Every garden should have a tree. Read on to find out my top trees for small gardens.
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.
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.
Acer palmatum (Japanese maple)
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.
Corylus avellana (Corkscrew hazel)
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. Bearing long yellow catkins in spring and early summer, corkscrew hazels grow well in chalky soils in sun or dappled shade.
Prunus serrulata (Ornamental cherry)
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.
Betula pendula (Silver birch)
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.
Pyrus calleryana (Ornamental pear)
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.
David Domoney is a Chartered Horticulturalist, Broadcaster, and Author. David has worked with a number of the UK’s leading garden retailers as a plant buyer and strategic consultant. With more than 30 years experience, in horticulture, David is as passionate about plants now as he was when he bought his first plant at a village fete.
What a coincidence! Just planted a Stellata today! Already have an Amelanchier.
Good selection.thanks.have a few myself but have room for more
Printed all this info ready for my new garden . Thank you.
Is there any trees you should not plant if you want to keep chickens ? Are all trees compatable to be planted next to each other. I am introducing a very big wildlife pond .is there a tree I can plant nearby that will compliment it and whose roots will not damage the liner? I am definitely including pond plants , Gunnera etc but would like a tree nearby to position a lovely seat to sit in the shade nearby overlooking the wildlife pond. Planning ahead for when our newbuild house is ready for the garden I dream of to be reality .
I absolutely love my Amelanchier tree. It is a beautiful small tree that provides called shade that is easy to plant under. Dappled shade is always welcome in Atlanta where the summed are very hot.
Japanese maples are gorgeous and so low maintenance. This blog post is a great reminder that just because you might have a small garden it doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of it with these lovely trees. Thanks for sharing!
I have just purchased a Malus Rudolph tree but friends have told me that it will cause problems with suckers …is this correct?
Hi Mary, thanks for your question. The Malus Rudolph tree has been known to have a problem with suckers. The trick is to catch them early, using non chemical methods if possible. Make sure to always remove them as close to the root as possible to prevent them spreading. I hope this answers your question!
Love love love ornamental cherry trees – they can easily make a garden look so enchanting. Really useful tips especially for gardeners who want to get the most out of their space. These suggestions are great! Thanks for sharing. :)
Lovely blog! So great that you show that having a small garden doesn’t mean you can’t have a tree. In fact, the right tree can make a small garden look bigger by using vertical space. Japanese Maples are so gorgeous.
Thanks so much for this information! You have enriched my imagination and my garden plans.
Thank you for this info we have a small piece of land next to our private road which is a private block paved road. If we were to plant an Prunus Aerrulata (ornamental Cherry) how do the roots grow and spread? as we don’t want them to lift the block paving.
Cherry tree roots are known to grow rather close to the soil’s surface so they may be an issue for nearby road surfaces. You might find Malus (crab apple) trees are better suited in this site.
I have a large Roman and bought my daughter a amelanchier ‘ballerina’. Just bought a Judas tree to replace an Indian bean tree that didn’t do well.
Love your recommendations for small trees
ROWAN. Fingers not working lol
What small trees can I grow in my garden, preferably in big pots, that are not toxic to my two dogs?