Good Things Come in Small Packages: A Guide to Petite Trees

Almost any yard can handle a small tree. If you're worried that your limited space will also reduce your options, fret not - each tree in this collection may be small but the array is enormous.

Excerpted from Garden Design
  • Paperback Maple Known for Peeling Cinnamon Bark

    Paperbark Maple

    The chief attraction of this deciduous maple is its unusual bark, which is orange or red, peels in papery rolls and keeps interest going year-round. The dark green leaves turn bright red in the fall. The paperbark maple will grow to 30 feet tall and 30 feet wide when planted in full or partial sun, and well-drained or moist soil.

  • Osakazuki is Stunning Japanese Maple for Color

    Japanese Maples

    Japanese maples make lovely ornamentals, especially in small yards. They grow to between 15 and 20 feet tall and wide, and thrive in full or partial sun, and well-drained soil.

    As shown here, the 'Osakazuki' Japanese maple's large leaves are flocked by dainty, red inedible fruits in summer. The 'Osakazuki' makes a good container tree but special care must be taken to protect it from drying out, or being exposed to cold winds.

    For color year-round, the 'Sango-kaku' Japanese maple is a perfect choice. In winter, new shoots start out coral-pink, then deepen to orange, green and yellow, before finally dropping in fall.

    For a grander look, pick the 'Bloodgood' Japanese maple, which sports dark reddish-purple leaves and small purple flowers.

  • Snowberry Bush Erupts With White Flowers in Spring

    Lamarcki Serviceberry

    With bronze-colored oval leaves that turn red in the fall and abundant white star-shaped flowers that emerge in the spring, the deciduous Lamarcki serviceberry (also known as juneberry) provides plenty of seasonal interest. Bird-lovers appreciate that the tree's small red fruits, which follow the flowers, draw birds to it. The Lamarcki serviceberry will grow to 30 feet tall and 40 feet wide when planted in full or partial sun, and well-drained or moist soil.

  • Eastern Redbud is Impressive Landscape Specimen

    Eastern Redbud

    Fall in love with the eastern redbud's vivid heart-shaped leaves that are velvety to the touch. Magenta buds open to pale pink flowers in mid-spring before the characteristic leaves appear. The versatile eastern redbud excels as a tree or shrub, a single specimen or a backdrop for a border, whether grown in full or partial sun and well-drained or moist soil. Expect it to grow to 30 feet tall and 30 feet wide.

  • Judas Tree is Eye Catching Landscape Favorite

    Judas Tree

    The Judas tree is an eye-catching, bushy tree, with bright spring flowers and long summertime pods, both an attractive purple. Its heart-shaped leaves are bronze when young, turning yellow in the fall. Although hardy, it originates from the Mediterranean, so it can't be planted in very cold sites. Help your Judas tree to its maximum 30 feet tall and 30 feet wide by planting it in full or partial sun, and well-drained or moist soil.

  • China Girl Excellent for Small Garden or Woodland


    Deciduous dogwoods are quite varied in their look. This Kousa 'China Girl,' shown here, has tiny green flower heads surrounded by large creamy-white bracts that age to pink, red fruits that develop in late summer and rich, purple-red leaves in the fall. By comparison, the elegant giant dogwood has star-shaped white flowers in mid-summer, and inedible blue-black fruit just after that.

    Dogwoods grow to 25 feet tall and 15 to 25 feet wide in ideal conditions: full or partial sun and well-drained or moist soil.

  • Corkscrew Hazel Tree Interesting Landscape Plant

    Contorted European Filbert

    The contorted European filbert is a slow-growing deciduous tree or shrub well-suited to small spaces: it only reaches 15 feet in height and width. Its stand-out features is its unusual twisted shoots, best seen in winter as long yellow catkins appear; the stems can be cut for striking indoor displays. Place the contorted European filbert where it will receive full or partial sun, and well-drained or moist soil.

  • Hawthorn Tree has 3 Distinct Seasons of Appeal


    Lovely deciduous options, hawthorn species can look so distinct, you might not even know they're related. C. orientalis, pictured here, is the rare thornless hawthorn. Attractive and compact, it features dark green leaves, white flowers and yellow-tinged red fruit.

    C. persimilis, on the other hand, has rich brown bark, long thorns and leaves that turn orange and red in the fall. It produces dense heads of white flowers in early summer followed by clusters of long-lasting, bright red berries.

    Hawthorns grow to 20 to 25 feet tall and 20 to 30 feet wide in full or partial sun, and well-drained or moist soil.

  • Goldcrest Monterey Cypress Useful as Privacy Hedge

    Monterey Cypress

    The Monterey cypress is a coastal tree in the wild. It will tolerate dry growing conditions - preferably, full sun and well-drained soil - which makes it useful as a hedge or windbreak in exposed sites. The Monterey cypress will grow to 16 feet tall and 8 feet wide.

