25 Popular Small Trees for Landscaping

These dwarf varieties can make a big impact in a small space

dwarf tree cultivar

The Spruce / Gyscha Rendy

We don't all have room for a giant sequoia or huge oak in our yard. Fortunately, there are many small trees—known as dwarf trees in the landscaping trade—that are suitable for small yards. These trees generally mature at around 15 feet tall or less. Not only are they easy to fit into landscaping, but they are also less cumbersome to maintain than large trees. Pruning is typically a simpler task, as is training the trees to grow in a certain way. Plus, many small trees can even be grown in containers, which you might be able to bring inside for winter if your climate isn't suitable for them.

To plant a small tree in your yard, find a suitable spot away from strong winds. Dig a hole about twice the width of the root ball and roughly three inches deeper. Gently remove the rootball from the container and loosen the soil around the roots. Place the tree in the hole and backfill around the rootball, compressing the soil firmly as you go—the tree should remain in place if you give it a tug after filling the hole. Mulch around the base of the tree but keep the material a couple of inches away from the trunk. Give your new tree about a gallon of water each week.

Here are 25 small trees that are ideal for landscaping tight spaces.


If you have a small yard, focus on your vertical space. Select plants with an upright growth habit, and use vertical planters to maximize your ground space.

  • 01 of 25

    Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria Japonica)

    Japanese cedar tree with dense foliage alongside driveway

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Cryptomeria japonica can grow as tall as 60 feet. Luckily there is a dwarf tree cultivar that’s just the right size to fit the smallest of spaces. 'Globosa Nana' grows only a little over three feet high with a pyramidal shape. Its blue-green foliage develops a bit of a reddish-bronze color in the winter. Make sure never to allow its soil to dry out, and plant it somewhere sheltered from harsh winter winds.

    USDA Growing Zones: 5a to 9a

    Color Varieties: Nonflowering

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Soil Needs: Moist, rich, acidic, well-drained

  • 02 of 25

    Wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox)

    Wintersweet shrub branches with small yellow fringe-like petals closeup

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Wintersweet is usually grown as a shrub, but it can be trained easily to grow as a small tree. It generally reaches around 10 to 15 feet tall and 8 to 12 feet wide when mature. The yellow blooms that arrive over the winter are quite fragrant, making this an ideal plant to situate near a deck or patio. Make sure to keep its soil moist but not soggy.

    USDA Growing Zones: 7b to 9a

    Color Varieties: Yellow with purple-brown centers

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Soil Needs: Moist, rich, well-drained

  • 03 of 25

    Harlequin Gloryblower (Clerodendrum trichotomum)

    Harlequin gloryblower tree branches with pink berries and tiny white flower buds

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Even if you don’t have a lot of landscaping room, you can still include some wow factor. The harlequin gloryblower can achieve that with its ultra-showy summer flowers and purple pearlescent fruits. The foliage on this plant also has a unique trait: When bruised it smells somewhat like peanut butter. It will take a few seasons to train your harlequin gloryblower into tree form with some easy pruning. The mature plant can reach between 10 and 20 feet high.

    USDA Growing Zones: 7b to 9a

    Color Varieties: White

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained

  • 04 of 25

    Franklin Tree (Franklinia alatamaha)

    Closeup of a Franklinia flower

    The Spruce / Les Engels

    Franklinia alatamaha is a dwarf tree that can grow either with a single trunk or as a multi-stemmed shrub. It features five-petal, sweetly fragrant blooms that appear late in the summer. While it can grow up to 20 feet as a tree, that's uncommon. Its average height is around 8 to 10 feet. This plant must have sharp soil drainage, as it is not tolerant of being waterlogged.

