If you have a smaller yard, it can be difficult to find the best trees to plant. Many of the trees recommended for planting in Pennsylvania yards are larger and suited for homes that have a bunch of space for the trees to grow and flourish. However, there are so many smaller trees that can also grow extremely well in State College’s climate – including some trees that are unique.

You don’t have to be afraid to have a yard that looks like anyone else’s. With a few astute purchases, your yard can be easy to take care of, beautiful, and set you apart from your neighbors, even if it is on the small side. The key is to make the most of what you have.

Here are our top picks for the best trees for small yards:

1. Ginkgo Biloba ‘Mariken’ Tree

  • Completely ornamental
  • Short structure and dense foliage
  • Mature height is 2-3 feet

A rarely seen and beautiful tree, the ball-shaped Ginkgo Biloba ‘Mariken’ flattens as it grows, which means that it spreads instead of growing too tall. You do not need to tie or wire it to get that beautiful shape.  For those who do not have a lot of time to take care of trees, this could be one of the best options. It enjoys full sun and requires only a bit of attention. It is naturally resistant to pests and diseases, including deer. Even better, it is tolerant of air pollution.

According to the Arbor Day Foundation, the Ginkgo tree has adapted for use as a street tree, even in confined soil spaces. This means that you can put it in smaller yards without fear. One thing to make sure that you do is to give it adequate water if we go through a drought. Other than that, you can pretty much let it be.

2. Emerald Green Arborvitae

  • Cost effective
  • Makes the perfect privacy screen
  • Typically grows 8-12 feet

If you are looking for a tree that stays green for a majority of the year, doesn’t require much work, and can even give you some privacy, the emerald green arborvitae is a perfect choice. Cost-effective, you may want to buy a few of them to separate your yard from the road, a neighbor’s house, or even section off a shed. These trees are extremely hardy and won’t invite pests into your yard. However, they do require some pruning if you prefer that manicured look. If you don’t, you can also let them go fairly wild.

According to The Spruce, “‘Emerald Green’ is a semi-dwarf cultivar that has a narrow pyramid shape. The foliage consists of flat sprays of glossy bright green. The tree has urn-shaped cones about 1/2 inch long that turn reddish brown in fall. Most specimens are 7 to 15 feet in height, occasionally reaching 20 feet.”

Once again, you can prune these down so that they stay the shape that you like and so that they stay smaller – you will be able to catch a tree that is growing too tall. You really don’t have to worry about these growing too wide.

3. Little Gem Magnolia Tree

  • Best for full sun
  • More manageable than the Southern Magnolia
  • Grows 15-20 feet tall

What once wasn’t a great choice for State College homes is now becoming more and more common. Magnolia trees are messy and a lot of people don’t actually like to have them, but the Little Gem is different. While they do have some clean-up and you should prune them from time to time, they are easier to take care of by far. You still get the perks of the magnolia tree.

Many people like to train them against walls or fences, according to Monrovia. This helps for those yards that don’t have space but you still want to add some natural beauty. One thing you do have to worry about in our climate is whether or not it gets too hot for them. You want to ensure that these trees stay as hydrated as possible.

4. Chicago Hardy Fig Tree

  • These trees can handle almost any weather condition
  • Can fruit the first year you have it
  • Grows 15-30 feet

Stark Bro’s Nurseries gives the best overview of this tree: “Productive and easy to grow. Bears delicious medium-size figs. Exhibits drought-tolerance once established. May die back in colder climates and resume growth in spring. Bears fruit early on new growth. Fruit produced on the older wood will appear in early summer and fruit on new growth will appear in early fall. Ripe fruit has a dark mahogany color. Originates from Sicily. Grows well in containers! Heat-tolerant. Ripens in July through frost. Self-pollinating.”

If you haven’t had the best luck in planting fruit trees, this is certainly one that should help to give you confidence. There are very few things you can do to this tree to kill it. It might look like it has died, but it will come back the next spring. You do want to keep it free from pests and definitely use those figs – they are quite tasty and really good for you. Another bonus is that you can start this tree in a pot and keep it there if you want, making it a great choice for apartments or condos.

If you are in need of a go-to tree service contractor in the State College, PA area, contact Cutting Edge Tree Professionals today. We are a professional team of skilled professionals that take tree maintenance, in yards of all sizes, incredibly seriously. Your trees and your safety and security mean a lot to us, so we want to do whatever we can to make you enjoy your time outside as much as possible.

Give us a call today at (814) 240-2172, and we can come to your home to perform any maintenance needed throughout the tree care process or even in the event of an unexpected emergency. We are always here to help you.

Header photo courtesy of Field Outdoor Spaces on Flickr!