We don't all have room for a mighty oak or a weeping beech in our backyards, but there are trees for just about any size yard. Whether you are looking for a little shade or a bit of color to brighten your property, most of these trees all mature at under 30 ft. tall and will require minimal work to look great in your yard.
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Birch trees tend to grow in multi-trunk clumps. Many have attractive bark, like the white paper bark birch and river birch, and wonderful golden fall color. Although they grow quickly and can reach 60 ft in height, they have a narrow spread at their base and the canopy allows dappled sunlight through.
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Even the smallest of yards can accommodate a crabapple tree. Many top out at 12 to 15 ft. tall. They provide a month of white spring flowers that attract native pollinators, including the honeybee. The flowers are followed by dangling clusters of fruits that are popular with birds.
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Crepe myrtles require a long, warm growing season, but they reward you with stunning flowers throughout the summer and showy fall foliage. Removing the lower branches exposes the attractive bark. Crepe myrtles bloom on new wood and should be pruned in late winter. They can reach heights of 25 to 30 ft. tall.Continue to 5 of 18 below.
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Dogwood trees are fast growers that can handle a partially shaded site. They are one of the first trees to bloom in the spring and even look good when they are surrounded by their fallen petals. There are several dogwood species and you should look for one that is suitable for your area. Most grow to only 15 to 25 ft. tall.
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Golden Chain Trees have a distinctive green bark. The clover-like leaves allow some dappled sun to break through, but it is their long racemes of brilliant yellow flowers that make this tree a stunner. The trees bloom in late spring and grow to about 15 to 25 ft. tall.
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Cockspur Hawthorn (Crataegus crus-galli)
Take the word "thorn" in the name of this tree seriously. While you would not want to plant a small hawthorn where children will be playing, this tree offers beautiful white spring flowers, long-lasting red fruits that are popular with birds, and glowing orange fall foliage. Once it matures to 15 to 25 ft. in height, the thorns should not be a problem.
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Japanese maples can be shrubby or small trees with weeping habits or spreading canopies. They are beloved for their delicate leaves, which can be deeply lobed, sometimes to the point of being fringed. There are green and red-leaved varieties that turn eye-catching shades of red, orange, and even purple in the fall. Their average mature height is 15 to 25 ft. tall.Continue to 9 of 18 below.
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The delicately fragrant pink and white flowers of the saucer magnolia appear before the leaves unfurl in spring. The flowers can be 10 inches across, giving them their common name of "saucer," and cover the tree's canopy. Saucer magnolias may need a bit of shaping, but they don't grow much taller than 20 to 25 ft.
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Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin)
The mimosa tree has a very tropical appearance, with huge fern-like leaves and unusual fragrant thread-like flowers that give the plant another common name, the silk tree. Although beautiful and popular with wildlife, it can be invasive in certain areas, so check with your local cooperative extension office before planting one in your yard. The average height is 20 to 25 ft. tall.
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Pawpaw trees have foot-long leaves and tropical looking fruits with a flavor described as a cross between an avocado and a sweet mango. You would need two pawpaw trees for cross-pollination, to produce the fruits, but these are smallish trees, reaching a height of 15 to 30 ft.
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Eastern redbuds burst into flower in very early spring, before they leaf out. The flowers are more of a hot pink than red, although there are also white flowering varieties. It has an attractive spreading habit that opens into a vase-like shape. Popular with early butterflies, the eastern redbud averages 20 to 30 ft. in height.Continue to 13 of 18 below.
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Serviceberry trees are in the rose family and you will notice the similarities in both the white spring flowers and the fruits. The fruits, like crabapples and rose hips, are edible, but tart. They are very popular with birds. There are several species and varieties of serviceberry that make excellent landscape plants. Some grow only 8 to 10 ft. tall, while others will mature to about 20 ft.
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Many evergreens make wonderful specimen plants in small yards. The Dwarf Alberta spruce isn't really a dwarf tree, it is just slow growing and does not usually get larger than about 10 to 12 ft. in height. The needles are very dense and it retains its pyramidal shape without pruning. This is a wonderful tree for winter interest.
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Japanese Stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia)
The camellia-like flowers of the Japanese stewartia tree open over a series of weeks, in midsummer. Enhancing the loverly flowers is the peeling bark in mottled shades of orange, red, brown, and gray. This is a very ornamental specimen tree that prefers a partially shaded site. Stewartia trees are very slow growing, but they can eventually reach heights of over 30 ft.
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Although called the Chaste Tree, it is really more of a deciduous shrub. However, it is a large shrub, reaching a height of 8 to 20 ft. tall and 5 to 20 ft. wide, the size can easily be controlled with pruning. It is the long panicles of purple or white flowers that make this tree so enticing for both people and butterflies. It is often compared to the butterfly bush (Buddleja spp.) but blooms later and will repeat bloom with some deadheading.Continue to 17 of 18 below.
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The branches of weeping cherry trees can be covered in flowers from their crown to the tips brushing the ground. These are spring bloomers that look good all season, with their delicate swaying branches. They look best when given a prominent spot of their own, to spread out in. There are dwarf varieties that only grow about 8 to 10 ft. tall and larger varieties that can reach 40 ft. over time.
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Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
Witch hazel trees have shaggy citrus-scented blossoms in rich shades of yellow, orange, and red. There are several excellent species and varieties. Some bloom in late winter, before the leaves open, and others put on their show in fall. These are small trees, averaging 10 to 20 ft. in height, and very low maintenance.