    USDA Growing Zones: 5b to 8a

    Color Varieties: White

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Soil Needs: Rich, medium moisture, well-drained

    Continue to 5 of 25 below.
  • 05 of 25

    'Carnival' Hedge Maple (Acer campestre 'Carnival')

    Foliage of Acer campestre 'Carnival'

    Megan Hansen / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0

    Acer campestre 'Carnival' is a hedge maple cultivar. This dwarf tree's foliage appears as a variegated silver and lime green for most of the year, though it is a cotton candy pink in the early spring. Best of all, it tops out at only around 15 feet, providing a lot of visual interest in a tiny package. It also needs relatively little maintenance besides watching out for common garden pests, such as aphids and scale.

    USDA Growing Zones: 5b to 8a

    Color Varieties: Yellow-green

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-drained

  • 06 of 25

    'Randy' Magnolia (Magnolia 'Randy')

    Magnolia 'Randy' bloom

    David J. Stang / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

    The ‘Randy’ magnolia cultivar is part of the Little Girl series, making them similar to a magnolia 'Jane' which were all bred to be small, low-branched deciduous trees. It grows around 10 to 15 feet tall with an oval form. And in the late spring, it blooms with reddish-purple, star-shaped flowers that have white on the inside. This dwarf tree doesn’t need much pruning besides removing dead or diseased branches as needed.

    USDA Growing Zones: 4a to 8a

    Color Varieties: Red-purple

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Soil Needs: Rich, neutral to slightly acidic, medium moisture, well-drained

  • 07 of 25

    Hardy Orange (Citrus trifoliata)

    Hardy orange tree branches with round light green fruit hanging

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    A member of the citrus family, the hardy orange does produce small fruits that ripen in the fall. But unlike typical oranges, they are quite acidic and have more of a lemon flavor. Many gardeners leave them on the tree for aesthetic value rather than consuming them. This plant can grow as a shrub or small tree, reaching around 8 to 15 feet high. It can be pruned after it’s done flowering, but be careful of its sharp thorns.

    USDA Growing Zones: 5a to 9a

    Color Varieties: White

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-drained

  • 08 of 25

    Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides)

    Dawn redwood tree with sprawling thin branches and fern-like leaves

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    The main dawn redwood species can easily reach 100 feet. However, the cultivar ‘Miss Grace’ is an extremely slow-growing dwarf tree. It will only reach around 8 feet after 10 years. This cultivar has a weeping form that offers flexibility for those with small yards. It can be left to weep in almost a completely prostrate manner or staked to grow upright.  

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4a to 8a
    • Color Varieties: Nonflowering
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Humusy, moist, well-drained
    Continue to 9 of 25 below.
  • 09 of 25

    Yellowhorn (Xanthoceras sorbifolium)

    Yellowhorn Blooms

    William Herron / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

    Native to China, yellowhorn is not commonly seen in landscaping. But it is a beautiful flowering tree that’s worth a look. It matures between 8 and 25 feet high and features an abundance of star-shaped blossoms in the springtime, followed by small green fruits. Plus, it’s quite hardy and adaptable to various growing conditions. It can tolerate some shade but ideally should be planted in full sun for best flowering.

    USDA Growing Zones: 4b to 7a

    Color Varieties: White with yellow or red center

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-drained 

  • 10 of 25

    Mountain Witch Alder (Fothergilla latifolia)

    Mountain Witchalder side by side in its shrub (Left) and tree form (Right)

    Ron Evans / Getty Images

    Mountain witch alder is a slow-growing shrub that can be trained to grow as a dwarf tree with a single trunk. It reaches only around 6 to 10 feet high. This plant bears fragrant flowers in the spring, and in the fall the foliage turns to shades of red, orange, and yellow. In optimal growing conditions, it is prone to spreading via root suckers around the base of the plant. So these should be removed if you want to limit its spread. 

    USDA Growing Zones: 4a to 8a

    Color Varieties:

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-drained

  • 11 of 25

    Dwarf Chestnut Oak (Quercus prinoides)

    Quercus prinoides at the Arnold Arboretum

    Daderot / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

    Oaks trees are one of the most ecologically important species. They host countless moths and butterflies and are a vital source of food for wildlife. The dwarf chestnut oak allows you to contribute to this even in a small yard. This dwarf tree only reaches around 12 to 25 feet high. And it will start producing acorns in a few years, benefiting wildlife. It will require some raking of fallen leaves in the fall but not nearly as much as a larger oak.

