Small Trees for Small Yards

One of the most common questions we get in the spring is do you have small trees? They do not mean trees that will get big, but rather trees that stay small. These kinds of trees can be difficult to find and even locate in a landscape. Small trees are often just shrubs that have been trained to be trees. Let’s take a look at 5 small trees for the garden.

Whitebud ‘Miss America’ an original selection from Grimm’s Gardens

While redbuds are quite common in North American landscape and have been a staple of the landscape industry for years, the whitebud is a much less common tree. Whitebuds are just redbuds with white flowers instead of pink or purple. A whitebud that will be available soon (2020) is called ‘Miss America’. This whitebud tree is rounded, growing 15 to 40 feet tall and wide. The unique thing about this particular whitebud is that is is seedless, without all the mess of seedlings and pods you may get from standard redbuds and whitebuds. They grow in well-drained to heavy clay soils, full sun to part shade, and are drought tolerant. A good small tree for small landscapes.

Japanese Maple ‘Tameyukeama’

The whitebud may be the largest of this list. Japanese maple ‘Tameyukeama’ may be the smallest. This cutleaf Japanese maple has a weeping habit, and can be trained into an upright tree with weeping branches or grown small like an overflowing fountain of red-purple leaves. The leaves turn orange-red in the fall. This Japanese maple prefers well-drained soils, part sun, and protection from northwest winds. It is fairly drought tolerant, however. It can be used as a specimen, on either side of an entryway, or in shady spots along the house.

Seven-Son Tree just past bloom in September

My favorite small tree for landscapes is the Seven-Son Tree. Recently, Proven Winners has taken on this tree and developed a cultivar ‘Temple of Bloom’. While this may be difficult to find for a few years, the Seven-Son tree is not. Readily available, this small tree grows 10 to 20 feet tall and 10 to 15 feet wide. It has wonderful peeling bark, white blooms followed by red calyxes in late summer, and is very drought tolerant. It grows well in full sun to part shade. Use is for a specimen, plant it under power lines, or add it as the center of a pollinator garden-the flowers attract a wide variety of pollinators.

Serviceberry blooming in spring

The serviceberry is almost forgotten among all the other trees available in the nursery. This small native tree has many species and subspecies, including shrubs and trees. There are many serviceberry cultivars available. Most grow from 15 to 30 feet tall and wide. They do produce some suckers and seedlings, but can be planted in a wet spot like near a downspout or sump drain. The flower white in early spring and are followed by purple-black berries resembling blueberries that are edible and do make good pies and jelly. 

Leonard Messel magnolia in early spring

Finally, the magnolia ‘Leonard Messel’ is another favorite of mine. This double-pink flowering tree is extremely fragrant and tough. It is very drought tolerant and does will in full sun to part shade. It grows 8 to 12 feet tall and 2 to 6 feet wide. The flowers are very attractive in early spring when nothing else is blooming. It is great under power lines, in shady corners, or used as a specimen plant. 


Hope this selection of small trees works in your yard. Please check out Grimm’s Gardens online store for more small trees!


Happy planting!

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