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Partner Post: 10 Great Trees for a Small Yard

Small trees can pack a big punch in your landscape. With so many varieties available, it may seem impossible to choose just one or two. Luckily, branching out and learning about new plants is the fun part!

If you have a small landscape, try one of these 10 trees, recommended by The Davey Tree Expert Company. All are slow growers that reach a maximum of 30 feet in height and width.


1. Flowering Dogwood (USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 5 to 8)

  • Dogwood trees 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 flowers and has a red winter stem that gives it four-season appeal. Be sure to choose one that is resistant to dogwood anthracnose, a potentially serious disease.
  • Size: 25 to 30 feet tall and wide, depending on the specific type
  • Why we love it: In addition to those glowing leaves, this tree attracts birds with its bright red fruit.


2. Kousa Dogwood (Zones 5 to 8)

  • This tree offers a terrific spring show with its delicate pink or white flowers. Yet this species keeps performing once spring ends. It bears fruit in late summer and reddish-purple foliage in the fall.
  • Size: 10 to 25 feet tall and wide, depending on variety
  • Why we love it: It’s a wonderful disease-resistant alternative to its cousin, the flowering dogwood.


3. Crabapple (Zones 3 to 8)

  • Red buds erupt into flowers in shades of white, pink or red in spring. Come autumn, vibrant fruits dangle among colorful leaves. Humans can’t eat the apples, but wildlife love to snack on the sweet fruit. Different varieties grow in a weeping, rounded or vertical shape. Be sure to select one listed as disease resistant.
  • Size: 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.


4. Redbud (Zones 5 to 9)

  • Valued for its spring display of pink or white flowers, redbud trees are small and easy-to-grow. Plus, they have delightful heart-shaped 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: The redbud provides a splendid show in spring when the tree is covered in flowers.


5. Fringe Tree (Zones 4 to 8)

  • Expect color all year with this tree. 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, though.
  • Size: 12 to 20 feet tall and wide
  • Why we love it: It’s native to areas of Eastern North America, which means it’s often low-maintenance since the plant is adapted to thrive in your region.


6. 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 it plenty of room. 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, the saucer magnolia branches gracefully sweep the ground as the tree grows.


7. Winter King Hawthorn (Zones 4 to 7)

  • As a slow growing, dense, and thorny tree, the hawthorn is 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 a disease-resistant tree.
  • Size: 25 feet tall and 30 feet wide
  • Why we love it: This tree attracts pollinators to its spring blooms, and birds love its late summer fruits.


8. Blackhaw Viburnum (Zones 3 to 9)

  • A hardy, small tree with a form like hawthorns, the Blackhaw produces clusters of small, cream-colored flowers during spring and fruit in the fall. As a bonus, the fruits are edible for both wildlife and humans. 
  • Size: 15 feet tall and wide
  • Why we love it: This small, native tree has a unique shape and is very shade tolerant.


9. 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, native tree is hardy and 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.


10. Japanese Tree Lilac (Zones 3 to 7)

  • Large, fragrant lilac blooms grace this small tree. After the flowers fade, the tree drops seeds that attract birds. It maintains a lovely shape without needing extensive pruning. Plus, this lilac looks great in landscape borders.
  • Size: 25 feet high and not quite as wide
  • Why we love it: With showy blooms in early summer, this tree will catch your eye after many other trees have stopped flowering.


This list is just the beginning! 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.  

About the Author

The Davey Tree Expert Company provides research-driven tree services, grounds maintenance and environmental solutions for residential, utility, commercial and environmental partners across North America. As one of the largest employee-owned companies in the U.S., Davey has been dedicated to creating and delivering sustainable solutions for 140 years. Become part of the Davey legacy and apply today.

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