Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Small Trees For Small Yards

I love trees. They are the backbone of any good landscape design. They add structure and a back drop to a garden. They provide shade in the summer, color in the fall, and their branches hold snow in the most artistic way in the winter. What is not to love?

However, urban, and new suburban properties, don’t often have the space needed to allow for large trees.  Those 12’ x 3’ Maples and Ashes at the nursery will eventually grow to 60’ x 30’. These can take up most of today’s 20’ x 40’ backyard and the neighbor’s too! Today’s garden requires smaller trees that provide “bang for your buck”. With limited space, a good small garden tree should offer something for every season or do one thing spectacularly well. The following trees meet these requirements:

Shadblow Serviceberry   (Amelanchier Canadensis)

Native to Southern Ontario, the Serviceberry truly offers something for every season. In the spring this small tree (15’x15’) is covered in white flowers. Summer brings glossy green leaves and small red berries that can be used in baking and jams. Fall color is a spectacular red-orange.


 Eastern Redbud  (Cercis canadensis)

Also native to Southern Ontario, this tree reaches it’s maximum height and width at 15’x20’, making it a perfect size for a small yard. The spring brings showy pink-purple blooms that cover all the branches. Heart shaped leaves emerge with a distinctive purple hue, turning to glossy green.  It’s fall color is a bright yellow.


Chinese Dogwood (Cornus Kousa)

The horizontal branching of this small tree (15’x12’) makes for fantastic winter interest when covered with snow.  It’s bright white bracts last longer than flowers. This tree also has brilliant red fall color and interesting flaking bark.


A few other spectacular small trees that would be a perfect addition to any small garden are:

Amur Maple (Acer ginnala)

Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum)

Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangeana)

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