Last Updated on February 2, 2023 by Paul Guzman
Are you looking for small landscaping trees for your yard? Landscaping or redesigning your yard with trees can be an adventure when looking for small trees. Smaller type trees can add so much to your home, in fact, they can add value to your home when and if you decide to sell your home.
Types of small landscaping trees
There are different kinds of trees for you to use when you have a smaller yard. Smaller-type trees are usually called patio trees and are good for small yards, duplexes, condos, or townhomes.
So depending on where you live there are ordinances that require you to plant and maintain your yard. Gated communities will sometimes require smaller types of trees or a neighborhood that has rules for what you can and can’t plant in and around your yard.
There is a big list of small trees that will do well throughout the USA but for the Desert southwest, it is a smaller list. But, no matter where you live we have some great information on what type of trees to use.
List of small trees for landscaping
The Redbud Trees
Redbud trees are good for small to medium size yards. They produce beautiful dark purple blooms starting in early spring. This is the Eastern Redbud and grows to about 20 ft. tall and 30 ft. wide. The Mexican Redbud will only grow about 10-15 ft. tall. Oklahoma Redbud is larger up to 30 ft. tall. All Redbud trees produce small finger-like blooms in early spring eventually puffing out into a bright showy pink flower. The Mexican and Oklahoma Redbuds do well in warmer regions. More information at “Types of Redbud Trees“.
USDA Zone 4-9
Dwarf Crape Myrtles
Crape Myrtles are excellent, colorful plants or small trees that can be used for smaller spaces. Most are dwarf or semi-dwarf. The Tuscarora variety produces spectacular dark pink flowers and grows about 15 ft. tall and wide. Most nurseries will carry the multi-trunk variety, but they also come in a single trunk. Perfect for most smaller yards or landscapes. Learn more about Crape Myrtles
USDA Zone 7-10
Desert Willow Trees
There are many types of Desert Willows trees that are ideal for the front or backyard of your home. The one pictured below is the Burgundy Desert Willow. It will grow up to 15-20 ft. tall and wide. It is a good choice for a desert Xeriscape Design. Desert Willows are drought tolerant after the first year of planting. Deciduous and not susceptible to insects and diseases. USDA Zones 7-9.
The Bubba Desert Willow tree is a new type of hybrid. More about these trees at Desert Willow tree.
Crabapple trees are known for their bright, colorful early spring blooms. Most are semi-dwarf and will grow about 15 ft. wide maybe 20 ft. in height. USDA Zones 4-8. They are deciduous and will produce small size fruit provided they get pollinated by bees, butterflies, and other insects.
Dwarf Magnolia Trees
Most folks think Magnolia trees are too big for my yard but there are some varieties that are dwarf and do well in the Southwest USA. The Little Gem Dwarf southern magnolia will grow 20 ft. tall and 12 ft. wide. They are notoriously slow-growing trees. Dark green thick foliage and compact form.
Another one is the Teddy Bear Southern Magnolia a compact small tree. About the same size as the Little Gem. These are Hybrid trees grown by Monrovia Wholesale Stores. They both produce large white fragrant flowers. See the Photos on the Monrovia website.
USDA zone 7-10
Dwarf Peach Trees
The true Dwarf Peach Trees are really small the Bonanza Dwarf Peach tree will only get 5 ft. tall but they will produce abundant fruit. These are good trees for folks who have truly small yards. The fruit is sweet and you will have lots of peaches at harvest time… usually about late September or early October. The only drawback is the lifespan of these trees which is about 15 maybe 20 years. The flower is a dark lavender color and will bloom in early spring. Other types of peach trees will rarely grow bigger than 15 ft. this size is considered semi-dwarf. Learn more about Fruit trees for the Desert Southwest. The USDA Garden Zone is 5-9.
The Vitex Tree
Vitex trees also called the Chaste Tree Agnus-castus is a medium-sized tree that is drought tolerant once established. It is a moderate-growing tree for the first 10-15 years after initial planting. It will grow to about 15 ft. tall and wide. However, much larger once it reaches 20 years of growth. A low-water tree once it is well established. Spiky lavender blooms in late spring. There is also a white variety but not as showy as the dark lilac flowers but is still a great tree for a Xeriscape or a traditional landscape area. You can read more about this tree at The Vitex Tree. USDA Zones 6-10
I saved the best for last. Specifically the Bright N ‘Tight™ Prunus caroliniana ‘Monus’ Variety and an evergreen tree that is best suited for smaller yards or landscapes. Shiny dark green foliage with a compact teardrop look. They will grow 6 to 8 ft. tall and about 5 ft. wide. What I like about this tree is that it can be planted in medium to large decorative containers. Put two on an entrance driveway for that upscale look. They produce a small white flower in early spring. This tree can take full sun and lots of shade. USDA Zone 7-11.
These trees will thrive in and around the Southwest regions of the USA. Most can be found at independently owned Nurseries. It is important to measure the space you need for your small tree.
It is also important to note some of the trees mentioned here will grow larger than what we have mentioned in this article. There are many factors involved such as placement, soil, fertilization, and access to water. The same holds true if they do not grow to their actual height and width.
Know your gardening zone without this knowledge you won’t know which tree will or will not grow in your area. Know your Plant Hardiness Zone. Because there is no point in spending money on a landscape tree only to find out that it is going to die in just a couple of months. So, ask the nursery employee if the tree will grow in your area. And you can do some of your own research online to find a big list of websites to determine if your tree will grow in your area.
Paul Guzman – Husband, Father, Grandfather, Gardener, and Webmaster of GuzmansGreenhouse.com – Please share this post below.