Let’s face it. Most gardeners aren’t working with an endless amount of space. We have small yards and gardens and a limited amount of time to dedicate to taking care of our outdoor spaces. Small-space gardening is a must for many of us in today’s fast-paced, urban world. All too often big trees are planted in small gardens and yards where they quickly outgrow the space and have to be drastically pruned or removed altogether. Today, I’d like to tell you about some absolutely amazing narrow trees for small gardens. These columnar trees are also perfect for tight spaces, such as the area between your home and driveway, along a fence line, or when planted in a row, they’ll even serve as a privacy shield against nearby neighbors.
The benefits of narrow trees for small gardens
Narrow trees like the ones I’m about to introduce you to are perfect for today’s ever-shrinking landscapes. Their slender growth habit means they don’t take up much horizontal space while still giving the beauty only a tree can give. Yes, some of these varieties grow quite tall, but even in the smallest of gardens, the sky is the limit! More often than not, making use of vertical space is the best way to expand a small garden and add another dimension and layer of interest.
Compact gardens and yards can benefit from these narrow trees in many other ways, too. Not only do they add design flair, but many of these trees for small gardens also produce edible berries, cones, and seeds enjoyed by birds and other urban wildlife. Plus, though only one of the trees on this list has showy blooms, even the small, nondescript flowers of the other trees provide pollen and nectar for pollinators. Plus, the leaves of some of them even serve as caterpillar host plants for several species of butterflies.
Top 10 narrow trees for small gardens
- Ilex crenata ‘Sky Pencil’: This narrow, upright evergreen is a smooth-leaved holly that reaches about 6 feet in height but is only 2 to 3 feet wide. Like other hollies, the male and female plants are separate. The females of this species produce tiny purple berries, but only when a pollinating male plant is nearby. ‘Sky Pencil’ hollies are lovely trees for small gardens, and their evergreen growth habit means they provide winter interest, too. Hardy in zones 5-9. Source.
2. Crimson Spire™ oak (Quercus robur x Q. alba ‘Crimschmidt’): This unique oak tree is very tall — up to 40 feet — but remains fairly narrow at just 15 to 20 feet wide (yes, that’s quite narrow for an oak!). The fall color is exceptional. A stunning tree all around, but an especially valuable tree for small gardens due to its ability to support a wide array of native insects and the songbirds who eat them. Hardy in zones 5-9. Source.
3. Prunus serrulata ‘Amanogawa’: This lovely flowering Japanese cherry is slender and columnar, making it the perfect tree for small yards and gardens where color is desired. It blooms in early spring when the branches are covered in pale pink flowers. The blooms are followed by green leaves that turn a beautiful orange in the autumn. ‘Amanogawa’ will reach 25 feet in height but only 10 feet in width. It’s a seriously beautiful narrow tree. Hardy in zones 5-8. Source.
4. Populus tremula ‘Erecta’: This thin cultivar of the Swedish aspen tree is great for slender garden areas and small yards. It’s very cold hardy and has heart-shaped leaves that move in the wind. Though it’s deciduous and looses its leaves in the winter, this columnar tree’s structure is lovely even without its foliage. Though its width is very limited, it can grow up to 40 feet tall. And, it’s hardy all the way down to zone 2. Source.
5. Betula platyphylla ‘Fargo’: Otherwise known as the Dakota Pinnacle® birch, this columnar tree has leaves that turn a brilliant yellow in the fall and white, peeling bark. It’s also resistant to the bronze birch borer, which is another definite plus. Among the most statuesque of all the columnar trees for small gardens, the Dakota pinnacle birch grows upwards of 25 feet tall at maturity but is only 8 to 10 feet wide. Hardy in zones 3-7. Source.
6. Carpinus betulus ‘Columnaris Nana’: Though hornbeams are fairly rigid, narrow trees to begin with, this variety is even more well-behaved. They’re like perfect garden sculptures that reach only 5 feet tall at full maturity. The slow growth rate of ‘Columnaris Nana’ means it takes a long time for this columnar tree to reach that 6 foot height, which is yet another reason that makes this tree a must on any list of trees for small gardens. Rich, medium green leaves grace the branches; they turn a brilliant yellow in the autumn. Hardy in zones 4-8. Source.
