Posted On October 29, 2020 By In Regulars With 20 Views

WEST COAST GARDENER – Terrific Trees to Fit in Small Spaces

by Matt Hall, Red Feather Horticulture –

The importance of trees in a landscape can’t be overstated. However, with the steady decline in yard sizes, we’re finding that many of our clients just don’t have the room for most trees. If you have a lack of space but still have your heart set on planting a tree this year, here are some of our favourites that can fit into tight spaces.

Japanese Snowbell (styrax japonicus). At 25 feet tall and wide, these aren’t the smallest trees on the list but a snowbell will keep a naturally neat shape without much pruning. Also, the roots of styrax are unlikely to come up above the surface so they’re a great candidate for planting next to a patio or in a lawn. More importantly, the snowbell is one of the most beautiful trees for our zone, especially in late spring when they’re covered in masses of white flowers. A truly stunning addition to a sunny landscape.

Prairifire Crabapple (malus “prairifire”). Many gardeners underestimate the beauty of flowering crabapples. If you’ve ever seen a prarifire in bloom, you have to wonder why they’re not more common. These trees flower so heavily that the entire tree will turn an electric pink in spring. They’re a tremendous accent tree for boulevards and other full sun spots and will reliably grow to 20 feet tall and wide.

Venus Dogwood (cornus x “venus”). If your yard lacks the size for a larger dogwood, a venus dogwood is a great alternative. A hybrid between our Pacific dogwood and Korean dogwood, these boast a jaw-dropping display of flowers and superior disease resistance in a much smaller size. These trees will mature to 15 to 20 feet tall and excel in a spot with full to part sun.

Strawberry Tree (arbutus unedo). One of the few broad-leafed evergreens that will fit into in a small garden. A relative of our native madrona, these small trees excel in the hot summers of southern Vancouver Island. Though it can also be grown as a large shrub, pruning off the lower branches will create a tree with glossy green leaves and beautiful fall fruit up to a height of 12 to 15 feet. A terrific choice for year-round interest, and the birds will love the fruit.

Teddy Bear Magnolia (magnolia grandiflora “southern charm”). Another terrific evergreen is this dwarf cultivar of the southern magnolia. Despite a moderate height of only 20 feet, teddy bear sports the characteristic white flowers and dark green/velvety brown leaves of its (enormous) parent. It does lack the open habit of the southern magnolia in favour of a tight, upright form, so plant it as an accent rather than a shade tree.

To see photographs of the plants listed in the article, visit the blog on our website ( If you need a hand selecting a tree for your property or if you need some help in your garden in 2021, email Good gardening!



Your West Coast Culture. A magazine about the people and places that make the Saanich Peninsula the little piece of paradise we call home.

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