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Narrow Trees For Small Yards that Pack a Punch

Narrow trees for small yards featured

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
  • Armstrong Gold® Maple
  • Weeping White Spruce
  • Blushing Delight™ Columnar Apple Tree
  • Moonglow, Blue Arrow, Skyrocket and Pencil Point Juniper

Keep reading for more details about each of these unique tight-space trees.

Goldspire Ginkgo

Ginkgo Goldspire Narrow Ornamental Tree
Ginkgo biloba ‘Goldspire’

Zones 4-9
Full Sun, Part Sun
14-15′ H x 5-6′ W (potentially 30′ H x 10′ W at full maturity*)
Growth Rate: Moderate
Purchase Here

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

Forever Goldie Arborvitae

Forever Goldie Arborvitae Narrow Evergreen
Thuja plicata ‘4EVER’

Zones 3-8
Full Sun
12′ H x 3-4′ W
Growth Rate: Moderate, >1’/year
Purchase Here

Forever Goldie (Thuja plicata ‘4EVER’) 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.

Newly planted Ginkgo Autumn Gold Tree

Quick Tip: These Tree Gator Tree Watering Bags are my go-to for ensuring new trees get the proper amount of water each week. The bags are slow watering so that your tree can establish strong and healthy roots.

Crimson Pointe Flowering Plum

Crimson Pointe Purple Leafed Plum Narrow Deciduous Tree
Prunus cerasifera ‘Cripoizam’. Photo by PrettyPurpleDoor.

Zones 4-9
Full Sun
20-25′ H x 5-6′ W
Growth Rate: Moderate
Purchase Here

‘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.

What Blooms with What?

Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

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Tsukasa Silhouette Japanese Maple

Acer palmatum ‘Tsukasa Silhouette’
Zones 5-9
Part Sun
15-20′ H x 6-7′ W
Growth Rate: Slow
Purchase Here

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.

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.

Japanese Flagpole Flowering Cherry Tree

Japanese Flagpole Flowering Cherry Tree Narrow Ornamental
Prunus ‘Amanogawa’

Zones 5-8
Full Sun, Part Sun
25′ H x 12′ W
Growth Rate: Fast, up to 2’/year

‘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.

Slender Hinoki Cypress

Slender Hinoki False Cypress
Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Gracilis’. Photo courtesy of Washington State University.

Zones 4-8
Full Sun
8-12′ H x 4-5′ W
Growth Rate: Slow, 6-8″/year
Purchase Here

‘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.

Slender Silhouette Columnar Sweetgum

Columnar Sweetgum with Fall Interest
Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Slender Silhouette’

Zones 5-9
Full Sun
60′ H x 5-6′ W
Growth Rate: Fast
Purchase Here

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.

Sky Pencil Holly Tree

Sky Pencil Holly Trees
ilex crenata ‘Sky Pencil’ Holly

Zones 5-9
Full-Part Sun
8-10′ H x 2′ W
Growth Rate: Low-Moderate,10-12″/yr
Purchase Here

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.

Frans Fontaine Hornbeam

Frans Fontaine Hornbeam
Carpinus betulus ‘Frans Fontaine’, photo courtesy of Jake Parrillo

Zones 4-8
Full Sun-Shade
6’W x 25’H, 20’W x 50’H at maturity
Growth Rate: Moderate, >12″/year
Purchase Here

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.

Armstrong Gold® Maple

Acer rubrum ‘JFS-KW78’ PP25301
Zones 4-9
Full Sun
40′ H x 12′ W
Growth Rate: Fast
Purchase Here

Armstrong Gold® Maple is named for its gold-orange foliage making it a standout narrow tree in the fall.  But it’s got more going for it than just fall interest. It has a unique, columnar shape that makes it great for small space gardens.   In the spring, the tree sprouts small red flowers and bright red samaras (winged seeds characteristic of maples). During the spring and summer, it has light green leaves, gray bark, and red branches. Though its natural canopy is six feet, you can also prune or “limb up” the tree  to create an even higher clearance. 

Weeping White Spruce

Picea glauca ‘Pendula’
Zones 2-8
Full Sun
20-30′ H x 6-10′ W
Growth Rate: Fast
Purchase Here

The Weeping White Spruce features deep, blue-green foliage that turns a lighter green in spring. It grows tall and narrow with a delicately weeping pattern, making it ideal for small gardens that need a strong vertical element. This tree works great as a windbreak, unique privacy tree or as a stand alone focal point.

Blushing Delight™ Columnar Apple Tree

Malus domestica ‘Blushing Delight’
Zones 4-9
Full Sun
11′ H x 2-3′ W
Growth Rate: Moderate
Purchase Here

The upright columnar growing habit of the Blushing Delight™ Columnar Apple Tree makes it a real space saver. You can grow your Columnar Apple in a container on a patio or as a small tree in the ground.  The Blushing Delight produces its fruit on spurs along the main stem, so you don’t need a lot of room to grow them. Plus, it merges disease resistance with a narrow, upright habit, making it perfect for placing nearly anywhere.

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:

Moonglow Juniper

Moonglow Juniper Narrow Evergreen Tree
Juniperus scopulorum ‘Moonglow’. Photo courtesy of Washington State University.

Zones 3-7
Full Sun
20′ H x 8′ W
Growth Rate: Fast, >2’/year
Purchase Here

‘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.

Blue Arrow Juniper

Juniper Blue Arrow Narrow Evergreen tree
Juniperus scopulorum ‘Blue Arrow’. Photo courtesy of Washington State University.

Zones 4-8
Full Sun-Part Sun
16-20′ H x 2-4′ W
Growth Rate: Moderate, 15-18″/year
Purchase Here

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.

Skyrocket Juniper

Skyrocket Juniper Narrow Evergreen Tree
Juniperus scopulorum ‘Skyrocket’. Photo courtesy of Washington State University.

Zones 4-9
Full Sun
15-20′ H x 2-3′ W
Growth Rate: Moderate, >12″/year
Purchase Here

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.

Pencil Point Juniper

Compressa Juniper Narrow Evergreen Tree
Juniperus communis ‘Compressa’. Photo courtesy of Washington State University.

Zones 3-8
Full Sun, Part Sun, Shade
6′ H x 1′ W
Growth Rate: Slow, 1-6″/yr

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.

Wrapping Up

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!

Shop my Amazon storefront for my essential gardening books & tool recommendations!

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What Blooms with What?

Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

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  • Amy Fedele

    Amy is the founder of Pretty Purple Door and has been a garden designer since 2014 and graphic designer since 2005. She helps home gardeners design their own beautiful landscapes that are colorful in all four seasons, show off your personality and suit your lifestyle. Amy's work has been featured in publications like The Spruce, Family Handyman, Buzzfeed, Country Living Magazine and more. Read full bio.

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