Trees for Small Gardens

17th Dec 2009

One of the most common questions I get asked is "I only have a small garden, what tree would you suggest?"

Amelanchier lamarckii2

Obviously this leads to other questions, How small is small? Do you want a flowering, berrying, weeping tree? Would you like to attract  wildlife into the garden? In this post I am going to suggest some trees that will do different things for small gardens. In the hope that it will give people some new ideas.

Attracting Birds

Sorbus aucuparia 'cardinal royal'

Sorbus Aucuparia Cardinal Royal is a tree with an elegant upright habit that makes it perfect  for gardens with limited space. In the spring it has small clusters of white flowers, dark green leaves provide dappled shade in the summer. But it is in the autumn that this tree relay comes into its own, producing an abundance of bright red  berries. It is these berries that make this tree so good for birds, attracting them in for a feast on the berries.




Weeping Tree

Salix caprea 'pendula'Weeping trees are always a good option for a small garden and there are many to choose from. Malus Sun Rival (Weeping Crab Apple), Prunus Kiku Shidare Sakura (Weeping Cherry), and Cotoneaster Hybridus Pendulus (Weeping Cotoneaster) are some options but the one I am going to suggest in this article is the Salix Caprea Pendula, Kilmarnock Willow. It has a beautiful umbrella form, doesn't grow bigger than 6ft and best of all has beautiful sliver and gold catkins in late winter/early spring.




Flowering Tree

prunus accoladeThere are quite literally hundreds of flowering trees to choose from and large numbers in the Prunus (Cherry), Malus (Apple) and Cratagus (Hawthorn) families. Prunus Accolade, pink flowering cherry is a small tree so it is suitable for small gardens, it has an abundance of wonderful pink flowers in the spring and glossy green leaves that turn orange-red in the autumn.






Cotoneaster x WatereriThere is not a lot of choice when looking for exciting small evergreen trees, this having been said the semi evergreen cotoneaster family does have a lot to offer. Though not fully evergreen they will hold most of there leaves throughout the winter (dependent on how harsh the the winter is.) Personally I am a fan of Cotoneaster  Cornubia a red berried variety. It has white flowers in spring and an abundance of shiny red berries in winter which also helps to attract birds.




Autumn Colour

cornus kousa chinensisThere are lots of trees that offer amazingly bright and vibrant colours in autumn.  The families of  Acer (Maples), Prunus (Cherry) have some truly amazing trees, but for a small garden I think you have to look far to get better than Cornus Kousa Chinensis. It has beautiful showy white flower bracts in early summer. Then in the autumn the foliage catches fire turning wonderful shades of splendid orange and red.



All Rounder

Amelanchier lamarckii1It is hard to choose one tree that is best for a small garden but I feel the best all rounder is the Amalanchier Lamarckii, Snowy Mespil. This tree can come either as a shrubby multi-stem or clear stemmed tree form and only grows to a maximum height of 15ft enabling it to fit in most gardens. In the spring it is covered with an abundance of amazing bright white flowers (see photo at top of this post)  and in the autumn the leaves turn into a patchwork of green, yellow, orange, red and purple. As if this wasn't enough it also bears small black berries snapped up by the birds almost as soon as they appear.  If I only had room for one small tree in my garden this would be it.




While this is far from a complete list of trees that are suitable for small gardens I hope it will give you some ideas.

Simon Scarth



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