18 Small Trees for Front Yards That Will Add Tons of Color to Your Landscape

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18 Small Trees for Front Yards That Will Add Tons of Color to Your Landscape

Golden Chain Tree Laburnum x watereri

Bill Stites

They may not reach towering heights, but small trees can still pack a big punch in your landscape. Whether you’ve got a modest-size yard or are just running out of room to add more plants, these varieties will fit in perfectly.

Crabapple

Denny Schrock

Add spectacular seasonal flair to your landscape with crabapples. There’s a wide array available that bears flowers in shades of white, pink, and red. Whether they have weeping, rounded, or columnar habits, they’re known for producing orange, gold, red, or burgundy fruit. ‘Prairifire’ is a standout variety that has dark pink flowers, reddish-purple foliage, and great disease resistance. Another popular variety is ‘Centurion’ which has rose-pink flowers, an upright shape, and great disease resistance.

Name: Malus selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun in medium moisture, well-drained soil

Size: From 6 to 30 feet tall and wide, depending on variety

Zones: 4-8

Redbud

Jerry Pavia

Valued for its outstanding display of pink or white flowers in spring, redbud is an easy-to-grow small tree with delightful heart-shape leaves that turn golden-yellow in fall. ‘Forest Pansy’ is a standout variety that has purple foliage which fades to dark green in late summer. Also look for ‘Silver Cloud’ which has white-splashed leaves. ‘Royal White’ clearly stand apart from other flowering tree varieties with its pure-white flowers.

Name: Cercis canadensis

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moisture, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 10 feet tall

Zones: 5-9

Crape Myrtle

Gordon Beall

A common sight in Southern gardens, crape myrtle offers big clusters of frilly flowers in shades of pink, red, lavender, or white in summer and fall. Many varieties show off beautiful red, yellow, or orange foliage in autumn, as well as interesting patches of green or silver on the underside of their peeling cinnamon-color bark. ‘Arapaho’ is a standout variety that has red blooms and purple-tinged foliage and good disease resistance. ‘Catawba’ is also a great pick with its purple flowers, brilliant fall color, and good disease resistance.

Name: Lagerstroemia selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun in medium moisture, well-drained soil

Size: From 6 to 25 feet tall and wide, depending on variety

Zones: 6-9

Note: In some areas, crape myrtles are considered invasive.

Flowering Dogwood

Allen Rokach

One of the most beautiful North American native trees, flowering dogwood bears pink or white springtime flowers, bright red fruits in late summer, and outstanding purple-red fall foliage. If you’re looking for a slightly unique dogwood, check out the variegated foliage and rich pink blooms of ‘Cherokee Sunset’. Also consider looking at ‘Cloud Nine’, a floriferous variety with extra large blooms.

Name: Cornus florida selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moisture, well-drained soil

Size: From 15 to 30 feet tall and wide, depending on variety

Zones: 5-9

Kousa Dogwood

David A Land

Count on kousa dogwood to put on a terrific spring show with its attractive pink or white blooms. This small ornamental tree keeps performing once spring ends. It bears red fruits in late summer and wonderful reddish-purple autumn foliage. It’s typically more disease-resistant than its North American cousin, flowering dogwood. If you’re looking for a variety that has a lot of blooms, consider planting ‘Milky Way’. Another outstanding bloomer with pink flowers is ‘Satomi’.

Name: Cornus kousa selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moisture, well-drained soil

Size: From 15 to 30 feet tall and wide, depending on variety

Zones: 5-8

Note: Kousa dogwood is invasive in certain areas, so be sure to check before planting it.

Saucer Magnolia

David Speer

Offering some of the most beautiful flowers of any tree, the saucer magnolia has large blooms that appear in shades of white, pink, and purple in mid to late spring.

Test Garden Tip: Do some research before buying a magnolia to make sure you have the best selection for your climate. Some types, while hardy, suffer flower damage from late frosts.

Name: Magnolia x soulangeana

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 25 feet tall and wide

Zones: 4-9

Fringe Tree

Susan A. Roth

Native to parts of Eastern North America, fringe tree is a versatile plant you can grow as a large shrub or small tree. Fringe trees offer clouds of fragrant white flowers in late spring that turn into clusters of blue-purple fruits in fall. The fruits are sure to attract birds.

Name: Chionanthus virginicus

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moisture, well-drained soil

Size: From 12 to 20 feet tall and wide

Zones: 3-9

Golden Chain Tree

Golden Chain Tree Laburnum x watereri

Bill Stites

Magnificent when it blooms in late spring and early summer, golden chain tree produces hanging clusters of yellow flowers that resemble wisteria. Its flowers give way to seedpods that ripen in the fall. The tree’s green, clover-like foliage is attractive, too.

