Every garden should have a tree.
They can bring you privacy and shade, as well as lovely variance in height and structure. Many also bring stunning autumn colour or pretty spring blossom, and some will even reward you with a crop of edible fruit. Trees are also vital for wildlife such as nesting birds and bees, so getting one in your garden is really a no-brainer.
Many people think that their garden is too small for a tree, but actually there are so many small and dwarf varieties of tree, and many that can even be grown in containers.
So, whether you just have a little slice of balcony to play with, or a tiny urban garden, there’s always room for a tree.
If you are buying a tree for a small garden, it’s important you know when buying what the ultimate height and spread of your tree will be, as many trees can soon grow too big and begin to cast too much shade and dry out soil. Here are ten fabulous tiny trees that are perfect for small gardens. Most of these trees won’t grow more than eight metres tall and will take a long time to get that big.
Top Ten Trees for Small Gardens
Japanese maples are the perfect choice for smaller gardens as they’re very slow growing and can tolerate shade as well. They come in a huge range of colours, and the leaves often change through the seasons, ending with a vibrant autumn display. Acer palmatum ‘Dissectum’ is an excellent low-growing variety with purplish red spring flowers, and wonderful autumn colour. These trees are the perfect accompaniment to a Japanese garden and can be grown in pots too.
Amelanchier trees are a beautiful addition to any small garden and are most often grown for their showy white flowers in spring. You also get autumn interest in the form of red turned purple berries that the birds love. The leaves are tinged with bronze and turn a vibrant red as they fade. Try the classic Amelanchier Lamarckii (Juneberry) in a sunny or partially shaded spot.
Hawthorn is a native British tree that illuminates hedgerows with its white blossom in spring. Some varieties, such as Crataegus Persimilis ‘Prunifolia’ are perfect for small spaces and will bring glossy green leaves and masses of white blossom, turning a dramatic red in autumn. It likes a sunny location and is happy in most soil types.
Rowan or mountain ash trees are always popular trees for small gardens. Sorbus ‘Joseph Rock’ is an eye-catching variety with small divided leaves which change to orange red and purple in autumn. The tree bears white flowers in spring and bright, butter-yellow berries in autumn. It does well in moderately fertile soil that is acid or neutral and prefers a sunny or partially shaded area.
You don’t need a huge garden to grow apples! There are loads of small and dwarf varieties of apple tree that are perfect for smaller gardens and can also be grown in containers. They’re so wonderful because of their lovely spring blossom, summer leaves and edible fruits for you to harvest in autumn. It’s important to check the rootstock with apple trees to find out the ultimate size. Malus Domestica ‘Discovery’ is a good choice for a sunny spot that has a compact growing habit.
Magnolia trees are well-known for their stunning goblet shaped flowers in spring time, and there are many varieties that are suitable for small gardens. Magnolia ‘Caerhays Surprise’ is a slow-growing small tree that produces bright pink waterlily shaped flowers from mid to late spring. It likes full sun or partial shade and should be sheltered from cold winds.
The corkscrew hazel is a lovely unique looking tree that makes a striking addition to any small garden, especially over winter when the bare corkscrew branches are on display. These branches are also popular for cutting and displaying indoors. Corkscrew hazels bear long yellow catkins in spring and early summer, and they grow well in chalky soils in a sun or dappled shade.
The cherry tree is famed for its beautiful spring blossom, and compact varieties make great trees for small gardens. Try prunus ‘Shogetsu’ for orange-red foliage in winter and pretty white flowers in spring. It needs a sunny spot and moderately fertile soil. Or try Prunus ‘Amanogawa’ if your space is narrow, as this variety has a columular or upright growing habit.
Silver birch are often good choices for small gardens. They are famed for their stunning bark which looks great throughout winter. Silver birch trees can have a single trunk or be multi-stemmed. Try the weeping Betula pendula ‘Youngii’ which has arching stems of ovate leaves that fade to yellow in autumn.
Ornamental pear trees are grown, as the name suggests, for their wonderful spring blossom and unique silvery-green foliage in summer. The Pyrus Salicifolia ‘Pendula’ is a petite weeping variety with soft downy leaves bringing a lovely soft canopy. In autumn, the small fruits will prove popular with birds and wildlife.