12 Stunning Narrow Trees to Make the Most of Small Garden Spaces

The majority of us don’t have a lot of garden space, and we don’t always have the time we’d like to spend in them.

It can be hard to pick the right trees for small gardens. If you make the wrong choice, the trees will take up too much space and could even damage your house’s foundations.

Because of these things, you might be hesitant to plant trees. But if you pick the right ones, you can give your garden much-needed structure and texture while also blocking out neighbors and the outside world.

“Just because it’s small, doesn’t mean you can’t be creative. Often, it is much better to go bigger and bolder in small spaces. ”.

“Trees are important in gardens from both a design and biodiversity perspective,” shares Master Horticulturist Colin Skelly.

Garden without trees can look flat, and trees are very important for keeping plants and animals living in gardens.

There are smart ways to use vertical space these days, especially in city gardens. One great way is to use vertical space instead of horizontal space.

Additionally, it can add depth to your garden and lets you enjoy growing a tree even in a small outdoor space.

For homeowners with petite yards or tight spaces, finding the right tree can seem challenging. Many standard trees spread out widely, quickly exceeding the square footage available. Fortunately, there are dozens of excellent narrow tree varieties perfectly suited for small gardens.

Rather than limiting your options, a small garden is an opportunity to discover unique slender trees. Their columnar habits not only fit the confines but create vertical interest essential for small landscapes. This article explores 12 stunning narrow trees ideal for maximizing tiny yards.

Benefits of Narrow Trees for Small Gardens

Integrating vertical narrow trees into compact gardens offers numerous advantages:

  • Provide privacy without occupying much horizontal room
  • Draw the eye upwards, adding depth and drama
  • Contrast nicely with spreading shrubs and groundcovers
  • Allow sunlight to reach garden beds since they don’t shade too widely
  • Offer seasonal interest with flowers, fruit, fall color and evergreen foliage
  • Attract pollinators with many featuring fragrant blooms
  • Create focal points and attractive specimens for garden design

With smart narrow tree selections, small spaces can pack a powerful landscape punch.

Factors to Consider When Selecting Narrow Trees

Consider the following criteria when choosing narrow trees:

  • Mature height and width – Ensure it will fit without invading structures at full size
  • Sun exposure – Match the tree to the sunlight levels in your garden
  • Soil conditions – Select trees suited to your soil’s pH, drainage and nutrients
  • Temperature hardiness – Choose a zone-appropriate tree adapted to your climate
  • Growth rate – Faster growing varieties fill space quicker but require more pruning
  • Evergreen vs. deciduous – Pick based on preferred leaf-on or leaf-off look
  • Ornamental features – Prioritize flowers, fruit, fall color, or other aesthetics you value
  • Wildlife benefits – Many native narrow trees provide habitat and food sources

Study your garden conditions, weigh the options below, and choose narrow trees with characteristics you find most appealing.

12 Great Narrow Trees for Small Yard Landscapes

1. Skyrocket Juniper

With a mature height between 15-20 feet but spread of just 2-3 feet, Skyrocket Juniper (Juniperus scopulorum ‘Skyrocket’) is aptly named. This evergreen conifer has steely blue-green foliage and maintains a rigidly columnar form. The dense, prickly needles ensure good privacy. Skyrocket works nicely for screens and narrow side yards. It also withstands heat while requiring little water once established.

2. Golden Curls Willow

Willow trees evoke flowing, graceful shapes, but Golden Curls Willow (Salix matsudana ‘Golden Curls’) offers a strikingly upright silhouette Topping out around 35 feet with a spread of 10 feet, its contorted branching pattern and curled lemon-yellow leaves provide unique architectural interest. Give this fast grower plenty of space to show off its slender single-trunk form.

3. Armand’s Arborvitae

A rugged evergreen for colder climates, Armand’s Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Armandii’) maintains a narrow pyramidal shape. Its dense, lemon-scented foliage takes on a tawny bronze hue in winter. With mature dimensions of 15 feet tall x 3 feet wide, it fits beautifully into tight spots for year-round structure. Regular shearing helps keep its form in check.

4. Crimson Spire Oak

While most oak trees become very broad, Crimson Spire Oak (Quercus robur x alba ‘Crimschmidt’) has an upright columnar habit, reaching 40 feet tall but only 15-20 feet wide. The simple lobed leaves turn vibrant shades of orange and red in fall. It’s fast growing for an oak. Though columnar, it should be given adequate room to display its majestic height.

5. Ginkgo ‘Jade Butterflies’

‘Jade Butterflies’ is a dwarf male clone of Ginkgo biloba, the classic fan-shaped leaved maidenhair tree. This compact cultivar gains just 10 feet in height with a 2 foot spread. The dimorphic leaves emerge a rich chartreuse color in spring then mature to jade green, turning golden in fall. Its slow growth means it rarely needs pruning to maintain its pert, narrow form.

6. Austrian Black Pine

Valued for screening or as a vertical accent, upright evergreen pines like Austrian Black Pine (Pinus nigra) bring strong shapes to small gardens. Growing 50 feet high but only 15 feet wide when mature, this fastigiate pine has bundles of two dark green needles and attractive brown cones. Ensure reasonable airflow and sunlight reach the interior to keep it healthy.

7. Red Rocket Maple

Red Rocket Freeman Maple (Acer x freemanii ‘Red Rocket’) combines stunning fall color with reliably columnar growth, perfect for confined gardens. It explodes with bright crimson foliage in autumn, preceded by clusters of springtime salmon-pink flowers. The slender growth reaches 50 feet high by just 15 feet across. Regular pruning in youth helps establish its narrowly upright branching.