7. Acer palmatum ‘Twombly’s Red Sentinel’: Though most Japanese maples are wide spreading, this cultivar boasts very upright growth, making it one of the best trees for small gardens and tight spaces. The foliage is deep red all season long; even the stems are red. ‘Twombly’s Red Sentinel’ maxes out at 15 feet in height and spreads just 6 feet wide. Hardy in zones 5-8. Source.
8. Liquidamber styraciflua ‘Slender Silhouette’: This beautiful variety of sweetgum, grows upwards of 60 feet tall, but its very tight, short branches mean the plant’s spread is a mere 6 to 8 feet, making it a real standout in the landscape. The red fall color is spectacular, and it’s fairly fast growing. Yes, this sweetgum variety also produces spiky seed balls like other sweetgums, but not huge quantities of them. ‘Slender Silhouette’ is also a larval host plant for many different butterflies and moths. It’s a great narrow tree for a small garden! Hardy in zones 5-8. Source.
9. Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Wissel’s Saguaro’: A slow-growing tree unlike anything else you’ve ever seen, this narrow tree is straight out of a Dr. Seuss book! It’s upright branches look a bit like a saguaro cactus, hence the cultivar’s name. This unique false cypress is evergreen and reaches a height of about 10 feet, with a spread of just 6 to 8 feet. In my opinion, it’s the most unique of all the trees for small gardens. It’s hardy in zones 4-9. Source.
10. Chamaecyparis nootakatensis ‘Vanden Akker’: Skinny is the best word to describe this columnar tree for small yards and gardens. The thinnest of all the weeping Alaska cedars, it reaches 20 feet tall but is only 1 foot wide! That’s right – 1 foot! The tight branches weep while the central trunk grows straight up. This extremely narrow evergreen tree is a truly amazing addition to any compact garden space. Hardy from zones 5-8. Source.
Want more choices? Visit this page for an additional list of: 15 Dwarf Evergreen Trees for Yards and Gardens.
As you can see, small-space gardeners have lots of options when it comes to narrow trees for the landscape. All of these choices add vertical structure and interest, and let’s face it — they look downright fabulous while doing it! Include some of these trees for small gardens in your yard and enjoy everything they offer.
For more on gardening in small spaces, check out our list of recommended books:
Small-space Vegetable Gardens by Andrea Bellamy
Small-space Garden Ideas by Philippa Pierson
The Less is More Garden by Susan Morrison
And for more advice on growing in tight quarters, check out these other posts:
- Trees to create privacy in big and small yards
- Dwarf evergreen shrubs for small yards
- Growing berries in containers
- 3 Small trees for the landscape
- 15 Dwarf Evergreen Trees for Yards and Gardens
- 6 Things to think about before preparing a raised bed garden
- Miniature plants for a miniature garden
Do you have a small yard? Tell us how you bring it to life in the comment section below!
Sky Pencil Holly (ilex crenata 'Sky Pencil') is an amazing evergreen pick if you need a narrow tree in a really tight space. It grows skyward naturally without the need for trimming. At only 2′ wide and 8-10′ high, it's like an exclamation point (!) for your garden.What tree is tall and narrow? ›
The evergreen conifer Norway spruce has a long and narrow columnar to conical habit and it can reach 7.5 feet in height in a matter of a few years. In fact, Norway spruce it is a very fast growing skinny tree, adding up to 12 inches (30 cm) to its height every year.Which tree is best for garden? ›
Popular trees amongst home gardeners include dogwoods, maples, cypresses, cherries, magnolias, birches, crape myrtles, and many more. Use the resources below to determine what types of trees you are attracted to and how to work them into the design of your own garden.What is the name of the small tree? ›
A young tree, then, is known as a sapling.What small tree can be planted close to House? ›
These include willow trees, poplars, cottonwoods, aspens, silver maples, Norway maples, and American elm trees, among others. Smaller trees with shallow roots, however, pose little risk to your home. Japanese maple trees, for instance, are safe to plant relatively close to your house.What is the best tree for blocking view? ›
If you're looking for a massive plant to block out a massive view, white pine is it. Long-needled and soft, white pines survive winters down to -40 degrees F. They max out at 60 feet tall and 30 feet wide. Stately trees that are tolerant of city pollution, white pines are quick growing and bear elongated cones.What is the skinniest evergreen tree? ›
Another of the dwarf narrow evergreen trees is Japanese holly 'Sky Pencil' (Ilex crenata 'Sky Pencil,' hardy in USDA zones 6 through 8). 'Sky Pencil' is extremely slim, spreading only 1 foot wide when up to 6 feet tall, though at 10 feet tall, the tree's diameter is between 2 to 3 feet wide.What kind of evergreen grows tall and narrow? ›
The Hicks yew is a tall, slender evergreen tree with a narrow, columnar habit and glossy, dark green needle leaves. The skinny, columnar evergreen grows 10 to 12 ft. (3 – 3.6 m) tall with a spread of 4 ft (1.2 m). The tree's slender growth makes it ideal for tall hedges, privacy screens, or in containers at a doorway.What trees dont grow too big? ›
- Apple. Mature Height: 20 feet. ...
