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7 Small Trees for Small Gardens in Australia

We explore a range of small trees that are beautifully adapted to thrive in limited spaces.

If you love trees but only have a small garden, don’t worry because there are small trees that are perfectly suited for small spaces. 

Here are some of the best small trees that you might like to consider growing in your own garden.

Japanese Maple

Young Japanese Maple Trees | Plant varieties
Japanese Maple

A few cultivars of the Acer palmatum species will only grow to a height of 4 metres which makes them perfect for small gardens. These are slow-growing trees and will take a few years to reach their maximum height.

They’re also deciduous which means they’ll let the sun through in winter and provide some nice shade in summer.

A couple of outstanding cultivars to consider include:

  • ‘Dissectum Crimsonwave’ with a semi-weeping habit and gorgeous reddish-purple leaves.
  • ‘Dissectum Seiryu’ with an upright growth habit and dark to pale green leaves that turn a gorgeous golden colour and then a bold crimson in autumn.

Cercis chinensis ‘Avondale’

Cercis chinensis ‘Avondale | Plant varieties
Cercis chinensis ‘Avondale’ / Photo by David Stang / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

For a small tree that is truly stunning, you can’t go past this variety. It only grows to 3 metres in height and has large heart-shaped lime green leaves. 

In spring, this tree bursts into colour with masses of bright pink blooms. In autumn, the leaves turn a golden yellow before dropping off.

Crepe Myrtle

crepe myrtle tree | Plant varieties
Crepe Myrtle

Crepe myrtles in the Lagerstroemia indica species generally only reach a height of around 3 to 4 metres. These are also deciduous trees and will put on a magnificent floral display in spring.

Plus, when they are bare in winter, their gorgeous trunks are a feature in themselves.

Some outstanding Crepe myrtle varieties to try are:

  • ‘Acoma Indian Summer’ with lovely white flowers
  • ‘Lipan Indian Summer’ with pretty pale pink flowers
  • ‘Tonto Indian Summer’ with deep pink blooms
  • ‘Zuni Indian Summer’ with bright pink flowers

If you’re looking for an even smaller growing tree, consider the crepe myrtles in the ‘Magic Series’ bred by Flemings Nurseries. Available varieties include:

  • ‘Coral Magic’ with deep pink to red flowers
  • ‘Midnight Magic’ with bright red blooms
  • ‘Sunset Magic’ with stunning russet-coloured blooms

Cinnamon myrtle (Backhousia myrtifolia)

Cinnamon myrtle Backhousia myrtifolia 1 | Plant varieties
Cinnamon myrtle (Backhousia myrtifolia) / Photo by John Moss / Wikimedia

If you’re keen to grow some small native trees in your garden, why not consider the cinnamon myrtle? This gorgeous tree has cinnamon-scented leaves and beautiful cream flowers. 

It only grows to a height of 3 metres and can handle light frosts.

If you prefer a lemon-scented tree, the lemon myrtle (Backhousia citriodora) is your best bet. In sub-tropical areas, it can grow to a height of up to 8 metres.

However, in cooler regions, it might only reach a height of 2 metres.

Pincushion hakea (Hakea laurina)

Hakea laurina | Plant varieties
Hakea laurina / Photo by JJ Harrison / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0

This beautiful hakea has long deeply-veined green leaves and the prettiest cream and pink pompom flowers. The Pincushion hakea can reach a height of between 2.5 to 6 metres.

However, in some areas of Victoria or South Australia, this is regarded as a weed plant so check with your local council.

More than likely, this is because it’s a favourite with black cockatoos who can readily spread the seeds into bushland areas.

Kurrajong (Brachychiton bidwillii)

Brachychiton bidwillii tree | Plant varieties
Brachychiton bidwillii / Photo by Ethel Aardvark / Wikimedia / CC BY 3.0

The Kurrajong is a hardy native tree suitable to most climates. It’s both frost and drought-tolerant and grows to a maximum height of 5 metres. 

This native tree is also deciduous which means you’ll get lovely coloured foliage in autumn.

In late winter to early spring, the tree produces bell-shaped flowers that are dark pink in colour followed by palm-shaped leaves.

Eucalyptus ‘Purple Patch’

Our list of small trees would not be complete without a gum tree. This popular cultivar has long grey-green leaves and bright purple fluffy flowers. It will only reach a height of around 6 metres.

FAQ

What trees grow to around 3 metres?

There are plenty of trees that only grow to around 3 metres in height. Deciduous varieties include many of the crepe myrtle cultivars as well as some of the Japanese maples. Evergreen trees include the cinnamon myrtle (Backhousia myrtifolia) and Eleocarpus ‘Green Dream’.

What type of tree can be planted close to a house?

If you want to plant a tree close to your house, consider ones with small root systems. Some popular choices include Tibouchina lepidota ‘Alstonville’, many of the crepe myrtles in the Lagerstroemia indica species and Japanese maples in the Acer palmatum species.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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