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Many shrubs are available in tree form!

The top tiny trees for tight spaces

By Chris Leinster - July 15, 2019

As the population continues to proliferate along Colorado’s Front Range, builders are cramming houses closer together. Yard space is sacrificed for expansive living spaces, and massive McMansions are crammed onto lots where quaint bungalows once stood. In many neighborhoods, roof top patios offer the only place to plant, and rooftop gardening is becoming increasingly popular. Happy Trees is receiving many requests for smaller stature trees that won’t outgrow the slender spaces afforded them. The following are the best picks for petite trees for smaller spaces.

There are a few columnar or “fastigiate” forms of trees that provide screening and privacy where space is at a premium. If you need four season privacy, evergreens such as Juniper, Pine, and Spruce offer the best seclusion. There are many varieties of upright Juniper. ‘Skyrocket’ is the skinniest with about a 3’ span. ‘Wichita Blue’ spreads about 6’ wide and has lacy blue needles that give it a soft appearance. Check out ‘Arnold Sentinel’ for a columnar pine. If you like Blue Spruce, you’ll love the ‘Fastigiata’, an upright form.

Since we’re outside mostly over the summer months, deciduous trees like Crimsonspire Oak and Franz Fontaine Hornbeam offer super slender screening or stately accents. Many families of trees have upright forms. Maple has ‘Autumn Gold’, which is still a big tree but with a skinnier profile. There are a few Crabapple varieties like ‘Red Baron’ with upright canopies. Crabapple even have dwarf varieties like ‘Sargent Tina’ with a weeping habit. ‘Coralburst’ makes a petite patio tree, and ‘Lollipop’ is almost comical with its perfectly globular 8’ crown. There’s even a columnar form of Golden Raintree!

I hesitate to include Japanese Maple as they just don’t like Colorado’s dry air. They are irresistible though, and avid gardeners can try to pamper them to maturity. Another rarity for our climate is Seven Son Flower, which is about as close to a Crape Myrtle as we can grow at our altitude. Check it out!

Japanese Tree Lilac, Saskatoon Serviceberry, and Winter King Hawthorn are smaller trees for confined areas. Where space is really restricted, you might look to tree forms of what are generally considered shrubs. Many of our favorite shrubs can grow quite large, and if pruned properly they can lose their bushy form and be trained into small trees.

Viburnum, Ninebark, Rose of Sharon, Lilac, and Smoketree can grow upward of 15’, which is generally considered the transition where woody plants are classified as trees or shrubs. By selectively pruning out competing branches, these shrubs can be transformed into multi-stemmed small trees. As the plants mature, 3-9 stems can support an overhead canopy. If left alone, these manipulated plants will eventually revert to their bush form, so trim off unwanted leaves and branches like a Bonsai master as they appear.

Single trunked forms of these plants are sometimes available where the growers graft the shrub onto a single stem. These are specialty items that are seasonally available.

Happy Trees can provide the perfect tree for your needs whatever they may be. There’s the right tree for every situation, so if you don’t see what you need on our website, just call and we’ll fix you up with exactly what you need.