonly available, and many cultivars, witchhazels come in a number of sizes and shapes, and as the Chicago Botanic Gardens says, “the only major drawback to witch hazels lies at their roots—a preference for well-drained, loamy, acidic soil means that they grow less than happily in clay soil.”
Elderberries (Sambucus) are most often seen as shrubs, although varieties that grow more like a small tree are available, and their flowers and berries are good for pollinators and other wildlife, while the fruit is also prized for making jam, wine, pies, and other delicacies. According to Garden.org, elderberries “grow best in a slightly acidic soil that is high in organic matter and stays consistently moist,” but that is well-drained, and are suited to full or part-sun locaions.
Although a full-sized apple tree might overwhelm a small yard, dwarf apple trees can stay at or under 8 feet tall, while still producing a good-sized crop of full-sized fruit. There are literally thousands of varieties of apple trees, many of which are grafted onto dwarf rootstock, which keeps the trees smaller, while upper portion (the scion wood) determines the quality and type of fruit. From sweet early summer apples to late season keeper apples, there are apple varieties for just about any eating preference, and while some dwarf varieties can still grow larger than intended, judicious pruning can keep them in check. Many common fruit trees are available in dwarf sizes that would fit a small yard, such as peaches, apricots, pears, cherries, and more.
There’s nothing quite like a ripe fig, right off the tree, and although figs seem like they’re only for Mediterranean zones, there are fig varieties that can be successfully grown in a number of different climates, and in small spaces. Fig trees can be cultivated in protected areas in some northern climates, and can even thrive in pots or containers, which can then be brought inside or sheltered during the winter, and in contrast with other fruit trees, can benefit from heavy pruning each year to keep them to size.
Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0
The chaste tree, or monk’s pepper (Vitex agnus-castus), is a multi-trunk small tree with clusters of fragrant purple flowers and lacy gray-green leaves. The fruit resembles a peppercorn and is used in alternative medicine, and the flowers are a favorite of butterflies, bees, and people alike. Vitex grows best in full or part-sun locations with well-drained soil, and can aggressively invade nearby soil in the right conditions. According to folklore, the tree was named so because it was believed that it was an anaphrodisiac, with medieval monks having chewed its leaves to help them maintain their vows of celibacy.
Redbud trees, which can actually have white, pink, red, or purple flowers, are a staple showy spring treat in the garden, and although some can grow 20 to 30 feet tall, can be a good addition to a smaller yard or garden, especially with some careful pruning. Redbud seeds are good forage for wildlife, and redbuds are said to be an important source of nectar and pollen for honeybees and other pollinators. This fast-growing tree prefers well-drained soil and full sun to part shade, and because it’s in the pea family, can get some of its nitrogen from the air so that only light fertilization is necessary.
This list of trees for small yards is just a jumping off point for choosing the best varieties for your situation. These are commonly available trees, so if increasing biodiversity is important to you, other varieties that aren’t widely available commercially or that are native to the area but not often seen in yards could be a much better choice. The local climate needs to be taken into consideration, as well as any specific space and height constraints, before getting too far down the rabbit hole of looking at tree catalogs and nursery stock. With hundreds thousands of choices of species and varieties available, there’s a tree or shrub for just about any location, and the best guidance can come from local gardeners, orchardists, and arborists, who have hands-on experience, rather than just buying what looks good on an impulse. One great resource is this post on Backyard Orchard Culture.
This updated article was originally published in 2017.
Trees for Your Garden
From maples to magnolias, find the perfect tree for any spot in your garden
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Finding the right tree for your garden can be a challenge. Whether you are looking to add a bit of shade to your property or to screen a view of a neighboring home, trees are often the solution. Ornamental trees can also be used to create a focal point in your garden. Fruit trees are also beautiful and can be grown in orchard fashion or incorporated into your garden.
When selecting a tree, you may feel a bit like a kid in a candy store. There are small trees that can be grown in pots if you don’t have a lot of room and large trees more suited for a pastoral setting. Furthermore, there are trees with weeping branches and ones that flower profusely; trees that are tall and narrow and ones that are low and wide; trees that are evergreen and ones that put on an impressive autumn show then drop their leaves. You can get a tree with a single, stout trunk or one with multiple slender trunks. And the list doesn’t stop there.
Popular trees amongst home gardeners include dogwoods, maples, cypresses, cherries, magnolias, birches, crape myrtles and many more. Use the resources below to determine what types of trees you are attracted to and how to work them into the design of your own garden.
