Small Trees For Small Spaces

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Perennials may be the backbone of garden beds, but trees should be considered the backbone of the entire garden.

Unfortunately, as garden sizes continue to shrink, few have space for large and towering trees in their backyards. That doesn’t mean you should give up on your tree growing dreams – small trees are the solution.

Small tree options:

Buddleja saligna (false olive)

This small, fast-growing evergreen tree can reach a height of 3 – 5 meters, making it ideal for small gardens or large pots. The dense canopy of narrow, grayish-green leaves, resemble an olive tree and it also produces small white flowers that attract butterflies and other pollinators. This drought-tolerant and low-maintenance tree is perfect for urban gardens.

Dais cotinifolia (pompon tree)

The popular pompon tree is deciduous, reaching around 4 – 6 meters in height. It is most well-known for its spectacular display of fluffy pink-purple flowers that bloom in clusters from spring to early summer. In small gardens, it creates a focal point without taking up too much space.

Dombeya rotundifolia (wild pear)

This small, deciduous tree grows to a height of 4 – 6 meters and produces masses of fragrant, white flowers that hang in clusters, resembling a pear tree (hence the name). It provides a beautiful display in spring and its compact size doesn’t take up much space, filling your garden with scent.

Halleria lucida (tree fuchsia)

This evergreen tree grows up to 4 – 6 meters tall. The tubular red-orange flowers are a favourite of birds, adding life and colour to your garden. The tree fuchsia is also adaptable to various soil types and can tolerate some frost, making it versatile in the garden.

Heteropyxis natalensis (lavender tree)

The lavender tree is a semi-deciduous tree that reaches a height of 4 – 7 meters – on the larger side of the small tree group. It has attractive bark and produces clusters of fragrant, lavenderlike flowers.

Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’

A compact, evergreen tree with gorgeous blooms, the ‘Little Gem’ magnolia is a garden favourite. It features large, glossy, dark green leaves and produces fragrant, creamywhite flowers that bloom from spring to summer. This is a great option for magnolia lovers that don’t have space for the other towering varieties.

Bolusanthus speciosus (tree wisteria)

The tree wisteria is a small, deciduous tree that grows to just over 5m. It is grown for its hanging clusters of fragrant, blue-violet flowers that resemble wisteria vines. If you’re looking for a show-stopping small tree for your small garden, this is the one to choose.


Citrus trees are great edible options that are useful in the garden and the kitchen, reaching a height of 3 – 6 meters. They are popular choices for pots and small gardens – a great way to grow fruits in urban spaces. With proper care and pruning, these trees can be kept to a manageable size, thriving and producing plenty of fruits in containers and in the garden.

The Gardener