Finding the Right Tree for a Small Lot

Don’t think you have to sacrifice your love of leafy shade because your home sits on a small lot.  While many trees grow to towering heights and spread out, there are many to choose from which remain compact.  Whether your home takes up most of your yard in an urban setting or your house is on a small suburban lot, there are trees available to complement your landscape, providing shade and beauty.

You can choose from many types of trees – flowering, evergreen, and even fruit trees.  Many apple trees can be grown as dwarf varieties and are cold-hardy for the two USDA zones which the Twin Cities communities fall into.  There are common species such as the various dogwoods, as well as more exotic ones.  If you’re visiting a tree farm or nursery, look for the “dwarf” varieties.  Genetically these trees are the same as their full-sized relatives; they simply grow at a a reduced rate and retain a more compact size and shape.  Dwarf trees require a little more care than their larger cousins.  They require a bit more fertilizer, so it’s good to apply a slow-release type in the spring.

The first thing to consider is what you’re looking for in a tree – shade, color, flowers, fruit.  That will help you narrow down your choices.  Here are some specimens you may want to consider.  Be sure to ask your nursery about cold hardiness, however; different varieties are more cold-tolerant than others, but new cold-hardy variants are being introduced periodically.

Dwarf Red Buckeye:  Grows 10-20 feet, spreads about the same.  Slow growth, but it leafs out earlier than many other trees in this area.  Provides bright-red flowers in late spring.

Serviceberry (also called Juneberry):  These come in several varieties,  They grow and spread between 15-25′ and produce small edible fruit.  Left untrimmed it develops shrub-like growth, but you can prune the side shoots to produce a more slender, upright growth.

PeeGee Hydrangea:  This hardy bloomer grows 15-20′ with abundant blooms that turn pink-bronze and remain on the tree all winter.  They also make great dried flowers.

Polar Joy Rose Tree:  This one truly is a miniature delight – growing only 4-8′.  It blooms continuously , producing vibrant pink flowers.  It’s a great accent for your front entry area, and doesn’t require as much care as many tree roses.

Working with an architectural landscape designer who has experience with small lots is the best way to make sure you’ll get the right trees for your yard and soil conditions as well as those which fulfill your intentions.