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Mountain Gardening: Trees for Rocky Mountain Gardens

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Are you looking for a small tree to plant in your small landscape? Here are three small trees that can make a big impact in your Rocky Mountain garden.

Small peach tree in bloom
Flat-Top peaches on small peach tree

Small Trees With Ornamental Features

When it came time to find a new tree for my mother-in-law's pocket-size backyard, I was a bit like Goldilocks. This tree had to be jusssst right.

It couldn't be too tall or grow too wide, and it had to have other ornamental features besides leaves for shade in summer.

It took awhile to find the perfect small tree, but it was well worth the effort. We planted a Flat-Top Peach (Prunus persica 'Saturn') on Mother's Day weekend, and the next year this little tree rewarded us with dozens of delicious, sweet fruits.

Crabapple trees for small gardens

Small Trees Fill Small Spaces

Before selecting "Peachy," I thought about planting an ornamental crabapple. But I quickly changed my mind because I didn't want to be in charge of harvesting the crabapples every year.

But tree researchers, breeders, and growers are getting the message that gardeners need a new crop of crabapples to fill small backyards. Since 1984 the National Crabapple Evaluation Program has worked to find new disease-resistant varieties of this popular spring bloomer.

One new crabapple is the Coralburst (Malus 'Coralburst'). This crabapple tree is small enough to be a patio tree and is especially attractive because it develops few, if any, crabapples.

The National Arboretum recommends the Adirondack crabapple (Malus 'Adirondack') because of its narrow-vase shape and 18-foot stature.

Tatarian maple 'Hot Wings'

Small Maple Tree Adds Seasonal Interest

One of the most attractive small maple trees I've seen is the Tatarian maple called 'Hot Wings' (Acer tataricum).

The tree gets its name from its brilliant-red wing-shape seeds, called samaras, that stand out from bright-green leaves in summer. The leaves provide vibrant fall color too.

This maple can be grown as a small tree or a large shrub and can reach 18 feet in about 12 years.

What's your favorite small tree for small landscapes?