We present a selection of trees that will fit and thrive in a small garden.
Trees add structure, shade, and a level of permanence to any garden, and choosing an appropriate specimen will bring many years of enjoyment. Autumn is the ideal time to plant trees, but you should carefully consider your space and garden conditions before planting.
Here, we have gathered a selection of trees that grow well in temperate climates and perfectly fit a small garden. They also do well in containers, which naturally restricts their growth. If you are ready to create your ideal garden or incorporate any of the ideas below, just contact our garden design team here.
Dwarf pomegranate (Punica granatum)
Add a Mediterranean vibe to even the smallest of gardens with this small pomegranate tree. It grows well in a pot, and the fruits are edible but tiny. Plant along a sheltered south-facing wall in well-drained soil. Height and spread: 1x1m
Japanese maple (Acer palmatum)
Acers provide dazzling autumn foliage with beautiful leaf shapes and graceful branching. These deciduous trees grow relatively slowly and will not need regular repotting if grown in large containers. Acers prefer a slightly acidic soil, growing well in full sun or partial shade and sheltered from winds. Try A. palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’ for dazzling yellow foliage, and ‘Osakazuki’ for glowing reds. Height and spread: 1.2–8m depending on cultivar.
Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’
Deep purple heart-shaped leaves make ‘Forest Pansy’ a small garden favourite. For best results, plant this multi-stemmed tree directly in the ground as older specimens dislike replanting. Grow in well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade. Height and spread: 4-8m over 10-20 years.
Sorbus ‘Joseph Rock’
Yellow berries mingle with orange, red, and purple foliage in this deciduous specimen, also known as mountain ash ‘Joseph Rock’. It serves as an ideal focal tree in a small garden and tolerates most garden conditions in full sun or partial shade. Height and spread: 8x4m over 20-50 years.
Prunus serrulata ‘Amanogawa’
A remarkable columnar shape makes ‘Amanogawa’ ideal for a small garden. It grows well in full sun and moderately fertile soil, forming delicate flowers in late spring. Height and spread: 4x2.5m over 20-50 years.
Pinus pumila ‘Glauca’
This spreading evergreen conifer (also called dwarf Siberian pine) brings structure to the garden with blue-grey needles and purple cones. It grows in full sun and can tolerate exposed conditions and most well-drained soil. Height and spread: 1.5x2.5m
Syringa vulgaris 'Andenken an Ludwig Späth'
For amazing fragrance, incorporate Syringa (lilac) in your garden. This cultivar features heart shaped leaves and deep red flowers. It grows well in sheltered conditions in well-drained soil that is neutral or slightly alkaline. Height and spread: 2.5x2.5m.
In milder climates, this fruit tree (loquat) bears edible apricot-coloured fruit. But even if the fruit doesn’t ripen in your area, the glossy green leaves and structure make this a perfect tree for a small garden. It grows in full sun and well-drained soil. Height and spread: 4x4m.
Dwarf fruit trees
Fruit trees grown in containers reward you with fragrant blossoms and edibles. You can grow apples, cherries, and figs in containers. The restricted growth will encourage more fruiting, and they will require repotting every couple of years. When growing an apple tree in a container, make sure the rootstock comes from a specimen that thrives in containers.