The Best Small Trees for Tiny Yards

03/30/2023 | Ken Davis Evergreen Trees, In the Garden, Landscaping, Trees

By Ken Lain, the mountain gardener

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Magnolia in pink bloom

We don’t all have room for a mighty Maple or the outstretched branches of a native Sycamore in our backyard. After this article, you will have the fantastic few that outshine the rest in today’s modern yard. Whether you are looking for shade or springs bright colors in your yard, these trees mature below 25 feet and require minimal maintenance to look great. Here are small trees ideal for spring landscapes in tight spaces.

Insider Tip – If you have a small yard, focus on vertical space—select plants with an upright growing habit. Also, garden in hanging baskets raised beds, and containers to maximize your ground space. 8 Colorful Plants for Hanging Baskets

Alberta Spruce Picea Glauca in the Landscape

Alberta Spruce (Piece Glauca) Watters Garden Center has many evergreens that make stunning specimen in the yard, but this is #1. The needles are very dense, and it retains a perfect pyramidal shape without pruning. Growing only 3″ per year, this slow grower is perfectly grown in containers and raised garden beds.

Chaste Tree Vitex in the garden

Chaste Tree (Vitex) really grows more like a giant, multi-trunk shrub than a tree, but super easy to grow up to 15′ feet tall. The long clusters of fragrant blue flowers make this tree enticing for both people and butterflies. Often compared to the butterfly bush but blooms later and repeat bloom again if you deadhead it (remove spent flowers).

Crabapple Malus in the landscape

Crabapple (Malus) – Even the smallest yards have room for a crabapple tree. Crabapples typically top at maturity around 12-15′ feet tall. They provide a month of spring flowers that attract native pollinators, including honeybees. The flowers are followed by dangling clusters of fruits that are popular with birds.

Eastern Redbud Cercis blooming in the landscape

Eastern Redbud (Cercis) burst into flower in early spring. A dozen varieties can be found here at Watters Garden Center, but most flowers are a hot pink more than red. Popular with early butterflies, the Eastern Redbud averages 15-20′ feet in height.

Gold Chain Tree Laburnum in a yard

Golden Chain Tree (Laburnum) – has a distinctive green bark. The clover-like leaves allow the dappled sun to breakthrough, but the long clusters of brilliant yellow flowers make this tree a showstopper. This tree blooms in late spring and grows 15-20′ feet tall.

Japanese Maple Acer Palmatum in a Large Container

Japanese Maple (Acer Palmatum) are beloved for their delicate leaves, to the point of being fringed. There are green and red leaf varieties that turn eye-catching shades of red, orange, and purple in the fall. Their average mature height is 15′ feet tall and prefers the shady spots in the Arizona landscape. Order online at, and order early for the best selection.

Mimosa Albizia in bloom in the landscape

Mimosa (Albizia) has a very tropical appearance with sweeping, fern-like leaves. Silt tassel tree is the common name to the fast grower for the fragrance and thread-like flowers. Hummingbirds and Monarch butterflies fall in love with this 20′ tree every time.

Paper Bark Birch Betula along a path

Paper Bark Birch (Betula) tends to grow in multi-trunk clumps like aspen. The name comes from the paper white bark that flakes and peels from the trunk as an added attraction. Old trees reach 40 feet tall, but they have a narrow spread at their base, and their canopy allows dappled sunlight to pass through into small yards.

Saucer Magnolia Blossom

Saucer Magnolia – The fragrant purple to white flowers of this tree appears before the leaves unfurl in the spring. The flowers are 10 inches across, thusly named ‘saucer.’ Saucer magnolias need initial shaping at first planting but never grow over 20′ feet tall.

Serviceberry Amelanchier in bloom along a roadway

Serviceberry (Amelanchier) is an early spring bloomer in white related to the rose family of plants. Like crabapples and rose hips, the fruits are edible but tart, and they are very popular with birds. Watters offers several varieties of serviceberry that make excellent landscape plants no more than 20′ tall.

Weeping Cherry Prunus blooming along a picket fence

Weeping Cherry (Prunus) are covered in flowers from their crown to the tips brushing the ground. These are spring bloomers that look best when given a prominent spot where they can truly show off. Pruning typically isn’t necessary outside of removing dead, damaged, or diseased portions.

Until next week, I’ll be helping locals choose the perfect tiny tree for their small yard here at Watters Garden Center.

Throughout the week, Ken Lain can be found at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his website at or