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39 Small Trees (Under 30 Feet) for a Small Yard or Garden

Dolores has landscaped for private clients, maintained one client's small orchid collection, and keeps 30 houseplants.

Small flowering or evergreen trees beautify a boring landscape.

Small flowering or evergreen trees beautify a boring landscape.

Every neighborhood needs some trees, and every garden or landscape needs a tree or two. Trees take in carbon dioxide and provide us with oxygen, cleaning and freshening the air around us. They soften the sharp edges of buildings and lend curves to the straight lines man has imposed on our view. Even a small tree creates some shade. The dense layered shade created by the overlapping leaves and boughs of trees is much cooler than, say, an awning.

Just because you have a small yard does not mean that you cannot have a tree. Not all trees are 70-footers, and many tall shrubs can be used like trees or be pruned into a tree-like growth habit.

Below is a selection of small trees and tall shrubs to make your garden, yard, or landscape beautiful. Note that zone numbers refer to the USDA hardiness zones of the continental U.S., which show how cold your area gets in the winter.

The Best Small Trees Suitable for a Small Yard

Tree NameMature Height (feet)Mature Spread (feet)Dwarf Height (feet)USDA Hardiness Zone

Apple

20

20

8 to 10

4

Almond

12 to 15

10 to 15

4 to 5

4 to 8

Chaste

10 to 20

10 to 15

3 to 4

7 to 9

Cherry

12 to 15

12 to 15

8 to 10

2 to 8

Cherry Laurel

30

15

3 to 4

7 to 8

Crabapple

20

15

5 to 10

4 to 8

Crape Myrtle

15 to 30

15 to 25

3 to 4

6 to10

Dogwood

10 to 25

20 to 25

4 to 6

3 to 8

Franklin Tree

10 to 25

10 to 15

not available

5 to 8

Chinese Fringe Tree

12 to 20

12 to 20

This is the dwarf variety

4 to 9

Green Hawthorn

30

20 to 30

4

4 to 7

Hornbeam

20 to 30

20

5 to 10

3 to 9

Panicle Hydrangea

10 to 25

8 to 16

3 to 5

3 to 8

Juniper

10 to 15

3 to 5

1

4 to 9 (depending on variety)

Japanese Snowbell

20 to 30

20 to 30

8 to 10

6 to 8

Laburnum (Golden Chain Tree)

15 to 25

9 to 12

3 to 4

5 to 7

Lemon Tree

10 to 20

5 to 10

4 to 5

9 to 11

Lilac

8 to 15

6 to 15

4 to 6

3 to 7

Mountain Stewartia

10 to 15

10 to 15

10

5 to 9

Magnolia

10 to 30 (depending on variety)

10 to 30

These are ranges for dwarf varieties

4 to 9 (depending on variety)

Japanese Red Maple

15 to 25

20

2 to 3

5 to 8

Mimosa or Silk Tree

20 to 30

20 to 30

not available

6 to 9

Pawpaw

15 to 30

15 to 30

4 to 8

5 to 8

Peach

15 to 25

15 to 25

8 to 10

5 to 9

Bartlett Pear

20 to 30

20

10 to 15

5 to 7

Japanese Black Pine

25 to 30

20 to 35

4

5 to 9

Cherry Plum

15 to 25

20

8 to 10

3 to 8

Eastern Redbud

20 to 30

26 to 33

12 to 15

4 to 9

Quince

6 to 10

6 to 10

3

4 to 8

Serviceberry (a.k.a. Juneberry)

15 to 25

15 to 20

10

4 to 9

Carolina Silverbell

15 to 30

15 to 30

not available

4 to 8

Scarlet Buckeye

10 to 20

10 to 20

This is the dwarf variety

6 to 9

Russian Olive

15 to 20

15 to 20

not available

2 to 7

Smoketree

10 to 15

8 to 14

4

4 to 8

Sourwood

25 to 30

20

not available

5 to 9

Conica Spruce

10 to 12

4 to 5

6 to 8

2 to 7

Japanese Stewartia

15 to 30

20 to 25

not available

5 to 8

Sweet Olive

10 to 12

8

4 to 6

8 to 10

Tea Tree

20

20

2

8 to 11

Apple tree

Apple tree

1. Apple

Mature Height: 20 feet

Dwarf Height: 8 to 10 feet

Zone: 4

Apple trees usually grow up to 20 feet tall while dwarf varieties grow 8 ft. to 10 ft. tall. Many varieties are available, all producing beautiful early spring blossoms. Although some varieties are self-pollinating, it helps to have several other apple trees nearby to be able to produce fruit. You should plant while dormant in full sun and in slightly acidic soil. Most types of apple will fruit in three to five years. Ask your local nursery to find the variety of apple tree best suited to your area.

