Small Trees for Small Spaces: Flowering Trees that Pack a Pretty Punch

It’s hard to imagine a complete landscape or garden without a tree or two. Trees provide comfortable shade for people as well as many smaller plants that can’t handle full sun. They also bring an aesthetic balance, adding height and depth to landscapes that might otherwise feel flat and empty.

But, not every yard has room for massive, seventy foot tall trees. Even when there is room, larger trees may create too much shade, leaving inadequate space for garden plants like tomatoes which require full sun. We’ve been helping San Jose property owners pick the right tree for their property for decades. We thought to share with you a simple guide to help you pick your next tree for planting in small spaces.

Fortunately, there is a wide variety of smaller, flowering trees which landscapers can employ to avoid size concerns while still enjoying the beauty and benefit that only trees can provide. The following list includes ten of our favorite small, flowering trees (be sure to check your growing zone against the zones noted for each tree to make sure it can survive in your area):

Arbortek Tree Service

Crape Myrtle – This deciduous shrub or tree requires full sun and moderate water. They bring wonderful summer flowers and many varieties provide brilliant fall color as well. Climate Zone: 6 – 10.

Cherry Laurel – These trees are quite resilient, and grow well in urban settings. Do to their potentially compact form, they can be grown as a hedge or shrub and they provide beautiful white flowers similar to typical cherry trees. Climate Zone: 7-10.

Chaste Tree – A wonderful garden or patio tree, Chaste trees bloom in bunches of fragrant lilac flowers, with gray-green foliage. They can be trained into shrubs or used as excellent accent trees. Climate Zone: 5 – 9.


Arbortek Trees PlantingAlmond Tree – Small and compact, the almond tree is a relative of the peach. Almond blossoms are fragrant and attractive to bees and other pollinators as a food source in the spring. The almonds that come later can also be harvested as a food source for your family. Climate Zone: 5 – 9.

Flowering Dogwood – White Dogwoods are a particularly attractive variety, since they bloom with white “flowers” in the spring time, their leaves shift colors to a bold reddish purple color in the fall, and their small red fruits attract birds through the winter months. Climate Zone 5 – 9.

Magnolia Tree – The Southern Magnolia may be more familiar to some, but Little Gem Magnolia trees are another excellent option, especially for smaller spaces since it has a more narrow, columned form. These trees have large, creamy white flowers much like their larger siblings, and the blooms can last half the year. Climate Zone: 7 – 9.

Lily Tree – Lily trees deliver an exciting midsummer show, filling with large, upward-facing flowers than come in a variety of beautiful colors. Some varieties offer a single color, like purple, others are multi-colored. Climate Zone: 3 – 10.

Flowering Quince – Quince tends toward a shrub shape, but can be trained into a taller tree. They bloom in late winter into early spring with salmon, pink, red, or white flowers. Climate Zone: 4 – 10.

Flowering Crabapple – Crabapples make wonderful ornamental trees, partly because there are so many options (more than 35 species and 700 cultivated varieties). Certain varieties can be very large (50 feet tall), so be sure to verify that before you plant. Prairifire crabapples may be a good choice, since they have good disease resistance and grow well in a variety of conditions. They shift colors from maroon in spring to dark green in summer and then bronze in the fall. Climate Zone: 3 – 8.

Western Redbud – An extraordinary ornamental option, these small trees bloom in spring with large numbers of small rose-purple flowers. In addition, their foliage and branches offer excellent fall and winter colors. Our blog offers more details on Western Redbud care. Climate Zone: 6 – 9.

As you can see, there are a great many excellent options when it comes to small, ornamental trees for compact spaces. Hopefully this list will help you make a selection that you can enjoy for years. Of course, Arbortek has helped many home and commercial property owners all around San Jose and the Greater Bay Area select and maintain ornamental treed, both small and large, and we would be happy to assist you with custom recommendations.