- Flowering Almond. Mature Height: 12 to 15 feet. ...
- Chaste Tree. Mature Height: 10 to 20 feet. ...
- Cherry. Mature Height: 12 to 30 feet (depending on variety) ...
- Cherry Laurel. Mature Height: 30 feet. ...
- Crabapple. Mature Height: 20 feet. ...
- Crape Myrtle. Mature Height: 15 to 30 feet. ...
- Camelia (prune to desired width)
- Bamboo (choose smaller varieties for easy maintenance)
- Straight and Narrow Lily Pilly (Grows to max 1-1.5m wide)
- Upright Birch (9m tall by 4m wide)
- Magnolia Kay Parris (5m tall by 2-3m wide, clip to keep narrow)
- Cercis Avondale.
- Acer p. ...
- Port wine Magnolia.
- Rhododendron (Ericaceae) ...
- Silk Cotton Trees (Ceiba pentandra) ...
- Southern Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) ...
- Strangler Fig (Ficus) ...
- Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) ...
- Tibetan Cherry Tree (Prunus serrula) ...
- Wisteria (Fabaceae leguminosae) ...
- Yucca (Asparagaceae)
Ornamental trees like Ruby Falls Redbud, Rising Sun Redbud, Double Purple Hibiscus, and Double Red Hibiscus tree stay under 10 feet. For the smallest Dwarf Flowering Trees look to grafted plants like Hydrangea Trees and Rose Trees.What is the easiest tree to maintain? ›
- Japanese Maple. Japanese Maple trees are famous for their bright fall foliage. ...
- Serviceberry. Serviceberry trees are deciduous members of the Rosaceae family. ...
- Crape Myrtle. ...
Temples dedicated to Lord Shiva will also be surrounded by five species of sacred evergreen tree, as detailed in the Puranas: the Amala (Phyllanthus emblica), Banyan (Ficus benghalensis), Bel (Aegle marmelos), Neem (Azadirachta indica), and Pipal (Ficus religiosa).What are the 4 types of trees? ›
Trees are represented in each of the major groups of the vascular plants: pteridophytes (seedless vascular plants that include the tree ferns), gymnosperms (cycads, ginkgoes, and conifers), and angiosperms (flowering plants).What tree has long narrow leaves? ›
Willows (Salix ssp) can be identified by their long, narrow leaves, which have small toothed leaf margins.What is a pretty fast growing tree? ›
Leyland cypress (Cupressus × leylandii) is a bright green conifer widely used for privacy screens because it's such a fast grower. This upwardly mobile tree can grow 3 to 4 feet per year when it's young, eventually topping out at 60 to 70 feet with a 15- to 25-foot spread.What is a quick growing tree? ›
More Quick Growing Trees
Make sure the trees you select are hardy in your area, suited to the growing conditions and will fit the available space once mature. American linden (Tilia americana) Red oak (Quercus rubra) Freeman maple (Acer x freemanii) Sargent cherry (Prunus sargentii)
Some prime examples include Florida maple trees, Pawpaws, English holly, miniature fruit trees, and Chinese pistache trees. These trees generally have shallow roots that don't cause issues underground.Which trees roots grow straight down? ›
Sinker roots are much smaller roots which grow straight down from the lateral root system to find nutrients. Some species of trees, like weeping willows, eastern cottonwood, and golden bamboo, have very aggressive lateral root systems.
