9 Trees for Small Yards

Camellia japonica

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Trees come in all sizes, from towering oaks to small fruit trees that you can grow on your patio fruit trees that you can grow on your patio. And if you are looking for something justttt just for a small yard, the choices can seem endless. To choose the perfect species for your garden, start by measuring exactly how much space you have.

“A good rule of thumb is to plant a tree away from the house at a distance of half the maximum height of the tree,” says Kate Karam, a landscape architect in Monrovia. “For a 20 foot tree [at maturity], plant at least 10 feet from the house. Tree roots can grow beyond a tree’s canopy, so a little wiggle room is a great idea. “

When selecting a tree for a small space, consider ornamental trees, which often grow more slowly, as well as trees of dwarf varieties, advises Missy Henriksen, spokesperson for the National Association of Landscape Professionals.

Different species can meet different needs – shade, privacy, color – depending on the shape of the tree and its canopy, not to mention potential maintenance. Pretty fall foliage can also mean more raking in your future! These nine species – including crowd-pleasing species like dogwood, crepe myrtle, and cheekbones – selected by landscaping professionals offer the best of the best in beauty, size, shade, privacy and rusticity. Find out if they will grow in your garden by viewing the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map here.

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Crabapple Prairifire

Zones 4 to 8


This deciduous tree develops deep pink flowers in the spring and small purplish fruits in the fall and winter for a show all year round. “It’s a great choice for feeding and sheltering wild animals, which love fruits that soften when they freeze and thaw,” says Karam. “Grow as a single specimen in the front yard for curb appeal, or use a pair to flank a door.” Plant in a spot in full sun with room for the tree to grow 20 feet tall and wide.


Camellia Japonica

Zones 7 to 9


“My all-time favorite tree for a compact yard is the camellia, an evergreen tree that has beautiful, bright, double-blooming flowers, brings color to your landscape all year round,” says Gary McCoy, manager of store at Lowe’s in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“They require little maintenance and are easy to trim.” These white, pink, or red flowered beauties usually grow up to 12 feet tall and 10 feet wide.


Royal Star Magnolia

Zones 4 to 9


Maxing to 15 feet tall and wide, this variety tolerates cold and heat better than your average magnolia, says Karam. The flowers – bright white, fragrant, and huge – bloom before the foliage emerges in the spring, but expect a leafy green background afterward. Magnificent!

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Japanese ribbon-leaf maple

Zones 5 to 9


“One of the best trees for a small space has to be Japanese maple,” says Karam. “The striking foliage, the graceful shape, the architecture of the branches in winter. It’s a killer!” This particular variety features textured leaves that start red in the spring, turn bronze in the summer, then turn bright orange in the fall. Full to partial sunspots in cooler climates and dappled or afternoon shade in extremely hot areas work best. Expect to see this showstopper grow up 12 feet tall and wide.


Shine Autumn Serviceberry

Zones 4 to 9


“A popular choice in the South and Midwest, the Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry ripens to 25 feet tall“Says Henriksen.” White flowers, coppery red leaves, purplish fruits and light gray bark make this the perfect accent plant or privacy screen for small gardens. According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, the fruit tastes similar to blueberries and you can use it in jams, jellies and pies!


Zuni’s pancake myrtle

Zones 6 to 10


“Zuni is the perfect little tree for city gardens,” says Karam. “Use as an accent or to cover up unappealing views.” The pink flowers bloom in late summer, but you can admire the multi-colored bark and greenery during the growing months. A single trunk can reach 12 feet tall and wide in broad daylight, and you can plant more together for a bigger canopy.

RELATED: The 10 best indoor trees for a happier home


Black Diamond Myrte Crepe

Zones 7 to 10


McCoy also recommends this dwarf crepe myrtle grape for its vibrant bloom and classic, smooth bark. The intense black foliage makes the flowers even more vibrant. Each shrub can reach 12 feet tall and 8 feet wide with enough space and light – full sun is best.


Dogwood Venus®

Zones 5 to 9


Dogwoods produce large flower-like bracts each spring and red foliage and berries in the fall. “This particular cultivar is a vigorous selection from Rutgers University with remarkable winter hardiness, good drought tolerance and excellent disease resistance,” says Karam. This deciduous tree prefers partial sun to full sun and can reach 20 feet tall and wide.

RELATED: How to grow fresh figs right in your garden

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