Ornamental Trees For Small Gardens

We grow lots of fantastic ornamental trees that are perfect for small gardens. If you’re looking for wonderful spring blossom, beautiful foliage or colourful bark and berries, there is a tree for every design. Smaller trees are also great in garden borders or as special features in larger gardens. The range to choose from is more extensive than ever and we introduce exciting new varieties every year.

There are three main types of ornamental trees that are ideal for small gardens:

~ Varieties that are naturally small, slow growing or upright in habit.

~ Trees that can be pruned hard every year so they never get very big.

~ Trees that can be grafted onto dwarf rootstocks so they remain small.

Many of these trees can be kept in a large container so even if you don’t have open ground to plant into, you can still add trees to your garden. Trees provide structure and style to any outdoor space and are incredibly important for wildlife.

This article aims to highlight some of our favourites that are easy to grow and will contribute something really special to your garden. There are a great many more to choose from so if you are unsure, do feel free to contact our Tree Shop for more advice.

Ornamental trees for small gardens

Varieties that are naturally small, slow growing or upright in habit.

There are many excellent varieties of trees that have been selected because they are naturally small. These could be chance seedlings that have been brought into cultivation, or the result of special breeding programmes. Some trees that most people think will get huge, such as oaks, also have smaller varieties that look great in a garden. Naturally dwarf trees often require little pruning and are very easy to look after.

Ornamental trees for small gardens
Here are some of our favourites…

Trees that can be pruned hard every year so they never get very big.

Pruning or pollarding trees is a great way to keep them small. This is usually done in winter in one go and requires cutting back all the new growth from the previous summer. This produces vibrant, fresh growth in the spring so you can enjoy the delights of a naturally large tree but on a much smaller scale. There are many examples as most trees are happy to be pruned back hard. The following suggestions are spectacular and easy to maintain:

Catalpa (Indian Bean Tree)

There are two recommended types: bignonioides ‘Aurea’ with a yellow leaf and x erubescens ‘Purpurea’ with a purple leaf. Both varieties can be cut back hard in the middle of winter, which encourages bright, fresh foliage to enjoy the following summer.

Crataegus (Hawthorns)

Ornamental thorns produce some of the most gorgeous blossom in May. This is followed by bright red berries and good autumn colour in the leaves. Unpruned they can grow to four or five metres tall but they are very tough and can be cut back to any size required. Three reliable garden varieties are ‘Paul’s Scarlet’, ‘Crimson Cloud’ andCarrierei’.

Salix (Willow)

Willows are happy to be cut back or coppiced right to the ground. Just leave the stump and it will regrow happily each year. Known for its rich stem colours, the cuttings can also be used for weaving and decorations. Ideally they should be planted in damp ground as they prefer a lot of water. Three stunning varieties are ‘Britzensis’ (Scarlet Willow), ‘Hutchinson’s Yellow’ and ‘Golden Curls’.

Ilex (Holly)

Slow growing and easy to manage, hollies can be pruned like topiary. Almost any shape can be achieved from lollipops to columns or pyramids. The evergreen foliage looks fantastic all year round and female forms produce pretty berries in autumn. We would recommend any of these varieties: Alaska, ‘Golden King’, ‘Handsworth New Silver’ or J. C. van Tol’.

Malus (Crab Apples)

Considered to be some of the most dazzling garden trees, ornamental Malus produce heaps of blossom and fruit, often with excellent foliage colours too. Like all Malus, these trees can be pruned into different forms, kept small with little effort. There are dozens to choose from, all offer something unique. Some of the most popular are:Red Sentinel’, ‘Evereste’, ‘Golden Hornet’, ‘Cardinal’, ‘Scarlett’, ‘Wedding Bouquet’, ‘Gorgeous’, ‘Butterball’, ‘Indian Magic’, ‘Prairie Fire’, ‘John Downie’, ‘Jelly King and Comtesse de Paris.

A few other types of large trees that can be pruned hard that also deserve a mention are Carpinus (Hornbeam), Castanea (Sweet Chestnut), Corylus (Hazel), Fagus (Beech), Paulownia tomentosa (Foxglove Tree) and Tilia cordata (Small Leaved Lime).

Some varieties can be grafted onto dwarf rootstocks so they remain small.

We grow some varieties of Crab Apples on the dwarf rootstock M27. This rootstock has very little vigour keeping the tree very small. These trees need little pruning and are great for growing in a large container. The varieties to choose from are Evereste,Gorgeous, Pink GlowandRed Sentinel’.

We continue to add to our ornamental trees for small gardens range so it’s always worth checking our latest stock lists.

For information about Fruit Trees for Small Gardens, click here.

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