A small garden quickly reaches its limits with most trees. And there is not enough space on the balcony for meter-high trees. Nevertheless, you do not have to do without a beautiful copy there either. Regular pruning is always necessary to keep trees small. However, it will be easier for you if you plant a smaller cultivar right away.

Choose appropriate types and varieties

It is generally possible to keep all types of trees small, but with naturally vigorous tree species such as oak, linden or maple, this involves a lot of effort. However, with the choice of the right variety, many popular garden trees can be cultivated in the smallest of spaces. There are a number of varieties that only have a short stature from the outset. There are also numerous breeds of dwarf varieties of large trees. Regular pruning makes it relatively easy to limit the growth of these trees.

  • choose small forms for outdoor planting
  • in the bucket: in principle all tree species that are compatible with pruning (as bonsai)
  • Dwarfs can often be recognized by the addition “Nana” in the botanical name

Compact growth forms

In addition to the option of using dwarf forms of popular garden trees, there are also a wide variety of growth forms that do not tend to grow lush, so it is easy to keep the trees small.

1. Spindle and column shapes

Narrow, columnar tree species are ideal for small gardens and balconies. They create structure and their growth is easy to keep in check. We know these columnar forms from different types of fruit trees such as the columnar apple or the columnar cherry. But there are also many other tree species.

  • Fruit trees
  • Column mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia ‘Fastigiata’)
  • Columnar hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna ‘Stricta’)
  • Column hornbeam (Carpinus betulus ‘Monumentalis’)
  • Columnar cherry (Prunus serrulata ‘Amonogawa’)
  • Yellow column beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Dawyck Gold’)
  • Column beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Dawyck Purple’)
  • Red-leaved column elder (Sambucus nigra ‘Black Tower’)
Tip: If you want to keep these garden trees small, you only have to perform regular topiary pruning in summer. In the case of flowering trees such as the ornamental cherry, pruning is preferred after flowering.

2. spherical trees

Another way to limit the height of garden trees is to choose spherical trees. When buying, you can decide how high the maple trees should be, for example, because they are offered with different trunk heights. In the following years only the crown grows, which is easy to tame with an annual topiary. Uncut, the crowns can be up to 5 meters wide, so an annual cut is essential.

  • most popular species: ball maple (Acer platanoides ‘Globosum’)
  • Kugelrobinie (Robinia pseudoacacia ‚Umbraculifera‘)
  • Kugeltrompetenbaum (Catalpa bignoides ‚Nana‘)
Tip: Ball trees are only suitable for outdoor planting; they are usually too big for cultivation on the balcony.

3. High trunk

Ornamental shrubs and garden trees that are formed as a high trunk require very little space. These garden trees, which are offered with different trunk heights, are attractive because they naturally do not grow much taller with age. Only the crown becomes a little wider.

  • Harlekinweide (Salix integra ‚Hakuru Niskishi ‘)
  • Mandelbäumchen (Prunus triloba)
  • Zwergflieder (Syringa meyeri ‚Palibin ‘)
  • Roter Schlitzahorn (Acer palmatum ‚Dissectum Garnet‘)

4. Hanging forms

Who does not know it, the classic representative among the garden trees with overhanging crown: the hanging willow, also known as the hanging kitten willow. As soon as the branches begin to overhang downwards, the final height has been reached. Often these are refined forms that are grafted onto a robust, weakly growing base. The most popular representatives include:

  • Hängeweide (Salix caprea ‚Pendula‘)
  • Red beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Purple Fountain’)
  • Willow-leaved pear (Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’)
  • Japanese hanging larch (Larix kaempferi ‘Pendula’)

5. Topiary

It is particularly easy to keep trees small that are cultivated as topiary. The Buxbaum is one of the most popular representatives. These trees grow extremely slowly and are perfect for garden design, small gardens as well as terraces and balconies thanks to a moderate shape cut once or twice a year.

  • Boxwood (Buxus)
  • Thuja Pon Pon
  • Eibe (Taxus baccata)

6. Bonsai and container plants

As long as the roots of a tree can spread unhindered, it will sprout and grow again vigorously after a cut. In order to keep a tree really small, it is therefore necessary to limit the growth of the roots as well. This is best done in a bucket or bowl. This method is also used when growing bonsai.

  • Keep the crown compact with a regular cut
  • Adjust the planter to the size of the roots
  • rather a little too small than too big
  • Repot young plants annually
  • older plants every two to three years
  • cut back about 20% of the roots
  • Cultivate in the same pot as long as possible
  • use only high quality substrate
  • always ensure sufficient moisture

The first and most important step in keeping trees small is choosing the right variety. Nevertheless, a regular cut is necessary, even at a young age. It is particularly important to carry out the pruning consistently, because this is the only way to keep the growth of the woody plants back in a controlled manner.

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