Finding the right tree is always a difficult decision. This is particularly true when you’re dealing with a small yard. Because with limited real estate you need to make the best of every single inch of gardening space you have.
A great way to do this is by choosing a narrow tree for your small yard.
Trust me, I know a thing or two about small yards. And just because your yard is small does NOT mean that you don’t have the space for a beautiful tree. I’d argue that in most small yards you may even have space for two or three trees if you choose them wisely.
There are many narrow tree options that will fit into just about any landscape! Here are some of my personal favorites:
- Goldspire Ginkgo
- Forever Goldie Arborvitae
- Crimson Pointe Flowering Plum
- Tsukasa Silhouette Japanese Maple
- Japanese Flagpole Flowering Cherry Tree
- Slender Hinoki Cypress
- Columnar Sweetgum Slender Silhouette
- Sky Pencil Holly Tree
- Frans Fontaine Hornbeam
- Moonglow, Blue Arrow, Skyrocket and Pencil Point Juniper
Quick Tip: if you’re looking for a skinny, year-round privacy tree for a tight space, head over to this post to see more my favorite narrow evergreens.
Keep reading for more details about each of these unique tight-space trees.
Full Sun, Part Sun
14-15′ H x 5-6′ W (potentially 30′ H x 10′ W at full maturity*)
The deep green foliage of Ginkgo ‘Goldspire’ (Ginkgo biloba ‘Goldspire’) has unmatched beauty. Unharmed by urban smog, the leaves will filter out the pollutants in the air to give you tons of fresh clean air. This narrow Gingko will provide shade and beautiful deep green backdrop for other plants to pop against. In the fall, the leaves of ‘Goldspire’ turn a beautiful shade of golden yellow that demand attention in your autumn garden.
*It’s important to note that Goldspire is a newer cultivar, so it’s difficult to know it’s full grown size. According to Dick Crum, aka Dr. Dirt, who has been writing newspaper columns about gardening for 45 years,
“Goldspire, Ginkgo biloba ‘Fastigata Blagon,’ is a recent introduction (2010) from France, so there is not much of a history other than the fact that it was a chance seedling with promise. It has a height of about 15 feet with a spread of 3-5′ in 10 years. Generally the height and spread of trees is given when they reach 30 years of age. So, we do not know the ultimate size of Goldspire. My guess is that it will double its 10 year size in 30 years.”Dick Crum, aka Dr. Dirt
12′ H x 3-4′ W
Forever Goldie (Thuja plicata) has bright green foliage tinged with yellow. You’ll love how its foliage turns ‘gold with the cold.’ It’s glowing needles shine in the summer and is a beacon of brightness in cold, gloomy weather. This well-behaved tree doesn’t shed, so you’ll get maximum visual interest all year round. The arborvitae’s soft foliage and upright, pyramidal stature can also stand alone as a focal point on your property.
20-25′ H x 5-6′ W
‘Crimson Pointe’ Flowering Plum (Prunus x cerasifera ‘Cripoizam’) is a dense deciduous tree with a narrowly upright and columnar growth habit. In early spring, it’s covered in stunning clusters of fragrant pink-white flowers along the branches before the foliage appears. This beautiful, narrow tree has attractive deep purple foliage throughout each season.
Acer palmatum ‘Tsukasa Silhouette’
15-20′ H x 6-7′ W
‘Tsukasa Silhouette‘ (Acer palmatum ‘Tsukasa Silhouette’) is the first columnar form of the popular Japanese Maple tree. From an amazing ornamental hedge to a beautiful garden center piece, this narrow tree is incredibly versatile. The foliage is a cheerful lime green in the spring, turning a dark green through the summer, then changing to a brilliant red in the fall.
Full Sun, Part Sun
25′ H x 12′ W
‘Flagpole’ Japanese flowering cherry (Prunus ‘Amanogawa’) is a narrow, columnar tree is perfect for those with limited space. In April and May, the upright branches are adorned with large, pale pink flowers. Bronze-green foliage turns to mid-green and then bursts into orange and red autumn color. If you have the space for it, ‘Flagpole’ is a stunning, slender option for your small garden bringing dramatic interest in all four seasons.
8-12′ H x 4-5′ W
‘Slender’ (Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Gracilis’) is an open-branched, pyramidal variety of Hinoki Cypress with gracefully arching branchlets. Tiny, deep green needles with reddish new growth have a soft, ferny appearance and develop bronze coloring in winter. ‘Slender’ makes an excellent small, narrow evergreen tree for screening, hedges and background plantings.
