Small gardens are small in space in either horizontal or vertical directions. You may be limited in the area for several reasons. If your apartment or home garden is small, you will want to find narrow trees. In some situations, with overhangs, you will also want to choose a tree that is short in stature. Moreover, you may want to keep a small garden for less upkeep.
No matter the reason for your small garden, we have a list of trees for you. You will want to choose trees that are easy to maintain and do not interfere with the growth of your other plant life. This may mean small canopies or short roots.
To complete your garden, add annuals, perennials, and shrubs. Choosing small plant life does not necessarily mean short. There are many tall, narrow plants and climbing plants. When first planning your small space, many gardeners imagine small shrubs, flowers, and other plants. However, many tree species can add an extra dimension to your garden.
Petite and dwarf trees carry all the same characteristics as their larger cousins. Altogether, your space may be limited, but your species options are not.
Top 5 Trees for Small Gardens
- Dogwood Tree
- Redbud Tree
- Japanese Maple Tree
- Crabapple Tree
The dogwood tree is one of the most popular choices amongst all gardeners, especially those limited on space. It is a wonderful choice for any yard or garden. In the early days of spring, white or pink blossoms spring forth from the dogwood tree announcing that spring is here. As the season passes, dark green leaves adorn the branches of this tree. Additionally, the dogwood tree produces bright red berries that last through the summer and autumn.
You will have many options with the dogwood tree. They vary in color and shape but grow to the same size. Some existing hybrids are more disease and weather resistant than the parent variants.
Altogether, the dogwood tree grows to a height between 15 and 20 feet. The species is versatile across climates and soil types. Gardeners plant them in Florida as well as Vermont. You will find them thriving in Virginia and Texas. Some variants even succeed in California and the Pacific Northwest.
The short stature of this tree makes it an excellent choice for your small garden. Moreover, the dogwood tree accepts trimming well to keep its shape in tight areas. You can trim it to the precise shape you need for other plants to grow and thrive in your garden.
Smoketrees are a unique and beautiful addition to any small garden. Highly sought after for its unusual color, the smoketree is a dusty pink through the summer months. At the peak of the growing seasons, the smoketree will produce yellow-pink flowers with color-changing petals as the season goes on. Without these flowers, the smoke tree displays bluish-green leaves.
Overall, the smoketree grows to a height of 15 feet. It will complete your garden quickly because it grows between one and two feet per year. If you plan to add this tree to your garden, you must ensure ample sunlight for it to thrive. Moreover, the canopy will spread to a full width of 12 feet.
Gardeners love the smoketree because of the unique colors it brings to a green garden. It also adapts well to many soil types. While the smoketree does not tolerate freezing well, it can tolerate heat without much issue.
The smoketree goes by many names around the world including smokebush and cloud tree. No matter what you choose to call it, the smoketree will give your garden a pop of color through the summer and autumn months. The berries and flowers produced by this tree are small and should not cause issues with any other plants growing nearby. Moreover, the small canopy will ensure sunlight reaches the ground plants.
3. Redbud Tree
Another tree that will surely add a bit of color to your garden is the redbud tree. This small tree produces pink flowers in the early days of spring when other trees are just gaining their leaves. As the season continues, light red heart-shaped leaves grow. The leaves are small and will not cause any harm to undergrowth as they fall.
The redbud tree grows larger than the other two trees on our list. In fact, the redbud tree can reach heights of 30 feet with 35-foot spreads. However, it is classified as a small tree. Overall, the redbud trees tolerate many climates and thrive in dry, windy areas.
Unlike many tree species, the redbud tree produces flowers well before it reaches maturity. You may find blossoms growing in the fourth growing season. With blossoms appearing so early in life and so early in spring, the redbud tree is a heavy supporter of nectar-seeking insects and songbirds. It provides the first fresh growth for the year.
The redbud tree will make a beautiful addition to your garden, but it does need more space than the other trees on this list. Some variants of this species grow to smaller sizes. You can easily find variants that only reach 15 to 20 feet in height.
4. Japanese Maple Tree
Japanese maple trees exhibit the red leaves of an autumn maple and carry them through the summer months. Altogether, these trees are temperamental and picky about the climate it lives in. Too much heat and you will scorch the leaves from the tree. Too much frost and the tree will die from the winter temperatures.
The species has variants ranging in size from 2 to 30 feet with an even grander variety of shapes. There are variants with rounded, upright, weeping, and dwarf shapes. Not all Japanese maple trees stay red throughout the growing season. Some change colors from spring to summer to autumn. In fact, you can find variants that display reds, greens, oranges, whites, pinks, and even purple.
The Japanese maple is easy to prune and shapes well to the needs of your garden. It is worth noting that the Japanese maple prefers significant amounts of shade. Therefore, you can plant it as a standalone tree, but some form of shade must be provided. Without the shade, you can scorch the tree. Japanese maples naturally grow in the understory of the forest and prefer the dark and shady region. Finally, you must protect the Japanese maple from flooding. Thankfully, mulch is a gardener's best friend and will help protect your tree.
5. Crabapple Tree
Crabapple trees are incredibly common in the United States when a small tree is needed. These trees tolerate the cold weather quite well. Many mammals enjoy snacking on the crabapples in summer and autumn. However, your garden will be covered in these fruits without squirrels and deer consuming them.
Crabapple trees are related to the apple tree, but the fruits are tougher and less attractive. However, you can cook with crabapples or consume the raw if you desire. The blossoms of the crabapple tree bloom in the springtime and give ample sustenance for bumblebees and other nectar-seeking insects. Moreover, the blossoms of the crabapple hang around much longer than most tree blossoms. In fact, you can find the crabapple blossoms still present for at least a month.
Like the redbud tree, leaves and blossoms appear early on the crabapple tree. The tallest crabapple trees grow to a height of 15 feet. The spread of the canopy will only reach 10 feet.
As you approach late summer, the crabapples will ripen and fall from the stems and cover your garden. Overall, crabapple trees need ample sunlight to thrive but can adjust to most climates. That being said, the crabapple is an excellent choice for your small garden because of its beautiful colors and compact size.