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Trees for small gardens

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6 of the Best Trees for Small Gardens

If you have a small garden but have your heart set on planting a tree in it, it’s essential you take time to do your research. Why not start right here with our guide to the best trees for small gardens?

There are many different species of trees you can choose from when it comes to planning your garden, but one thing you must always bear in mind is the ultimate height and spread of your tree of choice, and how long it will take to get there.

It’s crucial to be aware that the taller and wider the tree, the deeper and more widespread its roots. Expansive root systems have a tendency to cause significant damage, including to the foundations of a property. Meanwhile, at the top end, a tall tree with a wide, bushy canopy is likely to block light and views. A lack of light not only has a negative effect on your living conditions, but also affects other plants in the garden, in some cases preventing certain light-loving species from thriving. Very large trees can also rob other nearby plants of vital nutrients, so it’s important to choose wisely.

The good news is that there are ample tree species that are suitable for compact gardens. Trees that do not have a habit of outgrowing their surroundings but will still prove to be the perfect centrepiece to your garden, especially if you position it well and take good care of it. Let’s take a look at six of the best trees for small gardens.

1.     Japanese maple

Acer palmatum, Japanese maple, is a stunningly hued, attractive tree with fine, feathery leaves. There are plenty of small, slow-growing varieties that won’t overcrowd a smaller garden. Japanese maples have a preference for a sheltered spot, out of direct sunlight. They also work well in large pots.

Ultimate height: around 8 metres

Japanese maple trees for small gardens

2.     Crab apple

Malus sylvestris, the crab apple, is one of the UK’s favourite native trees. Offering an abundance of food for wildlife and glorious pinky-white spring blossom, the crab apple is available in a range of varieties including the upright ‘Golden Hornet’ which is a fantastic space saver for the petite garden. If you fancy making yourself some delicious crab apple jelly, go for the John Downie.

Ultimate height: around 10 metres

3.     Magnolia

What an eye-catching sight the magnolia tree is in spring with its tulip-like floral displays. Some varieties are plainly too large for a small garden, but choose carefully and you’ll find the perfect type that suits your space perfectly. Magnolia wilsonii and Magnolia stellata are two examples that will serve the small garden well.

Ultimate height: around 2.5 metres (stellate) to 8 metres (wilsonii)

4.     Ornamental cherry

The ornamental cherry tree really does make the perfect tree for the petite garden. Cherry blossom is a major draw for pollinators and makes for a stunning spring display.

Prunus ‘Kursar’ is a delightful small tree displaying glorious deep pink blossom, created by Captain Collingwood Ingram, affectionately known as ‘Cherry Ingram’ due to his lifelong interest in flowering cherries.

Loves a sunny position and grows to around 5 metres.

Prunus ‘Pink Perfection’ is another incredibly appealing cherry tree sporting amazing double pink flowers suspended in eye-catching drooping clusters. The leaves are also a point of interest, subtle bronze when young before turning green then bright sizzling orange and red come the autumn.

Again prefers a sunny spot and can reach around 5 metres in height.

Check out this excellent resource for more ornamental cherry trees for small gardens.

5.     Hawthorn

Crataegus monogyna, the hawthorn or May tree, is a fantastic choice for a small garden and one of the most wildlife-friendly trees native to the UK. The sweet-scented white or sometimes pale pink blossom appears in May, whilst the prickly stems make this tree a protective haven for birds, who also adore the hawberries that start to emerge in early summer. Hawberries also make delectable jellies, ketchups and wines.

Ultimate height: around 6-8 metres

Hawthorn blossom trees for small gardens

6.     Rowan

Sorbus aucuparia, the rowan, is a very attractive tree with ash-like pinnate leaves. It blossoms in the spring and then produces glorious bright pink or red berries in late summer. Garden birds such as robins, thrushes and blackbirds adore the rowan tree for its berries, and there are some excellent choices for gardens that are short on space.

Sorbus Eastern Promise for example will reach around 8 metres, whilst Sorbus rosea Rosiness is better for the more confined space as this one grows to just 4 metres in height.

Rowan tree for small gardens

Caring for your garden trees

Now you know some of the best trees for small gardens, it’s time to learn more about planting and caring for your trees.

Our guides to the benefits of planting trees and how to plant them and how to care for newly planted and sapling trees should provide you with a good starting point.

It goes without saying that the importance of pruning trees planted in small gardens cannot be over-emphasised. Ensuring that the tree does not outgrow its space and remains healthy and attractive really is so important.

If you could use some help in caring for a tree in your garden, you are welcome to contact our experts for tailored advice. We can help you put a regular pruning and care plan in place to make sure your tree stays looking beautiful and healthy whilst keeping within its boundaries.

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