Name: Laburnum x watereri

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moisture, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 30 feet tall and wide

Zones: 5-7

Carolina Silverbell

Susan A. Roth

Enjoy a delightful early-spring show from Carolina silverbell. This small ornamental tree (or large shrub, depending on how you prune it) displays dangling clusters of white bell-shape flowers just before it leafs out. Then in fall, its foliage turns a delightful shade of yellow. Named varieties of this tree can be hard to come by, but look for ‘Rosea’, which has pink flowers or ‘Tyler’s Variegated’, which has yellow-and-green foliage.

Name: Halesia tetraptera

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moisture, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 40 feet tall and 35 feet wide

Zones: 4-8

10

Hawthorn

Attracting pollinators in early summer with sprays of fragrant, white flowers, hawthorn is a dense, low-branched tree that is armed with numerous large thorns. In late summer and fall, it attracts birds with its small red fruits. The orange-red autumn color adds another layer of appeal.

Name: Crataegus crus-galli

Growing Conditions: Full sun in medium moisture, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 25 feet tall and 35 feet wide

Zones: 3-7

11

Japanese Maple

Few plants are more beautiful than a Japanese maple in its full fall finery. And happily, there are numerous ways to use this little tree in your yard; try it as a specimen in a partly shaded spot, for example, or use it as a focal point in a mixed border. ‘Bloodgood’ is a common selection with fine-texture burgundy foliage that turns red in autumn. ‘Sango-kaku’ is another great choice that has red branches that stand out after it loses its foliage in fall.

Name: Acer palmatum selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 20 feet tall and wide

Zones: 5-8

Note: Japanese maples are considered invasive in some areas.

12

Serviceberry

The ultimate small tree (it’s also native) for four-season beauty, serviceberry bears slightly fragrant, white flowers in drooping clusters before the leaves emerge in early spring. The flowers give way to small, round green berries which turn red and mature to delicious dark blue fruits which are often used in jams, jellies, and pies. The finely toothed leaves have outstanding red fall color. In winter, its silvery gray bark adds interest.

Name: Amelanchier selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moisture, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 25 feet tall and wide

Zones: 4-9

13

Mountain Stewartia

An elegant small tree with beautiful flowers in midsummer, mountain stewartia is an uncommon tree that deserves a prominent position in your landscape. It’s noted for its camellia-like flowers and dark green summer foliage. This relatively slow-growing native of Southeastern North America puts on a terrific fall show when the leaves turn orange and red.

Name: Stewartia ovata

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moisture, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 15 feet tall and wide

Zones: 5-9

14

Snowbell

Offering subtle beauty to the landscape, snowbell produces white bell-shape flowers that hang from the branches among the leaves. Its mildly fragrant blossoms become blue-gray fruits in fall when the leaves turn shades of reddish-yellow. Some standout varieties include ‘Pink Chimes’ bears pink bells instead of white; ‘Pendula’ has an exceptionally graceful weeping form; and ‘Crystal’ has a columnar form.

Name: Styrax japonicus

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moisture, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 30 feet tall and wide

Zones: 5-9

15

Pagoda Dogwood

A favorite of wildlife gardeners, pagoda dogwood is a North American native species that produces clusters of blue-purple berries in summer that attract birds. The early-summer flowers attract bees and other pollinators, too. Like other dogwoods, this tree develops wonderful fall color and tolerates shade. Be sure to look for the following varieties with amazing fall color: ‘Golden Shadows’ has bold, yellow-edge foliage in spring and summer; ‘Argentea’ has leaves edged in white; and Gold Bullion has golden-yellow foliage.

Name: Cornus alternifolia

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moisture, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 25 feet tall and 32 feet wide

Zones: 3-7

16

Japanese Tree Lilac

If you love lilacs, check out Japanese tree lilac. This species has clusters of fragrant creamy-white flowers in early summer, after all the other lilacs have finished blooming. Though its fall color isn’t particularly showy, the shiny copper-color bark stands out in winter. If you’re looking for an especially floriferous variety, consider ‘Snowdance’; it blooms at a younger age than most. ‘Golden Eclipse’ is another showstopper with its golden-edge foliage.

Name: Syringa reticulata

Growing Conditions: Full sun in medium moisture, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 30 feet tall and 20 feet wide

Zones: 3-7

17

Chaste Tree

Dan Piassick

If you’re looking to add a tree to your drought-tolerant garden plan, consider planting a chaste tree which starts its show in early to mid autumn, producing delightful clusters of lavender, blue, or white flowers. The toothed, dark-green foliage is attractive from spring to fall, providing the perfect backdrop to help the flowers stand out. Two standout varieties are ‘Abbeville Blue’ with its deep blue flowers and ‘Silver Spire’ with its pure-white flowers.

Name: Vitex agnus-castus

Growing Conditions: Full sun in medium moisture, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 10 feet tall and 8 feet wide

Zones: 6-9

Note: This tree is considered invasive in some areas, so check to see if it’s problematic in your area before planting it.

