Partner Post: 10 Great Trees for a Small Yard

April 28, 2016

MKTG-16-503_Partner_post_small_tree_graphic-01.jpgSmall trees can pack a big punch in your landscape. And with so many varieties available, it may seem impossible to choose just one or two; but with this list, you’ll certainly have fun trying.

The Davey Tree Expert Company recommends these 10 trees for small landscapes. They are slow growers, and reach a maximum of 30 feet in height and width.

Flowering Dogwood (Zones 5 to 8)

Dogwood come in many shapes and sizes, so consider adding a compact variety to your backyard. As the state tree of Virginia, the flowering dogwood produces white or yellow bracts and has a red winter stem that gives it a four-season appeal. Be sure to choose a cultivar that is resistant to dogwood anthracnose, a potentially serious disease.

Size: 25 to 30 feet tall and wide, depending on variety.

Why we love it: In addition to those glowing leaves, this tree attracts birds with its bright red fruit.

Kousa Dogwood (Zones 5 to 8)

Another tree that offers a terrific spring show blooming with delicate pink or white flowers. Yet this species keeps performing once spring ends. It bears fruit in late summer and reddish-purple autumn foliage.

Size: 10 to 25 feet tall and wide, depending on variety.

Why we love it: A disease-resistant alternative to its cousin, the flowering dogwood.

Crabapple (Zones 3 to 8)

Red buds erupt into flowers in shades of white, pink and red in spring. Come autumn, orange-yellow fruits dangle among colorful leaves. The apples are inedible to humans, but will serve wildlife well. Different varieties offer weeping, rounded or columnar habits. Be sure to select a cultivar listed as disease resistant.

Size: From 6 to 30 feet tall and wide, depending on variety.

Why we love it: This tree works hard year -round to provide four-season interest.

Redbud (Zones 5 to 9)

Valued for its spring display of pink or white flowers, redbud is a small, easy-to-grow tree with delightful heart-shape leaves that turn golden-yellow in the fall. It thrives in sun or partial shade and is a moderate to rapid-grower.

Size: 30 feet tall and wide.

Why we love it: Provides a splendid show in spring when the tree is covered in pink flowers.

Fringe Tree (Zones 4 to 8)

Lacey clusters of fragrant white flowers bloom in late spring. Come fall, flowers become clusters of blue-purple fruits that attract birds. Watch for emerald ash borer.

Size: 12 to 20 feet tall and wide.

Why we love it: Native to areas of Eastern North America.

Saucer Magnolia (Zones 5 to 9)

Known for its beautiful flowers, large magnolia blooms appear in shades of white, pink and purple in spring. Magnolias are magnificent flowering plants but can be tricky to grow, so be sure to plant in full sun and allow room to grow. Be sure to keep a close eye out for magnolia scale, which can be a serious pest.

Size: 20 feet tall and wide.

Why we love it: A striking tree in summer and winter, branches gracefully sweep the ground as the tree grows.

Southern Hawthorn (Zones 4 to 7)

A slow growing, dense and thorny tree makes it a good choice for hedges. White summer blooms are followed by large, orange fruits. Rich, dark green leaves take on a bronze hue in the fall before dropping. Be sure to look for disease resistant cultivars.

Size: 25 feet tall and 30 feet wide.

Why we love it: Attracts pollinators to its spring blooms and birds love its late summer fruits.

Blackhaw Viburnum (Zones 3 to 9)

A hardy, small tree with a form and habit similar to hawthorns, the Blackhaw produces clusters of small, cream colored flowers during spring and fruit in the fall. Bonus: Fruits are edible for both wildlife and humans.

Size: About 15 feet tall and wide.

Why we love it: A small, native tree with interesting habit that is very shade tolerant.

American Hophornbeam (Zones 3 to 9)

True to its name, the hophornbeam produces fruit in clusters that look like hops. Its bark is finely furrowed providing interesting texture year ‘round. Plus, this medium sized, hardy, native tree works well in the shade. Plant small trees because larger ones may be more difficult to establish.

Size: 25 to 35 feet tall, not quite as wide.

Why we love it: This small tree is not only tough, but attractive.

Japanese Tree Lilac (Zones 3 to 7)

Large, fragrant lilac shaped leaves grace this small tree. After the flowers fade, the tree drops seeds that attract birds. The tree maintains a lovely shape without extensive pruning and looks great in borders or as specimens.

Size: 25 feet high and not quite as wide.

Why we love it: Showy blooms last long into summer, after many other trees have stopped flowering.

There are other excellent native and non-native ornamental trees and shrubs that will perform well in your landscape. Your local arborist can help you select the right tree for the right spot.

For more information or to schedule a free consultation, contact the tree experts at your Davey office.


The Davey Tree Expert Company’s more than 8,000 employees provide tree care, grounds maintenance and environmental consulting services for the residential, utility, commercial and government markets throughout the U.S. and Canada. Davey has provided Proven Solutions for a Growing World since 1880 and has been employee-owned for 36 years. For more information, visit

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