    USDA Growing Zones: 5b to 8a

    Color Varieties: Yellow, green, red

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Soil Needs: Average, acidic to neutral, medium moisture, well-drained

  • 12 of 25

    Dragon Lady Holly (Ilex × aquipernyi 'Meschick')

    Berries and Foliage of the Dragon Lady Holly

    David J. Stang / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

    Several holly varieties can work in a small space, but the Dragon Lady holly is an excellent choice for a few reasons. It is widely available. Its conical form requires little maintenance. And it only reaches around 10 to 20 feet high. However, to get the attractive berries, you need both a female plant and a male pollinator nearby.

    USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 8

    Color Varieties: White

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Soil Needs: Acidic, moist, well-drained

    Continue to 13 of 25 below.
  • 13 of 25

    Spanish Fir (Abies pinsapo)

    Spanish fir tree with branches covered in short blue-green needles

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    The Spanish fir's main species plant grows between 50 and 75 feet high on average. But the dwarf tree cultivar Abies pinsapo 'Fastigiata' only reaches around 10 feet tall. The short, rigid, evergreen needles are a blue-green color. And the seed cones are a pinkish-purple color that matures to brown. This fir tree is fairly low-maintenance, but it is important to keep an eye out for insect pests.

    USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 7

    Color Varieties: Nonflowering

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Soil Needs: Somewhat rich, slightly acidic, medium moisture, well-drained

  • 14 of 25

    'Lemon Lime Lace' Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum 'Lemon Lime Lace')

    Acer palmatum 'Lemon Lime Lace'

    Bonehead / Garden.org

    Acer palmatum 'Lemon Lime Lace' is a colorful, compact Japanese maple cultivar. The leaves emerge a lemon-yellow color, turning to chartreuse in the summer, and ending up a bright orange in the fall before dropping for winter. This dwarf tree only reaches around 6 to 12 feet high with a 4- to 5-foot spread. Pruning is not typically needed, but any pruning for shape should be done in the late fall.

    USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8

    Color Varieties: Insignificant

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Soil Needs: Rich, moist, slightly acidic, well-drained

  • 15 of 25

    Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

    Witch hazel shrub with small yellow flowers next to river

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Witch hazel can be grown as a shrub or dwarf tree. In landscape use, it usually reaches only around 15 to 20 feet high, though in the wild it can grow even taller. In the fall, the plant bears shaggy, citrus-scented, yellow flowers. Overall, witch hazel is low-maintenance. If you need to clean up growth, pruning in the early spring is best.

    USDA Growing Zones: 3a to 9a

    Color Varieties: Yellow

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-drained

  • 16 of 25

    Amur maple (Acer tataricum subsp. ginnala)

    Amur maple tree from a distance

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Amur maple is a fast-growing but relatively small subspecies of tatarian maple (A. tataricum) that grows to only about 20 feet tall and has brilliant red fall foliage. It is a good choice if you want a small tree with brilliant fall color that grows quickly. Few trees will show results faster than this species, but care must be taken not to allow the plentiful seeds to volunteer in native areas where they are unwanted. In parts of the Midwest, the use of this easy-to-grow tree is discouraged. It is naturally a multi-stemmed small tree or large shrub, but it can be easily pruned to favor a central leader that serves as a trunk.

    USDA Growing Zones: 2a–8a

    Color Varieties: Yellow-green flowers (non-showy)

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained

    Continue to 17 of 25 below.
  • 17 of 25

    Dwarf flowering crabapple

    pink flowering crabapple tree in nature

    The Spruce

    While most apple trees grown for their edible fruit are cultivars of Malus, flowering crabapples are a much more diverse group, with dozens of different species and hundreds of hybrids and cultivars. Most are relatively diminutive trees, rarely growing more than 30 feet tall, but there are many notable dwarf varieties you can choose from if you want a beautiful spring-flowering tree that takes up little space. For example, consider 'Abaria', a small 10-foot tree with beautiful creamy-white flowers; or 'Cinderella, an 8-foot-tall tree with yellow fruits.

