Best Trees for Small Gardens

Having a small garden doesn't mean you have to miss out on the beauty and benefits of trees. In fact, carefully selecting the right trees can enhance your small garden, adding visual appeal, shade, privacy, and even attracting wildlife. If you're a proud owner of a small garden, this article will guide you through some of the best tree options that are well-suited to limited spaces. Let's explore the top choices that will transform your small garden into an inviting and captivating oasis.

Which are the Best Type of Trees?

If you have a smaller garden, it could be difficult to even know which species of tree would suit your space. These are the top 7 species of smaller trees:

Acer griseum

This is commonly known as the ‘Paperbark Maple’ tree because of its thin bark that naturally peels back to reveal a cinnamon coloured wood underneath. It looks beautiful in the autumn months due to its rich autumnal coloured foliage. Also consider Acer palmatum. Known for its stunning foliage, the Japanese Maple is an excellent choice for small gardens. With its delicate and intricately shaped leaves that turn vibrant shades of red, orange, and gold in autumn, this tree adds a touch of elegance and drama. Japanese Maples come in various sizes, including dwarf varieties, making them ideal for compact spaces. Ensure they are planted in partial shade and protected from harsh winds.

Crataegus persimilis

Crataegus persimilis, commonly known as the Apple Hawthorn, is a compact and charming tree that is well-suited for small gardens. It features glossy dark green leaves and clusters of white flowers in spring, followed by vibrant red berries in autumn. With its dense branching and thorny character, Crataegus persimilis provides visual interest, attracts wildlife, and adds a touch of natural beauty to limited garden spaces.

Rowan (suggested: Sorbus 'Joseph Rock' or 'Pink Pagoda')

Sorbus is also known as ‘Joseph Rock’. In late spring, the tree’s flowers are white, and its pale yellow fruits change to amber as the weather cools. These fruits are then complemented by red, orange and and purple foliage during autumn. Rowan trees, also known as Mountain Ash, are small to medium-sized trees that offer both beauty and practicality. Rowans are well-suited to small gardens as they have an upright, slender form and can be pruned to maintain a neat shape. 

Amelanchier x grandiflora (suggested 'Ballerina')

Amelanchier x grandiflora, commonly known as Snowy Mespilus or Apple Serviceberry, is a stunning ornamental tree that thrives in small gardens in the UK. It features delicate white flowers in spring, followed by small red or purple edible berries that attract birds. With its attractive multi-stemmed form and vibrant autumn foliage, Amelanchier x grandiflora adds beauty and interest to any compact garden space.

Flowering Cherry (suggested: Prunus 'Amanogawa')

Boasts dense clusters of beautiful shell-pink flowers in late Spring that have the most fantastic fragrance. The column-shaped tree’s young leaves begin a greenish bronze colour that complements the pink of the flowers. Flowering Cherry trees are renowned for their spectacular spring blossoms, transforming your small garden into a vision of pink or white clouds. They come in various sizes, so another option is to opt for compact or weeping varieties like 'Kojo-no-mai' or 'Snow Showers' that won't overpower your limited space. Flowering Cherries prefer a sunny location and well-drained soil, adding a touch of elegance and grace to your garden.

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis spp.)

Witch Hazel trees are excellent choices for small gardens, especially if you're looking for a tree that offers interest during winter. Their fragrant, spidery flowers bloom in late winter or early spring, and their attractive foliage turns vibrant shades of yellow, orange, and red in autumn. Compact varieties like 'Diane' and 'Arnold Promise' are suitable for smaller spaces, providing colour and fragrance during the colder months.

Crab Apple (Malus spp.)

Crab Apple trees offer a delightful display of colourful blossoms in spring, followed by small fruit in the autumn, which often attracts birds and other wildlife. There are many dwarf and compact varieties available, such as 'Golden Hornet' and 'Red Sentinel,' which don't exceed 4 metres in height. They are easy to maintain, provide interest throughout the year, and fit perfectly in small gardens.

Factors to Consider

When selecting trees for small gardens in the UK, several factors should be taken into consideration to ensure the best choice for your space. It is important that you keep these key factors in mind when choosing your tree:

Height and Spread:

When selecting trees for small gardens in the UK, it's crucial to consider the height and spread of the tree. Opt for compact or dwarf varieties that won't overpower the limited space. Look for trees with a vertical or columnar growth habit to provide height without encroaching on neighboring areas. Ensure the tree's spread is appropriate for your garden, avoiding species that will spread too wide or become invasive.

Season of Interest:

Choose trees that offer year-round interest to maximise the visual appeal of your small garden. Consider trees with attractive foliage, vibrant blossoms, or colourful fruits. Some trees may have stunning spring blossoms, while others provide autumn foliage in vibrant hues. Additionally, select trees with berries or fruits that attract wildlife, enhancing biodiversity in your garden. By considering the tree's season of interest, you can ensure a captivating display throughout the seasons.

Garden Conditions:

Take into account the specific conditions of your garden when choosing trees. Assess the soil type, sunlight exposure, and moisture levels. Some trees thrive in full sun, while others prefer partial shade. Consider the hardiness of the tree and its ability to withstand the local climate in your region. By matching the tree's requirements to your garden conditions, you can ensure healthy growth and longevity.

Deciduous or Evergreen:

Decide whether you prefer deciduous or evergreen trees for your small garden. Deciduous trees shed their leaves in autumn, providing a changing display of colours. They can create a light and airy feel, allowing more sunlight into the garden during winter. Evergreen trees, on the other hand, maintain their foliage year-round, providing year-round greenery and privacy. Consider your desired aesthetic and the specific functions you want the tree to fulfill when choosing between deciduous and evergreen options.

By considering the height and spread, season of interest, garden conditions, and deciduous or evergreen nature of trees, you can make an informed decision when selecting trees for your small garden. Careful consideration of these factors will ensure the trees not only fit the space but also provide visual appeal, functionality, and long-term success in your garden.


Regardless of the size of your garden, incorporating trees can elevate its appeal and provide numerous benefits. The Japanese Maple, Crab Apple, Rowan, Flowering Cherry, and Witch Hazel are all excellent choices that bring beauty, colour, dimension and wildlife to your small garden. By carefully selecting the right trees, you can create a harmonious and inviting space that maximises the potential of your personal outdoor area.

Do you have any ideas on including trees in smaller garden? Share your ideas with us!