no. 7.418

Small Deciduous Trees

by J.E. Klett and C. Wilson* (12/11)

Quick Facts...

  • Consider available space, protection, growth rate and soil adaptability when selecting small trees.
  • If space allows, several kinds of small trees provide varied foliage, flowers, bark, fruit and fall color for year round interest.
  • Make sure the water requirements of the tree match the conditions at your site.
  • Look for new varieties of small trees that are continually introduced.

Selection and Planting

Examine the proposed site before planting trees. Allow adequate width to keep walkways, entryways, driveways or buildings clear of overhanging branches. Many small trees, although short, can spread as much laterally as vertically.

Soil. Prepare soil before planting. Loosen it several feet in all directions from the spot you wish to plant. If the soil is heavy clay and hard to work, add aged manure or compost, and work it into the soil at least 12 inches deep. A wider selection of trees is available for planting on long-cultivated soils than new sites.

Color and texture. For variety, plant several kinds of trees if space allows. Through careful selection, you can have flowers, colorful and interesting bark and fruits, varied foliage texture, and fall colors for year round interest. Coordinate with other plants and elements of your overall landscape design.

Water. Match the plant with the moisture conditions of the site. Low-moisture trees planted in an irrigated lawn grow too fast. On the other hand, trees that require moderate to heavy moisture do poorly in areas where little or no supplemental water can be applied.

Protection. Microclimate sites protected by buildings, fences and larger trees offer greater opportunities for tree selection than open, exposed locations.

Recommended Trees

Table 1 includes small trees that are useful for privacy screening as well as landscape interest. Most can be used beneath power lines with little or no need for pruning to maintain clearance. The key to symbols used in the table is given below.

Growth rate:

  • f = fast
  • m = moderate
  • s = slow

Soil moisture:

  • L = low-water needs; can withstand drought.
  • M = moderate water needs; normal lawn watering.
  • H = heavy water needs; more than normal lawn watering.

 
Table 1: Small deciduous trees for privacy and color.
Plant Name Height
(ft.)
Spread
(ft.)
Shape Growth
Rate
Soil
Moisture
Remarks
Acer campestre
   Hedge maple
25 25 Rounded m M Dark green leaves, yellow fall color, tolerant of alkaline soils.
Acer ginnala
   Amur maple
20 15 Broad, spreading m H Sometimes shrubby; scarlet fall color; avoid alkaline soils.
Acer glabrum
   Rocky Mountain
    maple
15 15 Upright, Oval m M Native, small tree or large shrub, gray bark, yellow fall color, bright red winter buds.
Acer grandidentatum
   Wasatch maple
25 15 Broad, spreading m L Survives in very dry sites once established; orange-red fall color.
Acer tataricum    Tatarian maple

   Hot Wings® Maple

20


20

20


20

Irregular, rounded

Rounded,
spreading

m


m

L


M

Single or multi-stemmed tree, pink to red winged seeds in summer, yellow fall color, tolerant of alkaline soils, more adaptable than Amur maple.

Red-winged seeds in summer, very ornamental. Orange-red fall color.

Alnus tenuifolia
   Thinleaf alder
15 12 Upright, oval m H Use in moist sites; cone-like fruit clusters persist in winter, tend to form clumps.
Amelanchier
canadensis

   Shadblow
    serviceberry
25 20 Upright, rounded m M Showy, white flowers in spring; red fruits attract birds, red-orange fall color.
Amelanchier x grandiflora
   'Autumn Brillance'
   Autumn Brilliance
    serviceberry
20 15 Rounded m M White flowers, red to purple fruit, orange to red fall color, single-stemmed tree or multi-stemmed shrub.
Amelanchier laevis
   Allegheny
    serviceberry
20 15 Upright, Irregular m M Multi-stemmed tree, early spring white flowers, late purple fruits attract birds, tolerant of alkaline soils, yellow to orange fall color.
Betula occidentalis
   Rocky Mountain
    or water birch
20 15 Upright, rounded m H Use in moist soils; yellow fall color, tends to form clumps, cherry-brown bark.
Carpinus caroliniana
   American hornbeam
25 25 Rounded, spreading

