Small Garden Tree

A Guide to Planting Small Garden Trees

Having a compact garden should not deter you from using the space wisely to plant small garden trees. There are many options that will still bring life, colour, nature and wildlife into your garden space.

Note: there is a tree for every soil type or space, the trick is to research and find the right one for you.

The benefits of planting trees are extensive not only for wildlife and the environment but for our mental wellbeing also. Some of the benefits include:

  • Filter against pollution
  • Assist in the maintenance of healthy soils
  • Provide shade from the Sun
  • Provide Shelter from the Wind and Rain
  • Provide homes and shelter to animals
  • Produce food
  • Bring colour into the garden space
  • Encourage all types of wildlife into the garden

When space is limited, we must then choose wisely to maximize the return from that space. Here’s a few options for trees that tick the box for making the most of a compact garden space.


Malus John Downie

Malus John Downie are small deciduous crab apple trees that produces a lovely white vibrant flower in Spring, which is then pollinated by bees and produces a small fruit in later Summer months.

Flowering heavily in late Spring, early Summer, Malus are ideal small garden trees with a size range of 20 – 30ft. The later Summer fruits are abundant but non-edible because of their bitter taste, thus making them more suited to jam making. When ripe, the apples fall from the trees and make a great food source for ground mammals.

Malus John Downie trees will do well in any reasonably well drained soil.

After planting all trees and hedging should be watered, especially if planting is carried out in the drier Summer months. Trees should be watered consistently in the first growing cycle to ensure success. 

Himalyan Jacquemontii Birch Trees

Known for it’s eye catching white papery bark, Jacquemontii trees make a great focal point in any garden, large or small.

The bark of younger trees is grey with flecks of white that turn more white with a peeling consistency over time.


Eye catching white bark that supports a green crown ensures this tree stands out in a small garden.

The green leaves of Summer fade to yellowish brown in Autumn months before falling off in Winter.

The striking white bark then ensure Winter colour in even the smallest garden.

Jacquemontii Birch trees can be pruned to retain it’s crown and shape. Annual pruning is not necessary. 

Pruning should be done after September but before new Spring growth.

Remember to look out for nesting birds.

A general fertiliser at the base of the plants, such as fish, blood, and bone meal will help them thrive.

They will grow in full sun and shade and are hugely popular with our customers.  

Trees can be sown from pots all year round, or as bare root trees from November through to March.

Magnolia Tree

Heaven Scent is a beautiful tree that will bring colour and form into the garden. Available potted for year round planting.

Cup shaped flowers with pale pink petals. Petals are darker pink at the base with a cerise stripe on the back of the petal. 

Ideal for a small garden, Magnolia trees will grow well in full sun or partial shade in a well-drained soil. 

A general fertiliser at the base of the plants or mixed into the soil, such as Chicken Manure pellets will provide tree with essential nutrients for a healthy growth. 

Malus Royalty

Malus Royalty Crab Apple Trees are small deciduous upright trees with glossy dark purple leaves that fade to a robust red in Autumn.

This small garden tree also produces large purple crimson flowers in Spring, followed by dark red fruits in Autumn.

This Malus is an ideal small garden reaching a height of about 4 metres.

The fruits are non-edible because of their bitter taste but are suited to jam making.

Malus Royalty trees will thrive in any reasonably well drained soil. 

A general fertiliser at the base of the plants, such as fish, blood, and bone meal will help them thrive.

Prunus Autumnalis Rosea Cherry Blossom 

The Winter Flowering Tree is a very pretty small cherry blossom tree that flowers in late Autumn and through Winter. 

Bell shaped soft pink flowers appear in late Autumn and last through Winter months when the stems are bare. 

Spring brings a new flush of green leaves that turn vibrant red in Autumn.

Maintaining a small size, it is a spreading tree and ideal for the compact garden. 

Autumnalis Rosea will thrive in most well drained soils.

Trees can be planted from pots all year round or as bare root trees from November to March.

A general-purpose fertiliser such as Blood and Bone Meal or something Nitrogen-rich will do the job.

They will grow in full sun and shade and are very popular with our customers because they flower in Winter. 

Planting a Small Garden Tree

Planting any tree or plant takes time, effort and after care.

Before you get started, can we advise that you read our Guide to Planting or alternatively you can watch our Step By Step Guide.

Securing your newly planted tree with a timber stake and supersoft tree tie is also important to secure the tree against wind.

Please be mindful, as with all plants and living things, trees need water to survive and thrive, especially in the few months immediately after planting.

Watering should be carried out early morning or late in the evening and consistently in drier Summer months to give your trees and plants the best possible start.

Here at Cullen Nurseries, we are an award winning DAFM approved nursery and we love to help customers make the right choice.

We are growing our large range of native trees and hedging plants in our natural nursery in Carlow.

Offering a nationwide delivery service means we can supply you with the perfect plants for your needs, wherever you are based.

Book an appointment to come and view our Native Nursery and plants in person or order online for nationwide delivery.