Planting Small Trees: Tips For Choosing Trees For Small Yards

Planting Small Trees: Tips For Choosing Trees For Small Yards

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By: Jackie Carroll

When choosing trees for small yards and gardens, you’ll probably only have room for one, so make it special. If you want a flowering tree, try to find one with blossoms lasting longer than a week or two. Trees that form fruit after the flowers fade or have good fall color extend the period of interest. With a little research and some time spent browsing local nurseries, you’re sure to find the perfect small tree for your garden.

Planting Small Trees

Before you purchase a tree, make sure you can provide the right location. That includes having the type of soil and sun exposure indicated on the plant tag. If your soil is hard or drains poorly, you’ll need to improve it before planting the tree.

Dig a hole at least 12 inches (30.5 cm.) deep and about three times the width of the root ball. Amend the soil by mixing the dirt you removed from the hole with compost or composted manure.

Fill in the hole with enough soil so that when you set the tree in the hole, the soil line on the tree is even with the surrounding soil. Pack down the dirt in the bottom of the hole by pressing firmly with your foot. This gives the tree a solid base so that it doesn’t sink deeper when you water.

Fill in around the roots of the tree with the prepared fill dirt, pressing down firmly as you go. When the hole is half full, fill it with water to allow the soil to settle. When the hole is completely full, water the tree slowly and deeply. If the soil settles, fill in the depression with more soil, but don’t mound the soil up around the trunk.

Small Trees for Gardens

When you’re looking for small trees to plant, make sure they are in scale with your home and garden. A small garden can handle a tree that is 20 to 30 feet (6 to 9 m.) tall. Good evergreen trees for small gardens include Japanese white or black pine, Australian pines, and junipers. Evergreens make great background plants in spring and summer and become the focal point in winter.

Here are some small deciduous trees that provide a long season of interest, including excellent fall color:

  • Crepe myrtle
  • Crabapple
  • Purple leaf plum
  • Thinleaf alder
  • Serviceberries
  • Flowering dogwood
  • Hawthorn
  • Callery pear
  • Japanese tree lilac

Using Small Trees in the Landscape

There are many ways of using small trees in the landscape.

  • You can grow those with open canopies right in the garden bed. It’s hard to grow anything under a small tree with a dense canopy, so they are best used in the background.
  • If you have plenty of room, try grouping dwarf or miniature trees in their own bed.
  • You can use small trees as a lawn or stand-alone tree if you only have room for one.
  • Plant small trees in containers to use on your deck or patio.

Small trees for gardens are versatile as well as beautiful, and there is no end to the ways you can use them.

This article was last updated on

Read more about General Tree Care

Red Buckeye (Aesculus Pavia)

Japan, Asia and other parts of the world/Getty Images

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Japan, Asia and other parts of the world/Getty Images

The red buckeye puts on a dazzling spring show with vivid red flowers that last for weeks. The flowers are popular with hummingbirds and butterflies. This is a slow-growing tree that matures to a height of around 15 feet with a similar canopy spread. Hot, dry conditions can scorch the leaves.   So aim to plant your tree somewhere that gets afternoon shade, especially in hot climates, and water it during dry spells.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
  • Color Varieties: Red
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-draining

Watch the video: Selecting a Tree to Purchase. Fall Tree Planting: P. Allen Smith


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