    USDA Growing Zones:  4–8

    Color Varieties: White, pink, red, purple

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained

  • 18 of 25

    Dwarf apple (Malus)

    Dwarf apple tree

    Linda Raymond / Getty Images

    The many varieties of domestic apples are categorized according to size, from "very dwarfing" trees just 4- to 6 feet tall, to "very vigorous" varieties growing to 15 feet or more. The height of the trees is dictated by the type of rootstock used, so many types of apple trees are available in two or more sizes. For home gardens, some excellent tried-and-true varieties include 'Honeycrisp' (good for cooler climates), 'Granny Smith' (short chill time, ideal for warmer climates), and 'Golden Delicious' (works well in both cool and warm climates). Remember that different apple varieties require different chill periods—the number of days when temperatures reach between 32 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure to choose a variety that matches your region's climate.

    USDA Growing Zones:  3–9 (varies by cultivar)

    Color Varieties:  White flowers; fruit colors include yellow, green, pink, and red

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-draining, slightly acidic

  • 19 of 25

    Dwarf cherry (Prunus avium cultivars)

    Dwarf cherry tree

    Alexandr Penkov / Getty Images

    Many fruit trees are now available in small dwarf varieties, perfect for when you want a beautiful flowering tree that also produces plenty of edible fruit while taking up a small amount of space. No fruit tree fits that bill better than dwarf cultivars of sweet cherry (Prunus avium). These trees are best suited for temperate climates—the places where citrus trees are out of the question. In general, cherry trees are rather small specimens, rarely growing more than 25 or 30 feet tall, but if you have even tighter space restrictions, look for one of the dwarf cultivars, such as 'Lapins' (a 12-to 18-foot tree that produces an especially heavy crop of black fruits) or 'Stella' (8- to 10-foot tree that produces especially sweet cherries in early summer).

    USDA Growing Zones: 4-8 (varies by cultivar)

    Color Varieties:  White blossoms in spring

    Sun Exposure: Full sun 

    Soil Needs: Moist but well-drained

  • 20 of 25

    Dwarf Alberta Spruce (Picea glauca 'Conica')

    Dwarf Alberta tree on gravel ground in front of other evergreen trees

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Dwarf Alberta spruce (Picea glauca 'Conica') is a popular cultivar of the white spruce, bred to be a slow-growing specimen that reaches a mature height of only 10 to 13 feet. It is ideal for when you require a small evergreen that doesn't overwhelm a landscape the way many pines can. Slow-growing (2 to 4 inches per year), it makes a good potted patio tree and is sometimes used as a living Christmas tree. But this tree is not well suited to warm climates and will struggle in zones 7 and above. The dense needles can be prone to fungal disease unless air circulation is good.

    USDA Growing Zones: 5b-7a

    Color Varieties: Non-flowering

    Sun Exposure:  Full sun

    Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained

    Continue to 21 of 25 below.
  • 21 of 25

    Hinoki Cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa)

    hinoki cypress tree

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault 

    Because the native species can be quite a towering tree, it may surprise you to learn that there are several cultivars of cypress that are quite diminutive, making them perfect specimens where a small evergreen landscape tree is called for. Suitable for zones 5 to 8, C. obtusa is a native of Japan. It has a spreading growth habit with horizontal branches that dip at the ends. The foliage consists of flattened scale-like leaves rather than needles. Some excellent small cultivars include 'Confucious' (4 to 5 feet), 'Fernspray Gold' (10 feet with yellow branches), and 'Tetragona Aurea' (reaching just 10 feet in height after 10 years of growth). Further, Hinoki cypress is so slow growing that it can make an excellent potted tree or bonsai specimen, as repotting is needed rarely.