18

Powder Puff

Whether you grow it as a large shrub or prune it as a small tree, powder puff will delight you with its fluffy and fragrant red, pink, or white summertime flowers. It’s a heat-loving, drought-resistant variety good for the warmest areas of California, Texas, and Florida.

Name: Calliandra haematocephala

Growing Conditions: Full sun in moist, fertile soil

Size: Up to 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide

Zones: 9-11

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can small trees grow in pots?

    Yes. For best results, seek out dwarf varieties or trees that naturally grow to under 10 feet at maturity and choose a container that is at least twice the width and depth of the tree’s root ball. Be sure to select a slow-growing tree (12 inches or less per year is ideal) that will not quickly outgrow its living quarters—like a Japanese maple or ‘Little Gem’ magnolia tree. Be prepared to move the tree to a larger pot every two to three years as the tree grows to maturity (or sooner if you purchase a faster-growing tree).

  • Which small trees are best for a privacy screen?

    The best trees for privacy boast dense foliage, grow quickly to at least six to eight feet in height, and thrive when planted close together. Popular choices for evergreen privacy screens include dwarf cypress trees, arborvitae, holly, lilac, and some varieties of juniper. You could also mix things up by planting crabapple with redbud, dogwood, juniper, or holly alongside each other to create a living fence with enough plant diversity to truly thrive.

  • What are the fastest-growing small trees?

    If you are looking to fill a space quickly, several small trees—like crape myrtle, crabapple, eastern redbud, and flowering dogwood—will do just that.

Most Popular Flowers & Plants in the USA

RegionPopular FlowersPopular Plants
Northeast (e.g., New York, Massachusetts)Rose, Purple Lilac, Mountain LaurelSugar Maple, American Elm, White Pine
Southeast (e.g., Florida, Georgia)Orange Blossom, Cherokee Rose, Southern MagnoliaLive Oak, Spanish Moss, Saw Palmetto
Midwest (e.g., Ohio, Illinois)Carnation, Violet, Purple ConeflowerBur Oak, Prairie Grasses, Wild Bergamot
Southwest (e.g., Texas, Arizona)Bluebonnet, Saguaro Cactus Flower, Indian PaintbrushJoshua Tree, Agave, Mesquite
West (e.g., California, Washington)California Poppy, Coast Rhododendron, BitterrootGiant Sequoia, Redwood, Manzanita
Rocky Mountain (e.g., Colorado, Montana)Rocky Mountain Columbine, Bitterroot, Indian PaintbrushBlue Spruce, Aspen, Sagebrush
Great Plains (e.g., Kansas, Nebraska)Sunflower, Goldenrod, Purple ConeflowerCottonwood, Bluestem Grasses, Buffalo Grass
Pacific Northwest (e.g., Oregon, Alaska)Oregon Grape, Forget-me-not, Pacific RhododendronDouglas Fir, Western Hemlock, Ferns

This table includes the most popular flowers and plants in the USA by region, which considers a range of botanical species, including native and widely cultivated varieties.

Most Popular Flowers & Plants in Australia

RegionPopular FlowersPopular Plants
New South WalesWaratah, Bottlebrush, Flannel FlowerEucalyptus, Acacia, Banksia
VictoriaCommon Heath, Waxflower, Pink HeathMountain Ash, Silver Wattle, Victorian Blue Gum
QueenslandCooktown Orchid, Golden Penda, Umbrella Tree FlowerMoreton Bay Fig, Macadamia Nut, Queensland Bottle Tree
South AustraliaSturt's Desert Pea, Kangaroo Paw, Eucalyptus BlossomAdelaide Blue Gum, South Australian Blue Gum, Saltbush
Western AustraliaRed and Green Kangaroo Paw, Mangles Kangaroo Paw, Swan River DaisyJarrah, Marri, Karri
TasmaniaTasmanian Blue Gum, Leatherwood Flower, Tasmanian WaratahHuon Pine, Tasmanian Oak, Myrtle Beech
Northern TerritorySturt's Desert Rose, Frangipani, Desert RoseBoab, Gidgee, Spinifex
Australian Capital TerritoryRoyal Bluebell, Australian Daisy, CorreaSnow Gum, River Red Gum, Black Mountain

This table offers a basic overview of popular flowers and plants in each Australian region, focusing on a combination of state flowers, native species, and other characteristic plants. It's important to note that specific species' popularity and prevalence can vary. This table is a simplified representation. Consulting local botanical gardens or regional horticultural societies in Australia would be ideal for more detailed and accurate information.

Charlotte Gammon

By Charlotte Gammon

Meet Charlotte Gammon, our expert and author. She's our true treasure, as she has got 20+ years of experience in gardening, winery and house design. In early 2000s, she worked for today.com magazine and was in charge of the gaardening section. Later on, Charlotte opened her own designer agency and worked as a designer and decorator. We are happy to have Charlotte with us, as she is our good friend. We value her experience and we're sure you will love the articles she created for our blog.