Popular Tree Articles
Our Guide to ConifersLearn to use versatile conifers to add year-round interest to your garden.Versatility of EspaliersEspaliers can work in any garden type: big and small, formal and informal, grand and modest.The Art of BarkIn terms of design, bark is interesting in winter, but also a bonus of texture & pattern all year.Japanese MaplesFor center of attention drama and vivid fall color, nothing beats Japanese maples. Ginkgo TreesBotanist Peter Crane is a fan of the ancient tree’s history, beauty, and quirks. Return of the American ChestnutThe American chestnut almost disappeared when a foreign blight was introduced in 1904. Purple-Leaf Plum TreeA beautiful ornamental tree that bears pink blossoms and edible fruits. Trees for Fall ColorNothing else signals the seasonal shift as beautifully as these native trees. Every Tree Tells a StoryPhotographs and stories of irreplaceable trees that have shaped communities and cultures.
Best Trees for Your Garden
Available in a wide range of sizes, from as small as three feet in height, to as tall as 20 feet, Japanese maples are known for their striking colors. In November when their fall colors are at their peak, these trees appear to be ablaze in yellow, orange and red. Pictured here is specimen red threadleaf Japanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘dissectum’) at the Steinhardt Garden, where more than 400 cultivars of Japanese maples are grown.
John M. Hall
Reaching a mature height of 15-25 feet, crabapple trees turn a vivid pink in spring when they bud out. Their buds turn to white blossoms, which are equally beautiful. If you are looking to attract birds to your garden, they will love the small apples that ripen in late summer and fall. Pictured is a courtyard at Duck Hill planted with Malus ‘Snowdrift,’ a single-bloom crabapple underplanted with boxwood.
This small ornamental tree, Cornus chinensis var. Kousa (kousa dogwood), is recognized by its early summer display of plentiful white flowers. But in the fall it sports red fruits similar in appearance to raspberries (they are not considered edible). These berries and its purple and scarlet leaves make the kousa dogwood a tree to consider for the autumn garden. It has a beautiful form with horizontal branching, grows in partial shade to full sun, will reach a height of 15 to 25 feet and is hardy in Zones 5 through 8. Get more autumn garden ideas.
These eastern redbud trees (Cercis canadensis) are in full spring bloom. Designer Anna Brooks selected them for her own garden because of their broad seasonal interest, specifically referring to their purplish blossoms and smoky foliage tones in the fall. Suited for zones 5 to 9, redbuds will grow to between 25 and 30 feet tall. See more of Brooks’ garden.
Possibly the most well-known flowering tree, magnolias put on a short, but impressive show in spring. Pictured is Magnolia ‘Elizabeth,’ which has butter-yellow, tulip shaped flowers. Other magnolias have white, pink, red or purple flowers. These trees can grow up to 30 feet tall and are suited for zones 5-9. Learn more about magnolia trees.
If you are lucky enough to live in zones 8 through 11, you can try your hand at growing citrus trees. With their wonderfully fragrant blossoms and edible fruits, what isn’t to love? The most pouplar citrus trees to grow in home gardens are lemons, oranges, and limes, but you could also opt for a tangelo, kumquat or grapefruit. Shown in this image of a garden designed by Scott Shrader is a tangerine tree (Citrus tangerina) that has been trained in the espalier fashion to grow nicely along the wall. See Scott Shrader’s home garden.
My 15-year-old mulberry tree provides wonderful summer shade, but it’s growing up into the power lines, and my neighbor says its roots are damaging his underground sprinkler system. Can I prune the roots to keep them out of his yard? Should I replace the tree?
We recently bought a big Victorian house with a huge cedar tree growing next to a two-room addition at the back. The foundation is poor (sitting on the dirt), and the roots of the tree are lifting it so that the rooms (an office and a laundry) are tilted and have begun to smell of mildew. We’ve been advised to either remove the cedar or tear down the rooms. What a choice!
I like the formality of espaliered apple trees, but I have little room for limbs to fan out. What do you think of the apple variety called colonnade, which is supposed to stay narrow, like a bushy pole with short branches?
Our new house came with a lovely old crab apple tree, but some branches are only 2 to 3 feet off the ground and shade a bed of sun-loving perennials. Is it okay to cut off the low branches? They’re 8 to 10 inches thick.
Get more gardening advice.
A tree for every garden. 10 small trees
Its almost November and the perfect time for planting trees and shrubs. Even those with small gardens can find plenty of choice, in fact theres a tree to fit just about every space imaginable. Of course its important to choose a tree thats going to offer you lots of positive benefits. If you are worried about size and structural problems such as subsidence, you will need to ensure that your tree doesn’t have invasive roots. Select a suitable variety and you need not be concerned about cracking foundations or wobbly patios. You’ll want some sort of seasonal interest, perhaps flowers, fruit or leaf colour. it’s all about choosing the right tree. Heres 10 trees which are suitable for small gardens: Malus: crab apples Malus ‘Butterball’. This crab apple is perfect for a small garden Malus x robusta ‘Red Sentinel’ is a great tree for a small garden. It has different interests throughout the seasons. Consider Malus x robusta Red Sentinel and Butterball. These lovely trees produce brightly-coloured small fruits which persist long into autumn and even winter. The tree itself has an attractive shape and it offers great feeding and nesting opportunities for birds. Typically it grows no more than about 5m tall so it’s just about perfect for small gardens. Choose an RHS AGM (Award of Garden Merit) tree for reliability. Other good varieties include Comtesse de Paris and Pink Glow.
