In your backyard, it’s not always the best decision to go for a mighty oak or a tall pine, but there are plenty of small trees that you can plant that won’t take over your space.
Planting trees is also one of the small ways that you can help to reduce your own carbon footprint.
Man has destroyed 46% of the world’s forests and the devastation that this has had on the atmosphere is insurmountable. Let's fix that by planting the best small trees to help in this endeavor.
The only way to combat this is simply by planting more trees. If every person on the planet planted just one solitary tree, then together we can help improve the air that we breathe.
Best Small Trees For Shady backyards
There are not many trees that will thrive in shady conditions, but even if you have limited sunlight, there are still some varieties that will look beautiful in your backyard.
You can design your landscape around these shade-loving trees that are both sculptural and delicate.
They will give your space a natural feel. Portland landscape design experts recommend Japanese maples for medium shade - they can be kept in pots if you don’t want to dig, but they will need regular watering and don’t like windy conditions.
The Staghorn Sumac is another good small tree for a shady area - in fall the foliage will turn to fiery orange and red - simply beautiful.
Ornamental Fruit Trees for Blossom
There are many ornamental fruit trees that are small enough to grow in the backyard. In spring they will produce pink and white blossoms that attract bees and butterflies to your garden.
Ornamental cherries are a good option and the flowers will last for several weeks in May. The humble crab apple tree is another small tree that will produce beautiful blossoms in the springtime.
The apples themselves are generally too bitter to eat (unless you cook them with copious amounts of sugar), but they will attract plenty of insects.
For truly spectacular blossoms, try a small variety of the Magnolia tree like the Sayonara or the Alexandrina.
Fantastic Dwarf and Miniature Fruit Trees
Dwarf and miniature fruit trees have become increasingly popular for both amateur gardeners and commercial growers because the small trees are simple to look after and far easier to harvest.
The smaller trees are no less productive - in fact they come into fruit quicker than their larger counterparts.
It may take an ordinary rootstock tree 3-4 years to come into fruit, but if with a dwarf variety you will see fruit within a year or two.
Many fruit trees, particularly the mediterranean citrus fruits, like lemons and mandarins, will be happy in a large terracotta pot on your patio - just make sure that they get plenty of sunshine and water.
Other fruit trees that are available in dwarf form are peaches, apples, damsons, pears, cherries and even quince.
Planting Trees Espalier
Espalier is an ingenious way of training your trees so that the branches grow horizontally - this is ideal for a backyard and you can even use your trees to create hedging and boundaries instead of ordinary shrubs.
Even if you are in a city, you can plant a tree right against a brick wall and it will thrive, obtaining warmth from the bricks.
Espalier is often used for fruit trees because it helps the fruit to ripen quicker - this is a practice that dates back to Roman times.
Having the branches organised in rows will also make the fruit extremely easy to harvest. You can espalier the majority of tree species, but you will need to start when the tree is young and the branches are pliable.
Make a framework using strong wire for the branches to grow along, cordoning any new growth every few weeks - particularly in the spring and summer months.
Species that lend themselves well to espalier are figs, apples, pears, ginkgo biloba and katsura.
Planting Small Trees for Topiary
Being able to sculpt your small trees will help to keep them to the size that you want. Not all trees lend themselves well to topiary however.
The bay tree is an excellent choice and it’s leaves can be added to soups and stews for extra flavor.
The bay can be trained into spiral, pyramid or lollipop shapes easily, just using a pair of secateurs.
The yew tree (Taxus Baccata) is another classic topiary option and is less prone to blight and caterpillars than the common box.
Look for the Lonicera Nitida or Ilex Crenata varieties which have beautiful glossy, green foliage and will not grow too large.
Wrapping Up Best Small Trees for Your Backyard
Planting the best small trees in your backyard will add small areas of shade, without overwhelming the rest of your planting. Just make sure to feed them well and your garden will look better than ever.
You will not only be creating a special area that you want to spend time in, but also helping to look after the planet.