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 second of a two part small tree feature, here are five more fabulous pint sized tree ideas:
Cercis canadiensis ‘Forest Pansy’ is a stunning small deciduous tree that grows to around 5 m tall. It has masses of pink flowers along the branches in spring, followed by eye-catching burgundy heart shaped leaves which change to green during summer then autumnal tones as the weather cools. It does best in cool and temperate climates in moist but well-drained soil and prefers some protection from hot drying winds.
Deciduous magnolias – late winter and early spring are when the bare branches of deciduous magnolias are smothered in stunning large goblet shaped flowers. They are truly gorgeous and absolutely traffic stopping. The range of flower colours include burgundy, white, magenta, purple, hot pink and eye catching yellow. Some magnolias are fragrant and there are also variations in flower type, including the multi-petaled star shaped ‘stellata’. Magnolias are slow growing trees that do best in fertile slightly acidic soil. They grow well in cool to warm temperate zones and need protection from winds and frosts. Leaves can be damaged during hot dry weather and so deciduous magnolias will look their best if grown in a semi-shaded position that is protected from harsh afternoon sun.
Evergreen magnolias - ‘Little Gem’, ‘Teddy Bear’ and ‘Kay Parris’ are some of the gorgeous smaller varieties of evergreen magnolias now available. They have beautiful large, perfumed white flowers during the warmer months and glossy dark green leaves with a coppery-brown underside, which creates an additional colour feature when the leaves are moving in the wind. The compact nature of these magnolias makes them perfect home garden trees. Little Gem can grow up to 6 m tall and Teddy Bear and Kay Parris a smaller 4 m tall. Evergreen magnolias can be pruned during winter if required.
Ivory curl tree (Buckinghamia celsissima) – this Australian native evergreen tree will reach around eight metres tall in most temperate and sub-tropical gardens. In summer, ivory curl trees are smothered in cream flowers that attract bees and nectar feeding birds.
Frangipani - bringing a tropical feel to temperate and warm climate gardens, frangipanis are predominantly deciduous trees that have lush leaves and beautifully fragrant flowers in summer. Frangipanis can grow up to 8 m tall however for small spaces look for compact varieties. During hot and dry weather, frangipanis will appreciate a deep watering once a week, especially if the tree is still young and the root system is small. There’s no need to keep the soil constantly moist as frangipanis do best in slightly drier conditions.
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.