Prunus, ornamental cherries
An upright cherry, Prunus ‘Amanogawa’ doesn’t take up too much space in a small garden. A cherry with a difference! Prunus ‘Kojo-no-mai’ has curious zig zag stems and this tiny tree is highly suitable for a small space, or even a pot. Prunus represent a great choice. There are so many to choose from, but some of the most popular include the upright (fastigiate) Amanogawa which takes up very little room; Prunus Kojo-no-mai which can even be grown in a container and Pink Perfection which spreads outwards but not very far upwards, reaching a height of only about 5m.
Sorbus, mountain ash
Sorbus ‘Joseph Rock’ is a great choice for a small garden. It has yellow berries and great autumn colour. Sorbus have something for all seasons including lovely berries and bright autumn foliage. Joseph Rock is considered to be one of the best with its white spring flowers and yellow berries. There are red berried alternatives too such as Olympic Flame.
Amelanchier, the Juneberry or Snowy Mespilus
Amelanchier ‘Ballerina’ makes a lovely multi-stemmed small tree. It has flowers, fruit and autumn leaf colour. Amelanchier ‘Robin Hill’, grown with a clear stem, makes a great ‘lollipop’-shaped tree. Amelanchier is a lovely small tree that is considered by most to be an outstanding choice for small gardens. There are at least 10 different varieties including Robin Hill and Ballerina. They all have lovely autumn colour, spring flowers and fruit too. They wont generally grow higher than up to 10m.
Acers, the Japanese variety
Acer palmatum dissectum is a great Japanese Acer which is highly suitable for a small garden. Acers come in so many different colours, each having something remarkable to bring to a garden. Japanese Acers have so many positive attributes its difficult to know where to start. Their foliage can be vibrant in the autumn but also beautiful from spring through to leaf drop. There are Acers with brilliant scarlet leaves right through to variegated creamy limes. So many to choose from: Acer Orange Dream has lime-green spring leaves with an orange and salmon-pink rim, turning to yellow during autumn. Garnet has finely dissected leaves which turn brilliant red in autumn. Katsura has yellow/orange foliage which turns a brighter orange before dropping its leaves.
Maples such as Acer griseum
Acer griseum is another lovely small tree which has tremendous value because of its interesting bark. Not all Acers are Japanese. In fact theres a Maple or Sycamore tree suitable for practically every sized garden or space. Some are grown specifically for their bark and this is certainly the case with Acer griseum, the paperbark, which has orange-brown old bark which peels off to reveal fresh, new bark underneath. The leaves turn orange and red in autumn and there are large winged seeds too. Watch a video about Acers here: https://youtu.be/5oNjkRE9lDs
Pyrus salicifolia Pendula
The ornamental pear is easy-to-care-for and this weeping silver-leafed tree is sometimes mistaken for a Salix. It has narrow foliage with silver undersides and the white flowers are popular with garden insects. This tree keeps its shape rather well and rarely grows taller than 4m. Perhaps the perfect tree for small gardens? Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’ is a lovely weeping tree for a small garden.
Cercis canadensis Forest Pansy
The Cercis ‘Forest Pansy’ is a beautiful small tree that has heart-shaped leaves. They have wonderful autumn colour. This little tree is also known as the Eastern Redbud as it has heart-shaped red/purple leaves. These turn a glorious shade of orange in autumn. The large shrub or small tree bears pea-like purple/pink flowers in spring which appear on the bare branches. A true sight to behold.
Cornus kousa has the most wonderful flower bracts. Although officially a shrub, Cornus kousa can be treated as a tree as the form of dogwood will gradually grow up to around 6m. It has the most delightful white flower bracts in white or pink in May and June and also displays excellent autumn colour.
Crataegus prunifolia is not only good for gardens but for wildlife too. Hawthorn makes a wonderful little tree which has shape, colour, form, spring blossom, red fruits and wildlife-attracting properties too. Ideal for a small garden, particularly Crataegus persimilis Prunifolia which has long thorns and masses of white flowers together with great autumn colour. Slightly more compact is Crataegus laevigata, the Midland hawthorn. So many beautiful little trees, plant one in November for many years of pleasure to come. You can also consider small fruit trees too – these patio peach and nectarines are a delight. Watch the video to find out more about them: https://youtu.be/YyMb3TACIJI