To get the most useful shade on the house at a practical distance, place the tree 15 to 20 feet from the house. Small trees may be planted closer than 15 feet, but large trees should be planted 20 feet or more away from the house.What to plant to block out Neighbours? ›
Suitable plants for screening can include hedging shrubs, trees or grasses and bamboos, depending on the level of formality, and the height and spread required for the space.What is a good boundary tree? ›
Usually, 'fastigiate' trees are better suited for boundary plantings. These trees have a very upright, narrow growth habit, which means less overhanging branches and less potential damage.What is the most beautiful evergreen tree? ›
What is the most beautiful evergreen tree? Magnolia grandiflora is the most beautiful evergreen tree. Erupting in a profusion of blooms in the spring adding beauty and scent, these trees are at their best at the start of spring, heralding the warmer days ahead.What trees stay green all year? ›
Trees known as evergreens keep their leaves, called needles, all year. You can determine an evergreen by its continuous showing of foliage during cold months while other trees lose leaves. Pine trees, spruce trees, palm trees, holly trees, and Murray Cypress trees all keep their leaves year-round.What is the fastest growing evergreen tree for privacy? ›
Thuja Green Giant is the number one choice in Fast-Growing privacy trees. At a rapid growth rate of 3 to 5 feet per year, that is no surprise. For tropical climates, zone 9 and zone 10, Leyland Cypress, Italian Cypress, and Wax Myrtle are the best choices for Fast-Growing privacy.What is the easiest flowering tree to grow? ›
What is the easiest flowering tree to grow? Tulip trees are one of the easiest flowering trees to grow. Once you know a few things about how to grow a tree, it is relatively straightforward. Tulip trees thrive in acidic soil, prefer to be grown in full sun and are fairly resistant to pests and disease.How can I make my garden private for cheap? ›
- Work with your garden's boundaries. (Image credit: Ton Bouwer/ cocofeatures.com) ...
- Try oversized potted plants. ...
- Be clever with your garden furniture choices. ...
- Balance evergreens and deciduous options. ...
- Work with a sloping garden. ...
- Layer container plants. ...
- Use a canopy or shade for overhead protection. ...
- DIY a privacy screen.
- Clematis. Vines make great screens. ...
- Climbing Roses. Train climbing roses over fences, walls, pergolas and gazebos. ...
- Cherry Laurel. Cherry laurel is an evergreen shrub or small tree native to the southeastern United States. ...
- Ivy. ...
- Boxwood. ...
- Privet. ...
- Japanese Holly. ...
As mentioned, conifer leaves are narrow. Some conifers have needles, and some have scale-like leaves. Conifers such as pine trees, spruce, and firs have needles.
Willows (Salix ssp) can be identified by their long, narrow leaves, which have small toothed leaf margins.What is the narrowest oak tree? ›
Fastigiate oak trees grow tall and have a minimal spread that results in a slender narrow tree. The columnar oak 'Fastigiata' trees are typically slow-growing deciduous trees. This type of narrow oak tree grows to between 50 and 65 ft. (15 – 20 m) tall, so it's not a tree for landscaping small backyards.What trees are best for a small backyard? ›
"One of the best trees for a small space has to be a Japanese maple," Karam says. "The striking foliage, the graceful shape, the architecture of the branches in winter. It's a killer!" This particular variety features textured leaves that start red in spring, go bronze in summer, and then turn brilliant orange in fall.What is the most narrow evergreen tree? ›
The thinnest of all the weeping Alaska cedars, it reaches 20 feet tall but is only 1 foot wide! That's right – 1 foot! The tight branches weep while the central trunk grows straight up. This extremely narrow evergreen tree is a truly amazing addition to any compact garden space.What plants have thin narrow leaves? ›
Final answer: Aquatic plants have narrow and thin ribbon-like leaves for easily bending with the flow of water. Q. In aquatic plants like Pistia and Eichhornia, leaves and roots are found near ........What type of oak tree is tall and skinny? ›
Columnar English Oak is a deciduous tree that grows moderately fast. This tree works well in small spaces because it grows tall and narrow. With this tree variety, you can get the beauty of an oak tree without compromising the growing space needed to house a larger species of oak.What small trees grow the fastest? ›
In truth, there are several shade tree varieties that grow the fastest. The saucer magnolia, sweetbay magnolia, flowering dogwood, American redbud, emerald green arborvitae, paper birch, river birch, red maple, sargent cherry, and hakuro nishiki are the fastest growing shade trees for small yards.Is there a small variety of oak tree? ›
Japanese Evergreen Oak (Q. acuta): The smallest of the oak trees, the Japanese evergreen grows 20 to 30 feet tall (6-9 m.) and up to 20 feet wide (6 m.).