Trees for Small Gardens

Just because your garden is small, don’t think you can’t have trees. Here’s a selection of slow growing or naturally small trees for you to consider.


This small tree is grown for its foliage and small flowers. The varieties range from tender to frost hardy and they need full sun and a well-drained soil.

Acer Palmatum

Also known as Japanese Maples, these lovely trees have lovely dissected leaves and come in a variety of colors from deep red to green. It is hardy in temperate climates and grows on most fertile soils but prefers one that is slightly acid. If you want to know more, see Japanese Maples for a list of specialist pages.


Cordyline tree

This is a slow-growing tree from Australia with a palm-like appearance. It is half-hardy to tender but I have grown it in a sheltered spot in a garden in Southern England and it has survived several winters without additional protection. It likes fertile, well-drained soil.


Commonly called dogwoods, they are grown for their foliage, flowers, or colored stems in winter depending on the variety. They range from hardy to half hardy and should be planted in sun or semi-shade in fertile, well-drained soil


This fast-growing Australian tree can qualify for a small garden because the tree can be cut hardback in spring. Not only does this restrict its height, it also keeps the young foliage which is more attractive than that on an older tree. The varieties vary from hardy to frost to tender so check before buying. They need full sun and shelter from strong winds as well as a well-drained fertile soil


The Latin name is Ilex and the most common holly is Ilex Aquifolium. They vary in height so you must take care in choosing a variety suitable for your garden. They can be clipped back and used for hedging. If you want berries you must buy a male and female holly as berries are only found on the female. Hollies are hardy and prefer well-drained soil and will grow in sun or shade. Don’t try to transplant it because it will surely die!


This small tree has lovely pendulous flowers in spring and early summer but the seeds are very poisonous so they should not be grown if you have young children who may eat them. It is hardy and grows best in full sun in any kind of soil as long as it isn’t boggy.


This is another tree where mature heights vary with different types so check before buying. They are grown for their dramatic flowers which are often scented. Although they are hardy, flower buds can be damaged by late frosts. They should be grown in the sun or semi-shade with shelter from the wind. All types like fertile, well-drained soil but some only do well on alkaline chalky soil whilst others need acidic soil so check before buying.


Better known as the crab apple, this decorative tree also gives fruits that can be used in preserves. They are especially good for adding to jams and jellies using fruit like blackberries that are low in pectin. They are hardy and do their best in full sun. They are not fussy about soil but don’t like boggy ground.


This genus of trees and shrubs is better known as the cherry and the ornamental types are grown for their wonderful flowers that can engulf the whole tree. The flowers vary in color and the trees in height depending on the variety so choose carefully. They can be grown in any soil as long as it isn’t waterlogged.


You probably know Sorbus Aucuparia as the rowan or mountain ash, planted in times past in the UK to ward off evil spirits or the evil eye. These pretty trees are grown for their foliage, flowers, and fruits. They are hardy and can be grown in sun or semi-shade in fertile, well-drained soil.

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