Best Trees for Small Gardens

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Every garden needs a tree. Trees add color and beauty to your home, screen unappealing sites, minimize soil erosion, and provide shade and shelter for wildlife. Some even reward you with edible fruit and others bring stunning fall color, keeping your property alive and vibrant all season long. Having trees in your property also increases its value.

Many people think they can’t have a tree in their garden just because they don’t have room for a giant oak, but trees come in different sizes and there are some small enough to suit tight spaces.

In the spirit of helping you add some color to your patio and improve the overall appearance of your home, we have highlighted below some of the best trees for small gardens. These are easy to maintain and will fit in small yards and tiny side lots perfectly.

1.     Blue Wonder Spruce

Blue wonder spruce trees are changing the evergreen world with their striking bluish-grey leaves that last year-round. Their exceptional hue stands out in the garden and complements other trees like no other, bringing out an amazing curb appeal that sets your property apart.

And since they only grow 4 to 6 feet tall and about 2 feet wide, they can fit almost anywhere. You can use them as hedgerows or privacy screens, but they will also look remarkably beautiful as accent trees or stand-alone pieces. No matter where they are sited, as long as they are getting enough sunlight and the soils are well-drained, blue wonder spruce trees will live up to their name, delivering unique color unlike any evergreen in your property.

2.     Japanese maple

There are plenty of Japanese maple varieties that can provide a stunning focal point for people with small yards. Depending on the available space, you can go for something that grows as tiny as 8 feet tall and wide or as big as 30 feet.

The leaves are red or green and come fall, they grace your yard with beautiful shades of yellows, purples, and oranges, depending on the variety. In the spring, the tree produces small, red (or purple) flowers that are later replaced by a half-inch long dry-winged fruit.

Plant in a shaded spot, away from direct sunlight. And don’t worry about your soil type; Japanese maples will grow in any soil as long it drains properly.

3.     Peaches

Peach trees will not only spruce up your small garden but also provide you with healthy, tasty fruit for your and your family. The trick is to pick a type that does well in your climate; any tree service in New York should be able to provide insights on what varieties grow best in your area.

Also, remember to choose a variety that suits your space. As with all tree species, peach trees come in different sizes, with dwarf varieties being the most preferred by people with smaller yards. Small peach shrubs will not grow any taller or wider than 6 feet. If you have a little bit of space, however, you could try varieties that grow up to 25 feet tall and wide, especially if you are looking to harvest fruit, as these will yield more fruit than dwarf trees.

Site your trees in well-draining soils and keep them evenly moist. The spot should also receive at least 6 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight; planting peach trees in shade causes them to lose their vigor and resilience, making them vulnerable to pests and diseases.

4.     Magnolias

Magnolias are evergreen and deciduous trees, praised for their stunning pink, white, yellow, red, or purple flowers. With their glossy green foliage, showy blooms, and intoxicating scent, magnolias are some of the best trees for homeowners looking for flowering plants. Their summertime blossoms are thick and creamy and their leaves vary from shiny to waxy.

While they are truly grand trees that can max out to a height of 80 feet and above, there are shorter types like the lily magnolia that are perfect for tiny spaces. Lily magnolia will only grow up to 10 feet tall and its canopy won’t spread any wider than 8 feet, which makes it one of the best trees for small gardens.

Most varieties will thrive in partial shade or full sun with regular watering. Also, most types will prefer well-drained soils but can still grow in poor soils if properly cared for.

5.     Eastern Redbud

Like magnolias, eastern redbuds will set off a memorable display of showy blooms, brightening your space and providing food for pollinator beauties like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. The spectacular show of lavender-pink flowers will begin early in the spring and will keep your patio glammed up for about three weeks before giving rise to a flat, oblong leguminous fruit.

But flowers are not the only ornamental feature redbuds will reward you with; their dark-green leaves turn yellow in mid-summer and this new color lasts till fall.

The trees grow about 20 feet tall, spreading around 15 feet wide, and even so, this doesn’t happen overnight; it can take up to five years for a redbud to reach half its mature height and width. For best results, plant the tree in full sun or partially shaded well-drained soils.

6.     Crabapple Trees

Known for their scented springtime flowers and jewel-like fruit, crabapples would be another beautiful addition to your garden. While most varieties grow up to 25 feet tall, there are dwarf tress, 4 to 10 feet tall that would be perfect for people with extra small spaces. But no matter the size, a crabapple tree will guarantee you long-lasting colorful blooms, abundant fruit, and spectacular fall foliage.

And you don’t have to wait for ages for your crabapples to perform; the trees blossom even when young, with some varieties flowering when they are only two years old. Depending on the type, a crabapple tree will produce white, red, or pale pink flowers.

Choose a location with properly drained soils, where the sun hits at least six hours a day. Shaded crabapples produce fewer blooms and fruit and are more susceptible to pests and diseases.

7.     Hawthorn

If you haven’t added this beauty to your list of trees you want to have in your small garden, that’s too bad because hawthorns have so much to offer your yard. They have an attractive shape, white or pink flowers that are a delight to look at, and the potential to cool your home during summer. Even songbirds love hawthorns and will stop by once in a while during fall or winter to feast on the brightly-colored fruit these trees produce.

Most varieties will grow between 15 and 25 feet tall and have their canopy stretch about 8 feet wide, so they are perfect for urban gardens. And even though they prefer well-draining soils, hawthorn trees will tolerate almost any soil type and PH variations. Just make sure they are getting enough sunlight, preferably 4 to 6 hours of full sun a day.


And now you have it – not one, not two, but seven of the best trees for small gardens that you can use to add cheer to your patio and enhance the overall value of your home. Pick a few that best suit your needs and let’s get that yard slicked up.

About The Author: My name is David William and I am a certified arborist with over 10 years of professional experience with The Local Tree Experts. Tree care is something I have had a passion for since I was a little boy. I enjoy reading and constantly upgrading my knowledge as well as writing about common issues and interesting tree care and maintenance techniques.
Photo by Gibbon FitzGibbon on Unsplash

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