The Best Trees for Smaller Gardens
If you have a small garden but want a tree, it is essential to choose one that you are confident will not grow too tall or too wide or create more shade than you really want.
It is worth spending a bit of time staring at the garden at various times of the day to be confident about the best planting position and how the tree will impact on the space as a whole and your existing plants.
A tree can give so much height and interest to a garden and of course they have the added bonus of attracting birds and bees and other pollinating insects.
Malus x zumi
The usual recommendations for a small garden tend to include an ornamental crab apple such Malus x zumi ‘Golden Hornet’, it is very pretty with pink blossom in the spring, golden fruit and good autumn colour. It is described as growing around 6m (20ft) tall but this is not a sure thing and I have seen them grow considerably taller and require quite heavy pruning.
Another really compact crab apple is Malus-sargentii Sargent Crab apple which has white foamy blossom and scarlet fruit.
Image source: www.cobblestonefarms.biz
Then there is the Snowy mespilus Amelanchier lamarckii which is a lovely compact tree or tall shrub with white blossom in spring, bronze and red leaves in autumn and purple berries which the birds, particularly blackbirds love.
The ‘Slender Silhouette’ tree Liquidambar styraciflua does have a very slender silhouette it is a really narrow tree and has warm autumn colour and can grow to about 18 metres (60 ft) in 10 years but will not get much wider than 2 metres (6ft).
Image source: www.gobotany.newenglandwild.orghttp
A truly beautiful tree is the Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ Tree which grows to about 5 metres (16 ft.) and has quite a wide spread. It has pink flowers followed by lovely heart-shaped leaves that go from green to flaming red, yellow orange and purple and look stunning in sunlight.
Some varieties of hawthorn make great small trees, the Crataegus laevigata, has a compact growing habit, lovely white blossom in spring and red berries in the summer.
If a tree just too big, a shrub like the Viburnum Opulus ‘Roseum’ snowball tree grows to around 4 metres (13 ft.) can be a good substitute or a Choisya ternate which is tough and can be pruned underneath to create what is essentially a small tree.
If none of these seem appropriate there are lots of wonderful trees that can be grown in pots, such as dwarf fruit, holly, fig and olive. Of course they require watering and feeding and fussing over but they won’t get too big for their boots or for your garden.