Small trees for the garden

Maple Tree

Trees are important features in any landscape but many modern gardens don’t have the space for a large tree. There is, however, a wide choice of smaller-growing specimens that will add interest to the garden. The following suggestions are all deciduous, so they’ll allow sun through in winter and provide some shade in summer. And winter is the best season to plant any deciduous tree.

Japanese maples

These special favourites (pictured) are much loved. The regular Japanese maple grows into a tidy, small tree that is amazingly hardy, but the true aristocrats of the maple world are the cut-leaf, weeping Japanese maples (Acer palmatum “Dissectum Atropurpureum” is a good example) that are grafted on top of a central trunk. Soft cascades of foliage weep down from this central point to create a waterfall of delicate leaves. These soft leaves can suffer during hot weather, so plan well beforehand to ensure they get maximum protection.

Choose a planting spot that has shelter from the hot afternoon sun. Dig some compost or peatmoss into the soil before planting. At the same time, mix in some pre-swollen Yates Waterwise Water Storing Crystals (these will hold extra moisture for the dry times). Ideally, plant during winter when there’s less risk of damage to the roots. Because these plants are deciduous, their roots will be dormant then, too.

Towards the end of winter, put a layer of organic mulch over the root area.

Weeping mulberry

The weeping mulberry, Morus alba “Pendula” is another excellent small feature tree. It, too, is grafted onto a standard central trunk from which the stems drape down in a vertical arch. Weeping mulberry is very hardy but still appreciates plenty of moisture while it is getting established. After about ten years it will have taken on the shape of a giant toadstool, with the branches weeping downwards. In summer it will form a green tent that provides a great hiding place for kids.

Crepe myrtles

Crepe myrtles are summer-flowering trees that are available in a wide range of colours and sizes. Their ultimate height ranges from about one metre to six or seven, so choose the size that best suits your garden.

It’s a good idea to spray all crepe myrtles in winter with Yates Lime Sulphur. This cleans up some pests and unwanted lichen.


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