s-m M Low branched smooth gray bark, "muscled" branches, yellow-orange fall color.
Cercis canadensis
   Eastern redbud
25 25 Upright, spreading m M Early pink flowers along twig before foliage; plant in part shade, heart shaped leaves.
Cornus alternifolia
   Pagoda dogwood
20 20 Rounded m M Horizontal branching, creamy-white flowers followed by blue-black fruit, red to purple fall color.
Cornus mas
   Cornelian cherry
    dogwood
20 15 Rounded m M Early yellow flowers before foliage, bright red fruit in summer.
Corylus colurna
   Turkish filbert
40 35 Pyramidal m M Dark green leaves turn yellow in fall. Adaptable to many soils.
Crataegus ambigua
    Russian hawthorn
20 15 Upright, spreading m L Finely cut, glossy leaves; white flowers; persistent, red fruit.

Crataegus crus-galli
   Cockspur hawthorn

   var. inermis
   Thornless cockspur
    hawthorn

20

 

15

20

 

15

Broad rounded

Broad, rounded

m

 

m

L

 

L

Showy, white flowers; red fruit; glossy foliage; thorny; attract birds.

Thornless, other characteristics same as species.

Crataegus mollis
   Downy hawthorn
25 20 Broad globe m M Showy, white flowers in spring; red fruit in late summer; bronze fall color, stout thorns.
Crataegus
phaenopyrum

   Washington
    hawthorn
20 15 Upright, spreading m M White flowers; showy, orange-red fruit; red-orange fall color; narrow thorns.
Crataegus viridis
   ‘Winter King’
   Winter King
    hawthorn
20 20 Broad,
spreading
m L White flowers followed by persistent red fruit. Few thorns.
Crataegus x mordenensis
   'Toba'
   Toba hawthorn
15 15 Rounded m M Fragrant, double, white flowers, age to pink; red fruit, short thorns.
Euonymus bungeanus
   Winterberry
20 18 Rounded m M Horizontal to pendulous branching, yellow to red fall color, pink fruit capsules open to reveal orange seeds.
Euonymus europaeus
   European euonymus
15 15 Rounded m M Pink to red fruit capsules open to expose orange seeds. Red to purple fall color.
Koelreuteria paniculata
   Goldenrain tree
25
 
20 Upright, rounded m L Best grown on dry sites to avoid fast, brittle branch growth; large panicles of yellow flowers in summer; Chinese lantern-like pods.

Malus spp.

   Crabapple
   'Brandywine®'

   'Centurion,'

   'Coralburst®'


   'David'


   'Dolgo'


   'Indian Summer'


   'Prairie fire'


   'Radiant'


   ‘Red Barron’


   sargentii 'Tina'


   'Spring Snow'

Varies

20


20


15


15


30


15


20


20


18


8


20

Varies

20


10


15


15


25


15


20


20


10


10


15

Varies

Rounded


Upright


Rounded


Rounded


Spreading


Rounded

 

Upright,
spreading


Rounded


Columnar


Spreading

Upright,
rounded

m-f

m-f


m-f


m-f


m-f


m-f


m-f


m-f


m-f


m-f


m-f


m-f

M-L

M-L


M-L


M-L


M-L


M-L


M-L


M-L


M-L


M-L


M-L


M-L

Many varieties available.

Double pink flowers, large green fruit. More resistant to fireblight than 'Bechtel'.

Pink to red flowers; red fruit; red to bronze foliage.


Red buds open to semi-double pink flowers, few bronze fruit. Resistant to fireblight.

Pink buds open to white flowers, yellow-red fruit matures to red. Resistant to fireblight.