Almond tree

Almond tree

2. Flowering Almond

Mature Height: 12 to 15 feet

Dwarf Height: 4 to 5 feet

Zones: 4–8

The flowering almond is a small tree or large shrub that grows 12 ft. to 15 ft. tall and is equally wide with a rounded crown. Pink or white flowers bloom in early spring before the leaves emerge. Plant in full sun or partial shade in moist, rich, acidic soil. If you want to prune for shaping, do so right after flowering. Some pruning will increase next season's flowers.

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Chaste Tree

Chaste Tree

3. Chaste Tree

Mature Height: 10 to 20 feet

Dwarf Height: 3 to 4 feet

Zones: 7–9

The chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) grows to 10 ft. or 20 ft. tall and produces lavender-purple flowers in early or mid-spring. The flowers give off a spicy aroma and the leaves smell faintly of sage. Shaping by pruning may be necessary. It grows best in well-drained soil. Flowers emerge from new shoots, so prune lightly at the end of winter.

Cherry tree

Cherry tree

4. Cherry

Mature Height: 12 to 30 feet (depending on variety)

Dwarf Height: 8 to 10 feet

Zones: 2–8 (depending on variety)

Some flowering cherry trees can grow to be quite tall, so check your local gardening center for a smaller variety. Snow Fountain grows up to 12 ft. tall, while Sargent Cherry grows 20–30 ft. tall. Plant in full sun, in moist, well-drained soil. Weeping forms are also available.

Cherry laurel

Cherry laurel

5. Cherry Laurel

Mature Height: 30 feet

Dwarf Height: 3 to 4 feet

Zones: 7–8

Cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) is an evergreen cherry tree with deep green leaves and fragrant white flowers. It grows up to 30 ft. tall. Flowers bloom mid-spring and the tree produces dark berries. Plant in full sun in cool areas, or partial shade in warmer areas, in moist, well-drained soil.

Crabapple trees

Crabapple trees

6. Crabapple

Mature Height: 20 feet

Dwarf Height: 5 to 10 feet

Zones: 4–8

The crabapple produces abundant, beautiful flowers in white, pink, or red and blooms mid-spring. They produce hard little fruits that some people find attractive but others may feel are a nuisance when they fall. These slow-growing trees rarely reach over 20 ft. tall, while dwarf varieties grow between 8 ft. and 15 ft. tall. Crabapples are self-pollinating, so they will fruit even if you only plant one. Plant in full sun in well-drained soil.

7. Crape Myrtle

Mature Height: 15 to 30 feet

Dwarf Height: 3 to 4 feet

Zones: 6–10

The Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia) is a tall, beautiful shrub that can stand in as a small tree. It blooms in mid- to late-summer with long-lasting white, pink, red, or lavender blooms. Planting in shade or semi-shade may reduce the amount of blooms. The foliage turns yellow, orange, or red in fall. Attractive exfoliating, patchy bark creates interest in winter. Prune away low-growing branches to create the look of a tree.

Avoid the Langerstroemia speciosa variety—it's gigantic. In the South, some Crape Myrtles will grow larger than expected.

If you want the type that features the most dramatic exfoliating bark look for "Natchez" with its beautiful cinnamon and cream bark, or "Apache" or "Choctaw" with cinnamon and brown bark.

Kousa dogwood

Kousa dogwood

8. Dogwood

There are two types of dogwood that are small and manageable:

Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa) is a small, cold-tolerant variety that reaches 20 to 30 ft. tall. Flowers range from creamy white to pink. Red fruits appear in fall. (Zone 5–8)

Red osier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera or sericea) is a shrubby species that grows 7–9 ft. tall. Red stems provide winter interest when young, but older branches fade to gray. (Zone 3–8)

Franklin tree

Franklin tree

9. Franklin Tree

Mature Height: 10 to 25 feet

Zones: 5–8

The Franklin tree (Franklinia), named after Benjamin Franklin, should not be grown in its native home in the southeastern United States due to a root disease that makes the tree short-lived in that area. Franklin trees grow from 10 to 25 ft. tall and 6 to 15 ft. wide, producing large, fragrant white flowers. They prefer full sun and moist, well-drained, acidic soil.

Chinese fringe tree

Chinese fringe tree

10. Chinese Fringe Tree

Mature Height: 12 to 20 feet

Zones: 4–9

The fringe tree (Chionanthus) grows from 12 to 20 ft. tall with a broad, rounded form and produces white, fragrant, lacy flowers in spring. Fruit on female trees attracts birds. Plant in full sun to partial shade in moist, well-drained soil. If you must prune to shape, do so right after flowering as the blooms form on the older growth. Tolerant of wind and pollution.

