Choosing the Best Small Tree

These beautiful, well-behaved trees won't take over your yard — or your neighbor's.

Fernleaf Full Moon Maple Tree Image courtesy of Monrovia

Full-moon maple. At 10 to 15 feet tall and only two-thirds as wide, this beautiful little tree is perfect for a small space. Most varieties offer gorgeous foliage. Here, fernleaf full-moon maple turns a glorious blend of red and orange foliage. USDA Zones 5 to 7

Pretty Pink Flowers Enliven Landscape

Unless you plant it too close to your house, crape myrtles aren't likely to take over your home. These summer- and early fall-flowering deciduous trees come in various sizes, from 3- to 4-foot shrubs to 25-foot trees. Choose from early-, mid- or late-season varieties.

Walkway With Japanese Maple

Japanese maple (Acer palmatum). Few other trees add as much elegance to the landscape or come in as many sizes and silhouettes, from the shrubby types to the 10- to 15-foot weeping forms to the full-sized species that typically average 15 to 25 feet tall and wide. No matter their size and shape, Japanese maples offer structural qualities, fine texture and outstanding fall color.
Among the non-shrubby types, 'Ozakazuki' (15-20) has bright green leaves that turn crimson in fall; the leaves of 'Oshio Beni' open fiery orange-red, age to reddish-green and turn bright red in fall.
USDA Zones 5-8

Dogwood Tree

Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa). Here's a dogwood that's just as beautiful as the flowering dogwood (C. florida) with far less susceptibility to disease. The flowers (bracts, actually) appear after the leaves emerge. Red fruits persist through fall as the leaves turn reddish-purple. Exfoliating brown, gray and tan bark and its horizontal branching pattern on older trees create some drama in winter. Selected cultivars extend winter hardiness to 20 degrees below zero, add weeping forms or produce exceptionally large flowers or fruit.
20-30 feet high and wide
USDA Zones 5-8

Amur Maple Tree

Amur maple (Acer ginnala). An exquisite little spreading shade tree to loll beneath on a summer's day, the amur maple has a full, broad crown atop a multi-stemmed trunk. One of the first trees to leaf out in the spring, it has lightly fragrant but subtle yellow-white flowers. Winged fruits (called samara) develop in abundance, turning red in mid- to late summer. This choice patio tree produces variable fall color in tones of yellow, orange and red, the best occurring in full-sun locations. Adapts well to almost any soil and is exceptionally cold-hardy. 15-20 feet high, 15-25 feet wide USDA Zones 3-8

Stewartia Tree Bark

Japanese stewartia.. Considering this lovely tree's four-season usefulness, it's a wonder that it's not better known. Magnificently hued bark dresses up the winter garden, white flowers appear in July when few other woody plants are blooming and fall foliage can be a soft reddish-purple, red and orange. Average size: 20-40 feet high and wide; USDA Zones (4)5-7
A cousin, Korean stewartia, is a bit smaller, and its slightly larger flowers bloom for a longer period of time.
Supply stewartias with acid, peaty soil and a little afternoon shade.

Washington hawthorne. White flowers in late spring, a beautiful canopy of dark green leaves that turn red and orange in the fall, and bright red berries that hang on the tree deep into winter — you can't ask for a nicer tree of any size. You can forgive it for having thorns; its prickly nature means that pruning has to be done with gloves.
Mature size is 25 to 30 feet tall and somewhat less wide (20 to 25 feet). USDA Zones (3)4 to 8

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