    USDA Growing Zones: 4a–8a

    Color Varieties: Non-flowering

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Soil Needs: Acidic, well-drained

  • 22 of 25

    Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)

    Crepe myrtle tree branches with mint green leaves and pink flower clusters on ends

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica), or crape myrtle, is a native Asian species of small flowering tree that has become iconic in southern U.S. gardens—and for good reason. Producing beautiful flowers in shades of pinkish red for a long bloom period from July to September, it continues the display with attractive yellow to red fall foliage and has exfoliating bark that makes for good winter appeal. Most cultivars are relatively small, growing to a maximum of 15 to 25 feet tall, but for an even smaller specimen, you can choose from several cultivars, including ' Enduring Summer White', a 4 to 5-foot tall dwarf, and 'Catawba', a purple-flowered cultivar that grows to a maximum of 15 feet. Crepe myrtle will naturally assume a multi-stemmed growth habit, but if you prefer a single-trunked tree, it readily accepts pruning to this shape.

    USDA Growing Zones:  7b-9a

    Color Varieties: Rose red

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Soil Needs:  Medium moisture, well-drained

  • 23 of 25

    Dwarf Mandarin Orange Tree

    Citrus reticulata tree

    Neme Jimenez / Getty Images

    In the landscape, dwarf orange trees are hardy only in zones 9 to 11, but as patio trees that can be moved into a shelter for the winter, they can be grown into zone 4. There are many small varieties of dwarf orange trees to choose from, but those from the mandarin group (Citrus reticulata) are both naturally small, and produce smaller, sweeter, and largely seedless fruits). Two recommended types from this group include:

    • ’Clementine’ (Citrus reticulata 'Clementine'): This is precisely the same Clementine orange sold in grocery stores. It grows 8 to 10 feet tall with seedless, sweet fruit that ripens in midsummer.
    • 'Tango' (Citrus reticulata 'Tango): This cultivar is 8 to 10 feet tall, producing fruit from January through spring when grown as a landscape tree.

    USDA Growing Zones:  9–11

    Color Varieties:  White flowers in spring

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Soil Needs: Loamy, well-drained

  • 24 of 25

    Dwarf Redbud (Cercis spp.)

    Dwarf cercis sp. tree

    Vladimir1965 / Getty Images

    Even in species form, redbuds are all relatively small trees, with a maximum height of about 25 feet, but for a truly small landscape tree, choose one of the several dwarf varieties available, such as the natural variation Alba (12 feet), or the cultivar 'Covey' a weeping form that grows only 5 to 6 feet tall. This North American native does not do well in hot climates but is tolerant of any well-drained soil. Unpruned, it tends toward a multi-stemmed shrubby growth habit, but it is easily trained to be a beautiful small single-trunk tree. It blooms in very early spring before leaves appear.

    USDA Growing Zones: 4a to 9a

    Color Varieties: Pink to purple

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Soil Needs: Any well-drained soil

    Continue to 25 of 25 below.
  • 25 of 25

    Dwarf Lemon (Citrus x limon 'Meyer')

    Dwarf Lemon (Citrus meyeri)

    Denis Tevekov / Getty Images

    This tree is a hybrid creation, a cross between a lemon and a Mandarine orange. Growing to a maximum of 10 feet, it is both beautiful (with glossy green leaves and white flowers) and productive (producing delicious fruit starting when it is about four years old). Its natural growth habit is as a multi-stemmed plant, but it can easily be pruned to take a more classic single-trunk form. It can also make an excellent container tree for a sunny patio.

    USDA Growing Zones: 9–11

    Color Varieties: White

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Soil Needs: Sandy, well-draining

Article Sources
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  1. Flowering Crabapple Trees. Colorado State University Extension

  2. Growing Apple Trees in a Home Garden. University of Maryland Extension