Winter green hawthorn

Winter green hawthorn

11. Green Hawthorn

Mature Height: 15 to 30 feet

Dwarf Height: 4 feet

Zones: 4–7

Winter King green hawthorn (Crataegus viridis "Winter King") is an attractive deciduous tree with grayish-green bark that may exfoliate on mature specimens. It grows 15 to 30 feet tall with a similar spread, and is drought-tolerant and resistant to disease, including verticillium Aromatic white flowers appear in spring, and red berries add interest in winter although some people do not like their smell. This variety is thornless despite its name.

Do not plant this tree if there is a cedar or juniper nearby because cedar-hawthorn rust needs both a cedar or juniper and a hawthorn to complete its life cycle. This disease can devastate both trees.

Hornbeam

Hornbeam

12. Hornbeam

Mature Height: 20 to 30 feet

Dwarf Height: 5 to 10 feet

Zones: 3–9

American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana), also called ironwood, grows 20 to 30 ft. tall and has beautiful deep-green leaves that turn from yellow to red in fall. Plant in full sun to partial shade in acidic, moist, well-drained soil, and prune in late winter.

13. Panicle Hydrangea

Mature Height: 10 to 25 feet

Dwarf Height: 3 to 5 feet

Zones: 3–8

Hydrangeas are beautiful flowering shrubs, and panicle hydrangeas can work as small trees, growing up to 25 feet tall and wide. They produce tiny flowers that grow in large clusters, which start out white in July and then turn a dusty rose as summer progresses. This hardy shrub should be planted in sun to partial shade in rich, moist, well-drained soil.

Japanese snowbell

Japanese snowbell

14. Japanese Snowbell

Mature Height: 20 to 30 feet

Dwarf Height: 8 to 10 feet

Zones: 6–8

The Japanese Snowbell is a deciduous tree with horizontal branches that boasts drooping white, bell-like flowers. The leaves turn yellow during fall, and the flowers emit a sweet fragrance. It makes for a gorgeous ornamental tree.

Hollywood Juniper

Hollywood Juniper

15. Juniper

Mature Height: 10 to 15 feet

Dwarf Height: 1 foot

Zones: 4–9 (depending on variety)

All junipers are evergreen with tiny, scale-like foliage. They produce small, hard, blue to blue-green berries with a fresh scent.

Hollywood juniper grows from 10 to 15 feet tall in full sun or partial shade in a unique, twisting form. It is a drought-tolerant, low-maintenance, hardy shrub that can stand in as a tree. Hollywood juniper takes well to pruning for shape and can be planted closer to walls than other trees and large shrubs for an interesting effect (Zones 5–9).

Skyrocket juniper grows 10 to 15 feet tall in a narrow column with dusty blue-green foliage. It is drought-resistant and maintenance-free (Zones 4 - 7).

Golden Chain Tree

Golden Chain Tree

16. Laburnum (Golden Chain Tree)

Mature Height: 15 to 25 feet

Dwarf Height: 3 to 4 feet

Zones: 5–7

This gorgeous tree produces cascading clusters of bright-yellow pea flowers that are unfortunately short-lived. Interestingly, all parts of the tree are poisonous, although mortality rate is low.

Lemon tree

Lemon tree

17. Lemon Tree

Mature Height: 10 to 20 feet

Dwarf Height: 8 to 10

Zones: 9–11

This is a tree that is often found in many backyards. The lemon tree has fragrant flowers and leaves, and of course, provide fresh fruit that can be used in a vast variety of dishes and drinks. Miniature lemon trees can be grown in pots and will not reach a height over 10 feet if pruned.

18. Lilac

Mature Height: 8 to 15 feet

Dwarf Height: 4 to 6 feet

Zones: 3–7

Lilac is a large shrub with showy, highly aromatic spring blooms. Flowers may be white or shades of pink, purple, lavender, and lilac. The leaves are susceptible to powdery mildew in hot, humid summers. Plant in full sun in well-drained soil. Prune to remove unwanted or dead twigs and branches.

Star magnolia

Star magnolia

19. Magnolia

Mature Height: 10 to 30 feet (depending on variety)

Zones: 4–9 (depending on variety)

Star magnolia is a smaller variety of magnolia that produces beautiful, white, star-shaped flowers in early spring. The flowers are fragrant and long lasting. This variety grows up to 20 feet tall with similar spread. It is also cold and heat tolerant. Plant in full sun to partial shade in moist, well-drained soil (Zones 4–8).

Saucer magnolia grows 20 to 30 feet tall and 20 feet wide, producing large pinkish-purple flowers in early spring. Plant this cold-hardy magnolia in a sheltered area in full sun and moist, well-drained soil (Zones 5–9).

Sweet bay magnolia grows 10 to 20 feet tall with a shrubby growth habit, producing fragrant, creamy white flowers in late spring. It is evergreen in warmer areas but deciduous in colder ones (Zones 5–9).

Japanese red maple

Japanese red maple

20. Japanese Red Maple

Mature Height: 15 to 25 feet

Dwarf Height: 2 to 3 feet