Best Trees to Plant in Small Garden

Small garden

Planting a tree is an extremely worthwhile act as trees not only provide aesthetic appeal but also contribute to the ecosystem, offering shade, shelter and even food for local wildlife. 

However, when it comes to landscaping a small garden, selecting the perfect trees can be an important decision. 

In this guide, we’ll explore different categories of trees suitable for small gardens, including small fruit trees, trees beneficial for wildlife and compact evergreens. 

We’ll also provide examples and insights to help you make the best choice for your space.

Small Trees For Small Gardens: An Overview

The definition of a small garden can vary depending on where you live, and what you personally constitute as a limited outdoor space. Though, this commonly includes the likes of balcony gardens, courtyard gardens and front gardens that are on the petite size. 

Whatever can best describe your small garden, the thing to think about when selecting a tree is not what the tree looks like now, rather its eventual height and spread in years to come. 

Crucially, you can still plant a tree in a small garden. But by selecting a variety that will complement rather than overwhelm the space, and one that can also be managed by regular pruning, the benefits of planting a tree can be fully realised. 

Small Fruit Trees

A great place to start is with suitable small fruit trees for a small garden, which will provide beauty as well as a delicious treat to enjoy. 

In particular, for those with limited garden space but a desire for fresh, homegrown produce, small fruit trees offer a delightful solution. These trees typically have a compact growth habit, making them suitable for container gardening or small plots. 

One excellent example of small garden trees is the dwarf apple tree (Malus domestica). Varieties such as ‘Pixie Crunch’ or ‘Urban Columnar’ are also ideal for small gardens, reaching heights of around 6 to 8 feet and producing an abundance of delicious fruit. 

apple tree
apple tree

Another option is the compact cherry tree (Prunus avium), with varieties like ‘Stella’ or ‘Compact Stella’ offering tasty cherries on a tree that stays manageable in size. 

compact cherry tree

When selecting small fruit trees, consider factors such as pollination requirements, sunlight needs and the climate of your region to ensure optimal growth and fruit production.

Small Trees for Wildlife

Creating a haven for wildlife in your garden is not only rewarding but also essential for biodiversity conservation. Small trees that offer food, shelter and nesting sites can attract a variety of birds, insects and other creatures, enriching the ecosystem of your outdoor space. 

One exemplary choice is the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida). This native tree provides nectar for pollinators, berries for birds and dense foliage for nesting, all while staying relatively compact. 

flowering dogwood

Similarly, the crabapple (Malus spp.) is another fantastic option, attracting birds with its colourful fruits and providing cover for small mammals. 


When selecting trees for wildlife, prioritise native species, as they are better adapted to support local fauna and require less maintenance.

Small Evergreen Trees

For year-round interest and structure in your garden, consider incorporating small evergreen trees. Evergreen trees for small gardens offer the benefit of maintaining their foliage throughout the year, providing greenery and texture even in the depths of winter. 

One popular choice is the Japanese maple (Acer palmatum), known for its stunning foliage and compact size. Varieties like ‘Bloodgood’ or ‘Sango Kaku’ bring beauty to small gardens without overwhelming the space. Another option is the dwarf Alberta spruce (Picea glauca ‘Conica’), a slow-growing evergreen with a pyramidal shape that adds a touch of elegance to any landscape. 

Japanese maple

When selecting small evergreen trees for small gardens, pay attention to their growth rate and ultimate size to ensure they remain proportionate to your garden space and don’t overshadow other plants.

Also ask your tree care specialist about tree training techniques such as pleaching which can also restrict the height and spread of a tree within a small space. 

Planting A Tree In Small Garden FAQs

We’ve answered some of the top questions about the best trees to plant in a small garden below. But for anything else, our Manchester-based tree experts would be more than happy to help if you’re within our local catchment area. 

What Are The Best Small Garden Trees For Wildlife?

Wildlife are attracted to trees that can provide them either with food or shelter. 

Along with our examples above such as crabapple, other varieties include Rowan (sorbus aucuparia), Holly (Ilex aquifolium), Spindle (Euonymus europaeus) and Alder buckthorn (Frangula alnus).

Lots of different varieties exist within each species, so be sure to check the eventual height and spread before you purchase and plant the tree. 

What Are The Best Trees For Pots?

According to Gardeners’ World, some of the best ideas for small trees in a pot include varieties such as Apple (Malus domestica), Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida f. rubra), Italian cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) and Snowy mespilus (Amelanchier lamarckii).

Choosing The Best Trees For Small Gardens: Conclusion

In conclusion, selecting the right trees for a small garden involves careful consideration of size, function and aesthetic appeal. Whether you’re craving homegrown fruit, aiming to support local wildlife, or seeking year-round greenery, there are plenty of options available to suit your needs. By choosing wisely and understanding the requirements of each tree species, you can create a harmonious and inviting outdoor space that brings joy and beauty throughout the seasons.

Scott Davies Tree Surgery – Tree Planting & Pruning Services Manchester 

Thinking of planting a tree in a small garden, or need help maintaining an existing tree? 

When you contact us here at Scott Davies Tree Surgery, the garden to match your beautiful home is only a message or a quick phone call away. 

Give us a call on 07853 582 444 or fill out our contact form and we’ll be right with you. 

Our services cover Manchester and a 35 mile radius of our business address including Bolton, Salford and Bromley Cross areas. Please see the map below for further details.