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Trees for Small Spaces

Small-space gardening can be a challenge when it comes to trees. We show you the best trees for small yards, including flowering trees like crabapple and the ever-popular Japanese maple, tree-planting tips, and more.

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Next to a home, in a parking strip or in a narrow yard, any tree you plant needs to be a small one. Here are some dependable choices that usually stand under 20 feet tall. One of the best small space trees is the crabapple. These tough trees are real survivors hardy to zone four. They bloom beautifully in spring and produce colorful fruit in the fall and winter, be sure you buy a disease resistant variety. The Japanese Maple may be the best known and most loved small tree, for good reason. The foliage is beautiful spring through fall, and the form of the plant is pretty even when the leaves drop. The purple leaf variety is most popular. Coral Bark Maple, is prized for its colorful stems. Full Moon maple, closely related, is less used, but a spectacular plant for the garden. Japanese maples are hardy to zone five and grow in full sun, but often do better if given afternoon shade. They come in a huge range of leaf and plant forms, and even work well in containers. Another maple is the Amur maple. A bit larger than Japanese Maples, this reliable tree is best known for its dramatic fall colors, primarily purple and red. It's hardy all the way to zone four. Flowering Dogwood is one of the most prized Spring bloomers, but it also has incredible fall color. It's hardy down to zone five, but in the North, it's important to buy plants from Northern sources. Dogwood can tolerate sun. But will enjoy some shade during the hottest part of the day. Another dogwood, the American native Pagoda Dogwood, is valued for its stunning branch form. It's not tall, but it is rather wide. Something to keep in mind when planting. One variety, Golden Shadows has spectacular variegated foliage. Crape Myrtle is a staple of Southern gardens. With age, it can eventually grow somewhat large. But it tolerates cutting back to control size. This heat lover is hardy and zoned six through ten, but often dies back to the ground in zone six. Redbud is a fabulous spring bloomer. And grows well in full sun, as well as shade. Try forest pansy or burgundy hearts for purple leaves. And rising sun for Chartreuse foliage. Redbud is hardy to zone five.