  • Soft Tree Fern Brings Drama Into the Garden

    Soft Tree Fern

    The soft tree fern brings drama each spring, when its pale green fronds unfurl from the top of a fibrous root trunk. This plant is evergreen in mild climates, tolerating growing conditions from partial sun to full shade and well-drained to moist soil. But if you're planting it in an area with cold winters, protect the crown by covering it with straw. At full maturity, the soft tree fern can reach 20 feet tall and 12 feet wide.

  • Brown Turkey Fig is Popular Winter Hardy Variety

    Brown Turkey Fig

    A popular variety of fig, 'Brown Turkey' has large leaves and fruits that tell you they're edible when they've matured from green to brown. Plant the brown turkey fig in full sun, with well-drained or moist soil, and watch it grow to 10 feet tall and 12 feet wide; in cold areas plant it in a pot and move under cover in winter.

  • Golden Rain Tree Known for Showy Chains of Flowers

    Goldenchain Tree

    This elegant, deciduous tree has glossy green oval leaves, and bears magnificent long golden chains of pea-like flowers in late spring. It makes an impressive focal point in a small yard, where it can reach to 25 feet tall and 25 feet wide, but can also be trained over a pergola. Parents of children and pet owners be aware: the leaves and seeds of are poisonous. The goldenchain tree prefers full sun and well-drained soil.

  • Weeping Larch has Elegant Drooping Branches

    Weeping Japanese Larch

    Weeping Japanese larch, a compact deciduous conifer perfect for small yards, has fine green leaves that turn bright yellow in the fall. While the weeping Japanese larch can grow to 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide, it must be trained; the height of the stake will determine how tall the tree is. Plant the larch in full sun and well-drained soil.

  • Bay Laurel Makes Great Addition to Kitchen Garden

    Bay Laurel

    Bay leaves, the popular cooking spice, are dried leaves from the bay laurel. But the leaves are pretty while still alive too, accompanied by greenish-yellow flowers in spring and black berries in the fall. The bay laurel can be grown in a pot, or trimmed into topiary. Bay laurels can reach up to 30 feet tall and 25 feet wide when grown in ideal growing conditions: full to partial sun, and well-drained to moist soil.

  • Crabapple Tree Valued for Blooms in Spring


    Bring a rainbow of color to any small yard with a crabapple tree. For a dainty look, pick 'Evereste' and its abundance of white flowers that open from pink buds in late spring. For more drama, go with 'Royalty,' whose glossy leaves, bright flowers and inedible fruits live up to their name in deep, regal purples and reds.

    Crabapple trees grow to 25 feet tall and 25 feet wide and prefer full or partial sun, and well-drained or moist soil.

  • Japanese Cherry Excellent Choice for Small Gardens

    Ornamental Cherry Trees

    Deciduous and delicate, there are so many beautiful ornamental cherry trees, one is sure to meet your needs.

    If you like to get tickled pink, consider the flowering cherry, shown here, or the pink winter cherry, which develops clusters of tiny, double, pale pink flowers earlier than other species.

    If you prefer white flowers, consider the fragrant 'Mount Fuji' or the unusual paperbark cherry, a dramatic choice whose glossy reddish-browk bark is marked by pale lines.

    Many cherry trees grow up to 30 feet tall and 30 feet wide although smaller varieties are available. They prefer full sun and well-drained or moist soil.

  • Ornamental Weeping Pear Known for Graceful Habit

    Willowleaf Pear

    This delightful ornamental pear tree has elegant \"weeping\" branches and silvery-gray, willow-like leaves. Abundant creamy-white flowers appear in spring, followed by small, hard, inedible pears in late summer. The willowleaf pear grows to 15 feet tall and 12 feet wide when planted in full sun and well-drained soil.

  • Japanese Rowan is Excellent City Garden Ornamental

    Japanese Rowan

    Japanese rowans are excellent ornamental trees for city gardens because their beautiful featues - large white flowers in spring and elegant foliage which turns yellow, red, and purple in the fall - tolerate pollution very well. Grow in full or partial sun, and well-drained to moist soil to help Japanese rowan reach its full potential of 30 feet tall and 22 feet wide.

  • Chinese Stewartia Prized for Peeling Winter Bark

    Chinese Stewartia

    A good choice for fall foliage color, this small deciduous tree is also prized for its unusual peeling red-brown bark and showy, fragrant white flowers that appear in midsummer. It prefers acid soil that is well-drained or moist, and full or partial sun. Chinese stewartia grows to 20 feet tall and 10 feet wide.

  • Irish Yew Commonly Used for Hedging or Screen

    Irish Yew

    Irish yew is a narrow, upright tree, growing to 30 feet tall and 6 feet wide. It works well as a focal point or accent plant in a border. Small red berries appear in summer, but beware: all parts of Irish yew are poisonous. Flexible in its ideal growing conditions, Irish yew can thrive in full sun or full shade, and moist or wet soil.

Excerpted from Garden Design

©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

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