Trees are a vital part the urban landscape. They provide valuable shade and shelter, important habitat and forage for birds, insects and animals, create structure and focus in a garden and can also have magnificent foliage colour and flowers.
As backyards shrink, choosing appropriately sized trees becomes more challenging. However clever plant breeders and nurseries are regulary introducing new trees that are much more compact and perfectly suited to limited spaces. So you can still have trees in a small backyard!
In the first of a two part small tree feature, here are five fabulous pint sized tree ideas:
Crepe myrtles – these are hardy deciduous trees that have attractive bark, colourful autumn foliage and stunning bee-attracting flowers in summer. Dwarf crepe myrtles grow to around 3-4 m tall, so are great for a small backyard.
Dwarf Corymbia – we can’t all have a large gum tree in our backyard however grafted dwarf flowering gums are becoming very popular and enable small space gardeners to grow this Australian icon. Many are now classified as ‘Corymbia’ rather than eucalypts and come in a stunning range of flower colours, from cream to beautiful shades of pink and scarlet and fire engine red. The smallest varieties grow to around 2 – 3 m tall and their summer flowers are a magnet for bees and birds.
Flower tip: once the gum has finished flowering trim off the spent flower heads or better still, cut some flowering stems for a vase display.
Japanese maples - ideal for sheltered cool and temperate gardens, Japanese maples have glorious autumn foliage and many having stunning bark. Ideal for planting during winter while they are dormant, look for dwarf varieties that only reach 3 – 4 m tall. They love moist, well-drained soil and protection from harsh afternoon sun.
Lily Pilly: These fantastic Australian native plants range from small shrubs to large trees and boast lush evergreen foliage that can help create a great screen or provide shade. For small spaces look for varieties like ‘Cascade’, which grows to around 3 m tall and has pink summer flowers and reddish new foliage or ‘Winter Lights’ which has bronze new growth and white flowers in summer.
Tibouchina: covered in intense purple, lilac or pink flowers in late summer and autumn they can definitely brighten up backyard. There are tiny tibouchinas available, growing to a compact 45 cm tall, however for a beautiful backyard tree look for varieties like Alstonville.
When planting a new tree, check for the proximity to water pipes, overhead and underground electricity wires and also consider the eventual full-grown size of the tree. Many trees can be pruned to a more manageable size if required.
Deciduous trees are ideal for planting during winter while they are dormant and leafless. Evergreen trees can also be planted during winter however in cold areas delay planting until the risk of frost has passed to reduce damage to tender foliage.
When planting a new tree, including Australian native plants, incorporate some Yates® Dynamic Lifter® Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser into the planting hole. This will help to improve the water and nutrient holding capacity of the soil, add valuable organic matter and provide the new tree with gentle slow release organic nutrients as it establishes.
Keep the new tree well-watered during the first 12 months, particularly during its first summer. Applying mulch around the base of the tree will help conserve soil moisture.