60′ H x 5-6′ W
Columnar Sweetgum ‘Slender Silhouette’ (Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Slender Silhouette’) is an incredibly narrow form of Sweetgum that grows quickly to over 60′ tall and barely 6′ wide. This tree will turn heads for years to come. It’s emerald green foliage turns an orange-red hue in the fall.
This tall, thin tree is perfect for tight spaces, small gardens or as a striking vertical accent. Some see American sweetgums as a nuisance for the fruit (a spiky seed-filled ball) that they drop. ‘Slender Silhouette’ produces only a little fruit, and it falls in a small area since the tree is so narrow.
8-10′ H x 2′ W
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.
Quick Tip: If you’re loving these narrow tree options, you’ll also like my post about ornamental trees for your small garden.
6’W x 25’H (20’W x 50’H at maturity)
Frans Fontaine Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus ‘Frans Fontaine’) was recommended to me by reader, Jake Parrillo. Jake told me that this is his favorite columnar tree for his landscape. Commonly known as European Hornbeam or Common Hornbeam, this narrow tree is long-lived, even in tough locations.
Frans Fontaine matures at 40-50′ tall but spreads only about 20′. In ten years, it seldom spreads more than 6-8′ while reaching a height of 20-25′. This is a very handsome tree with rich green summer foliage that turns a golden-yellow color for autumn interest.
Blue Juniper Evergreens
I really love junipers, especially because there are so many varieties that will fit into a smaller garden. Here are some of my favorite narrow juniper options:
20′ H x 8′ W
‘Moonglow’ Juniper (Juniperus scopulorum ‘Moonglow’) is a compact conifer with attractive gray-green foliage year round. ‘Moonglow’ is a dense multi-stemmed evergreen with ornamental scale-like foliage and a narrowly upright and columnar growth habit. As its name suggests, its gray-green foliage will reflect light under strong moonlight.
Full Sun-Part Sun
16-20′ H x 2-4′ W
Blue Arrow Juniper (Juniperus scopulorum ‘Blue Arrow’) is a sun-loving narrow upright evergreen with powdery blue foliage. They create a beautiful privacy screen without taking up your whole yard. This is a colorful addition to your landscape with its tight, bright blue foliage. If you have a tight corner in a side yard, or a view you want to hide, plant several Blue Arrows to form a tall, narrow privacy screen.
15-20′ H x 2-3′ W
A thin, columnar Juniper, ;Skyrocket’ (Juniperus scopulorum ‘Skyrocket’) fits into very difficult places like narrow side yards between homes. Planting multiples of ‘Skyrocket’ creates a fantastic windbreak in both hot and cold climates. It’s vertical form also makes this a great accent plant in a mixed conifer garden.
Full Sun, Part Sun, Shade
6′ H x 1′ W
Juniperus communis ‘Compressa’ or Pencil Point Juniper is a small and narrow evergreen has beautiful blue-green foliage that will shimmer in your sunny garden. Topping off at 6 feet tall and just one foot wide, Pencil Point Juniper is a great choice for slender gardens where space is limited. ‘Pencil Point’ makes an excellent screen or small hedge and prefers well-drained soil. Despite its size, this evergreen is a strong, drought-tolerant and cold-hardy option for even the toughest growing conditions.
Quick Tip: If you are looking to plant trees as a privacy screen, be sure to check out my post all about planting privacy trees as a hedge.
Just because you have a small yard doesn’t mean that you don’t have space for a tree! As you can see there are dozens of options for narrow trees that will pack quite the punch in your small landscape or tight space.
Remember to choose your slender tree not just because it’s narrow but because it’s unique and deserves a prominent place in your garden. Look for unique features like multi-season interest, beautiful flowers or even colorful foliage and you’ll be on your way to creating a beautiful landscape to enjoy for years to come.
If you haven’t quite found what you’re looking for, head over to my post about narrow evergreen trees for year round interest and privacy in the garden.
Lastly, you’re planning on planting a new tree, be sure to give it the proper amount water, especially when it’s young. I find the Tree gator (Amazon link) to be an incredible solution to slow-watering my trees so they can grow strong and healthy roots. The tree gator will slow drip the water to your tree over the course of several days to make your watering chores much easier!
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