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The Best Small Trees to Plant in your Yard

Updated on February 26, 2013
Magnolia Tree in South Devon College Grounds
Magnolia Tree in South Devon College Grounds | Source

There are many reasons why gardeners and non- gardeners alike love and value trees and are eager to plant them in their properties, regardless of the size of their land. Trees provide food (fruits), shelter, shade, cleaner air, beauty, and everything else; but most importantly trees are one of the most beautiful representations of Nature, they carry deep symbolism, nourish our souls, and ease our minds.

I would like to talk about the dilemma of having a relatively small yard and yearning to plant one, two, or several trees. What type of tree should you plant? This is a very individual decision, depending on how much land you want to advocate to trees.

For example, I have a small to medium size back yard and I managed to plant two Weeping Willows, several Bottle Brushes, several Palm Trees, a Little Gem Magnolia, two Crape Myrtles, and my latest acquisitions, a White Orchid Tree, and a Cassia Tree. It is true that my backyard is beginning to look like a small forest, but I don’t mind that. I was able to plant so many trees because they are all small trees, with the exception of the Willows.

Magnolia Tree Flower
Magnolia Tree Flower | Source

A great choice for southern gardeners is the popular Little Gem Magnolia tree. This evergreen tree, unlike the Southern Magnolia, does not grow more the 25 feet. It has a conical shape tall and narrow so it doesn’t take a lot of room in your garden. It bears the same large fragrant white flowers as the big varieties in the spring and summer.

Scientific name: Magnolia grandiflora
Common name(s): 'Little Gem' Southern Magnolia
Family: Magnoliaceae
USDA hardiness zones: 7A through 10A (Fig. 2)
Origin: native to North America

Red Bottlebrush Tree in Florida
Red Bottlebrush Tree in Florida | Source

Another favorite of mine is the Bottlebrush tree, which can only reach 15-25 feet. This tree derives its name from the shape of its flowers that resemble a baby’s bottle brush. The flowers can be red, yellow, purple, and green, and they attract nectar loving birds and bees. This evergreen tree blooms continuously from Spring through Summer.

Scientific name: Callistemon
Common name(s): Bottlebrush Tree
Family: Myrtacea
USDA hardiness zones: 5 to 9
Origin: native to Australia

Pink Crape Myrtle Flower
Pink Crape Myrtle Flower | Source

Every garden deserves the color and beauty of a Crape Myrtle tree. This is a southern favorite that features large clusters of showy flowers that come in many different colors. There are many varieties of Crape Myrtle trees, some larger than others, but in general they should not get any larger than 25ft. You can always trim them down every year which is actually beneficial for the tree.

Scientific Name:Lagerstroemia Indica Common Name: Crape Myrtle Family:Lythraceae USDA Hardiness Zones: 4 to 9 Origin: Native to Asia

Crape Myrtles put on a display of vibrant flowers that last 120 days. Note the beautiful white Crape Myrlte in full bloom in a cementary in NY.

Powderpuff Tree Flower
Powderpuff Tree Flower | Source

A charming and easy to grow small tree is the Powder Puff tree. This is really a large evergreen tropical shrub that can be trained as a tree. The beauty of the Powder Puff is that it flowers in the fall and winter in the South, and the shape of the flowers really resemble a powder puff.

Scientific Name: Callistemon Common Name: Bottlebrush Tree Family: Myrtaceae USDA Hardiness zones: 5b: to -26.1 °C (-15 °F) Origin: native to Australia

Oil Painting by Russian Artist: Simon Kozhin
Oil Painting by Russian Artist: Simon Kozhin | Source

There are many varieties of trees to choose from when it comes to planting a tree in a small yard. The selections I have mentioned are all flowering ornamental trees which add so much to a landscape. But the use of fruit trees is also an option, as some of these tend to be in the smaller size.

I hope this article inspires you to go out and plant a tree in your landscape, you will be rewarded every season with wildlife, shade, and beautiful blooms.


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      Mario R. Pijuan 5 years ago

      Excellent! Very interesting article. My wife and I are always looking for this kind of trees. Thank you very much for your information!