8. Tremonia Columnar Oak

Another great vertical oak option is Tremonia Columnar Oak (Quercus robur ‘Tremonia’). It towers up to 50 feet tall but spreads only 10-15 feet wide. Dark green foliage turns burnt orange in fall. Fast growth while young helps it quickly fill narrow upright spaces. Once mature, it requires minimal trimming to maintain its slim profile. Give it room to showcase its soaring height.

9. Eastern Red Cedar

With dense evergreen foliage perfect for screens and hedges, Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) works well where horizontal space is limited. It has gray-green scale-like leaves and attractive blue-gray berries. Though it can reach 50 feet tall, pruning while young containing its spread to 10 feet or less is feasible. Just take care not to shear into bare interior branches.

10. Columnar Sargent Cherry

The aptly named Columnar Sargent Cherry (Prunus sargentii ‘Columnaris’) dazzles in spring with sweet-scented pink blossoms coating its branches. It maintains a narrow upright form, growing to just 8 feet wide at maturity but up to 25 feet tall. The dark green summer foliage turns brilliant shades of orange and red in fall. Give this compact, ornamental cherry tree prime placement to showcase its seasonal display.

11. Little Giant Arborvitae

For small gardens desiring a narrow evergreen but limited on vertical space, Little Giant Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Little Giant’) is a perfect solution. Maxing out at just 10 feet tall with a 3 foot spread, this diminutive conifer makes a great low hedge or geometric feature. Its slow growth means minimal shearing is needed to retain its neat conical shape.

12. Hollywood Juniper

With a rock star worthy name, Hollywood Juniper (Juniperus chinensis “Torulosa’) offers drama in a compact package. The light green needle-like leaves twist together forming dense ropy cords. This gives the foliage a sculptural, suction-cupped appearance. Slowly growing 15 feet tall and just 3-4 feet wide, its curved columnar silhouette stands out as a focal point.

Choosing the Best Narrow Trees for Your Landscape Vision

For gardens with limited square footage, a carefully curated selection of narrow trees can make a world of difference. They bring essential vertical interest without dominating horizontal space.

Take time to envision how you want the narrow trees to fulfill goals like privacy, ornamentation, color, screening undesirable views, or creating focal points in your design.

By tailoring choices to your site conditions and aesthetic tastes, petite yards can support trees as captivating as their sweeping estate counterparts. The list above reveals just a sample of the many gorgeous narrow tree possibilities suitable for your unique small garden.

Other Key Considerations for Planting Narrow Trees

When incorporating slender upright trees into compact gardens, keep these tips in mind:

  • Allow enough space between multiple narrow trees for future growth.

  • Situate them with care to avoid infringing on structures as they mature.

  • Stake young trees to establish straight leader stems and prevent slumping.

  • Prune lower branches once higher canopies emerge to show off tall trunks.

  • Water deeply and mulch well, especially during the initial few years after planting.

With thoughtful narrow tree selections and proper care, even the tiniest garden can support inspiring vertical accents. Your landscape will benefit for years from the many virtues of slender trees.

Lawson’s Cypress

narrow trees for small gardens

  • BOTANICAL NAME: Chamaecyparis lawsoniana

Cherry Plum

narrow trees for small gardens

  • BOTANICAL NAME: Prunus cerasifera ‘Crimson Pointe’

Cherry Plum is a gorgeous, purple-leaved, flowering blossom tree that is ideal for a smaller garden.

It grows in a strong, columnar shape and has pretty, fragrant, pink-white flowers in the spring. If you’re lucky, it may also give you a small crop of plums.

This tree loses its leaves every year and grows to about 6 meters tall, making it another great choice for a privacy screen.

Cherry Plum trees are easy to grow and very cold-hardy.

They prefer a spot in full sun and well-drained soil.

These trees don’t need much care; they usually only need light pruning. They also grow quickly and reach their full height in ten years.

12 Narrow Trees for Small Yards that Pack a Punch: Skinny Trees to Maximize Yard Space


What kind of tree is tall and narrow?

Columnar trees add beautiful color and power to a landscape. They have their own spire-like beauty that provides a wonderful contrast against wide-spreading plants. These narrow trees look formal and crisp in appearance.

What trees can grow in small spaces?

If you are looking to fill a space quickly, several small trees—like crape myrtle, crabapple, eastern redbud, and flowering dogwood—will do just that.

What is a tree that stays small?

Magnolia grandiflora ‘Baby Grand’ is a small, compact and rounded dwarf tree with has large, creamy white, fragrant flowers from Spring into Summer.

What are the best narrow trees for containers & small gardens?

These Best Narrow Trees for Containers & Small Gardens can help you bring a dash of greenery using tall specimens in pots! 1. Northern White Cedar 2. Japanese Holly 3. Japanese Flowering Cherry 4. Crimson Spire Oak 5. Dakota Pinnacle Birch 6. Swedish Columnar Aspen 7. Dwarf Hornbeam 8. Japanese Maple 9. Nootka Cypress 10. Wissel’s Saguaro Cypress

Which small trees grow well in a compact garden?

For example, many compact evergreen conifers like Lawson cypress or white spruce have a low footprint and columnar habit. Additionally, dwarf flowering trees like crabapple, cherry blossom, dogwood, and redbud produce masses of spectacular blooms in spring and summer. What are the best small trees suitable for a compact garden landscape?

Which trees are best for small spaces?

Slender deciduous and evergreen trees for narrow spaces can be a focal point, make an elegant statement, or accent a feature of your property. Ideal for tight spaces, skinny, columnar trees are crucial for small-space gardening if you want to create a natural privacy fence.

Are narrow trees good for small gardens?

Compact gardens and yards can benefit from these narrow trees in many other ways, too. Not only do they add design flair, but many of these trees for small gardens also produce edible berries, cones, and seeds enjoyed by birds and other urban wildlife.

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