White flowers; crimson fruit, yellow bark, resistant to fireblight.

Rose-red flowers, red fruits. Resistant to fireblight.


Purple-red leaves turn green. Pink flowers. Dark red persistent fruit.


Single, pink-red flowers; red-purple fruit.


Purple folliage turns bronze-red. Red flowers produce dark persistent fruit.


Dwarf, red buds open to white flowers, red fruit.

White flowers, usually fruitless; dense foliage, yellow bark.

Populus tremuloides
   Quaking aspen
30 15 Upright,
columnar
f M Best in moist well drained soil; pest prone and shorter lived at lower Front Range elevations and in heavy soils; root suckkers form clumps.

Prunus cerasifera 'Newport'
   Newport plum
20 20 Upright, rounded m-f M Pinkish-white flowers followed by maroon-red foliage; avoid wet sites.
Prunus maackii
   Amur chokecherry
25 25 Upright, rounded m M Striking, shiny, orange-red bark; white flowers, black fruit, avoid heavy soils.

Prunus nigra 'Princess Kay'
    Princess Kay plum
15 10 Upright, vase m M Double white flowers before leaves, orange-red fall color, dark brown-black bark.

Prunus padus var. commutata
   Mayday Tree
30 15 Rounded m M Fragrant chains of white flowers in spring; purple-black fruit.

Prunus virginiana 'Shubert'
   Canada red
    chokecherry
25 20 Rounded f M New green growth turns purple-red, white flowers, purple fruit, suckers like aspen.

Ptelea trifoliata
   Wafer ash, Hoptree
15 15 Rounded m M-L Native multi-stemmed tree, persistent wafer-like fruit, golden-yellow fall color.

Pyrus calleryana
   Callery pear
   'Autum Blaze'


   'Chanticleer®'
    or 'Cleveland Select'


   'Redspire'

Varies

30



25


25

Varies

15



15


10

Varies

Pyramidal, rounded


Pyramidal, upright

Pyramidal, upright

m

m



m


m

M

M



M


M

 

Good cold hardiness, white flowers, crimson fall color.


White flowers, red-purple fall color.


Large white flower clusters, crimson-purple fall color.

Pyrus ussuriensis
   'Prairie Gem'
   Prairie Gem pear
20 18 Rounded m M-L Yellowish-brown bark, many white flowers, thick glossy green leaves, golden-yellow fall color.
Quercus gambelii
   Gambel oak
15 10 Upright, clump s L Forms groves by creeping roots; often shrubby; needs well-drained soil; golden-yellow fall color.
Robinia pseudoacacia
   'Purple Robe'
   Purple Robe locust
30 25 Upright, rounded f M-L Bronze-red new foliage turns blue-green, showy dark rose-pink flowers, can have small thorns, subject to locust borer and branch breakage.

Sorbus aucuparia
   European mountain
    ash

   'Cardinal Royal'


20


25


15


15


Oval


Narrow oval


m


m


M


M

Smooth gray-brown bark, malodorous white flowers, persistent orange-red fruit, yellow to red-purple fall color.

Straight trunk, dark green leaves turn russet-red in fall, red fruit, best in well drained soils.

Syringa reticulata
   Japanese tree lilac


   'Ivory Silk'

20



15

20



15

Rounded



Compact, oval

m



m

M



M

Creamy panicles of fragrant flowers in late spring, red-brown shredding bark.


Creamy white flowers, cherry-like bark.

1J.E. Klett, Colorado State University Extension specialist and professor; horticulture and landscape architecture; and C. Wilson, Extension horticulture agent, Denver County. 9/92. Revised 12/11.

Go to top of this page.

Updated Tuesday, July 22, 2014

CSU Homepage | FileShare | Disclaimer | Equal Opportunity | Privacy Policy | Search CSU | Webmaster

Partners       |       Non-Discrimination Statement      |       ©2014 Colorado State University Extension