Small Trees for Landscaping

Across the nation we are seeing more and more people move to the city.  Never in our history have we seen as many urban dwellers as we do now.  This fact is changing many things, but as far as landscape design goes we are seeing people design for smaller yards or incorporating trees in their garden.  Lets look at some great small trees that you can use at your home.

Super Small Trees (Under 10′ Tall) 

The sargent crabapple ranges in growth from 6′ to 10′ it is a late spring bloomer that has pink buds that open to white blossoms.  In addition to the great spring time flowers this tree adds color to your landscape in the Fall and Winter.  It really is a top notch small tree.

The Ann Magnolia is a selection that came out of the US National Arboretum’s breeding program in the mid-50’s as part of the “Little Girl” series.  The breeding program is still going strong and still coming out with impressive new trees and shrubs.  The Ann Magnolia has a really cool flower that resembles a purple tulip.  With this 8′ to 10′ flowering tree you sometimes get a bonus bloom where it blossoms again.  

Personal Favorites

Kousa Dogwood.  I recently purchased a Kousa Dogwood, I like the fact that it is 4 season tree adding ornamental value in all 4 seasons.  The late blooming flowers can help extend the spring flowering trees season if you coordinate it right with other trees in your yard.  It also is cold hardy for a flowering dogwood make this tree a good choice for colder zones.  At 15′ to 25′ tall at maturity this at the upper end of what I consider a small tree, but it is good fit for many yards.

Another great ornamental flowering tree is the Downy Serviceberry.  This small “tree” is really a large shrub that can be trained into a single trunk tree.  The combination of flowers, brilliant fall color, and wildlife value will add lots of visual enjoyment to your yard.  Again at 15′ to 25′ tall at maturity it is at the upper end of a small tree but it really is a wonderful little tree.

As far as small conifers my favorite by far is the Emerald Arborvitae.  Adding a conifer to landscape adds green to your landscape all year round.  In Nebraska and other 4 season states having some green in the winter is much needed.  I like the Emerald Arborvitaes short and narrow form that it can hold with little or no maintenance.  Also the fact that it can be used for a privacy screen or a hedge is a nice added bonus.  This Arborvitae ranges in size from 10′ to 15′ so it is a nice size for almost any location in yard.

List of Small Trees

Here is a list small trees some are “trees” meaning that they are really shrubs but you can train them to be a single trunk so they look like trees. All of the trees on this list of small trees available at Arbor Day’s Tree Nursery

Sargent Crabapple 6′ 10′
Purpleleaf Sand Cherry 7′  10′
Ann Magnolia 8′ 10′
American Mountainash 10′ 30′
Emerald Arborvitae 10′ 15′
Pee Gee Hydrangea 10′ 20′
Jane Magnolia 10′ 15′
Sweetbay Magnolia 10′ 20′
Smoke Tree 10′  15′
Japanese Red Maple 15′ 25′
Prairefire Flowering Crab 15′ 20′
Star Magnolia 15′ 20′
Downy Serviceberry 15′ 25′
Tatarian Maple 15′ 20′
Red Cloud Dogwood 15′ 20′
Fosters Holly 15′ 25′
Centennial Star Magnolia 15′ 25′
Kousa Dogwood 15′  25′
Mugo Pine 20′ 25′
White Dogwood 20′ 25′
Red Dogwood 20′ 25′
Pink Dogwood 20′ 25′

Ben is an employee of the Arbor Day Foundation. My favorite types of trees are flowering trees and my favorite tree is the Japanese Red Maple.


  1. A lawn is beautiful, but if you surround your lawn with beds of flowers, trees, attractive plants and shrubs and with a number of trees for shade, it turns into a stunning landscape.
    garden design sydney

  2. Fantastic! I love being able to see the photos of trees suggested. It gives us so many ideas as to what they would like like in our yard. We are working on the front yard of our 1926 bungalow and can’t wait to plant something! The tree listing has been the most helpful – thank you.


  3. im trying to find out witch tree to plant beside each other,i want the colors to look good? i have 2 sargent crabapple 2 eastern redbud 2 washington hawthorn 2 white flowering dogwood 2 golden raintrees and 1 crapemyrtle, im trying to box in my whole yard, but seperate the colors, can you help me? thank you mrs.thomas

  4. Thank you for those recommendations. I live on a 60-65ft x 465ft lot. Most of the lots in the neighborhood are approximately the same. My lot is cleared out to approximately 1/3 of the lot, I have many electrical wires that run to my house and they hang LOW…I’m trying to choose small trees and shrubs to avoid interfering with the power company, as well as trying to keep my trees from becoming nuisances and growing into my neighbors yards. Currently, my next door neighbor had an ugly hedgerow of weeds, volunteer trees and the like- plus an enormous OLD pin oak that keeps dropping branches on my side of the area. I’m not sure what to do about making him take responsibility to cut down the tree. It’s old and an arbor master took a look and said that the tree is dangerous to my house’s integrity.

  5. @Helga
    I hope you find a tree that works. Your neighbor sounds like my neighbor with a row of volunteer trees.

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