An umbrella-shaped Japanese maple

Stunning small weeping trees suitable for any front garden

Would you like to have a tree in your front garden, but its size doesn’t allow for accommodating one? If this is your case, don’t worry, you are not alone.  


With the increasing number of new homes, the outdoor spaces seem to be smaller and smaller. This applies especially to urban and suburban areas.  See how to enlarge small garden here.


Fortunately, the growers and plant suppliers have fully adapted to current conditions, and dwarf-sized weeping trees are now widely available across the globe. It is not unusual to come across a tree as low as one metre (3 feet).

Dwarf Japanese maple
Dwarf Japanese maple

How is this possible? How do they remain so low?


These trees are propagated by grafting. This vegetative propagation technique usually connects two plant segments together. The lower segment is called rootstock and the upper segment is referred to as scion.


In order to apply scion on the rootstock, the rootstock is cut to required height. After that, it does not grow any taller, ensuring the dwarf-growing habit.


The scion, however, grows to its full potential, producing weeping or an umbrella-shaped small tree and its size can easily be controlled by yearly pruning.


Our favourite dwarf weeping trees include:

  • Cherries
  • Crab apples
  • Birch
  • Conifers
  • Siberian Peashrub



Weeping cherries (Cherry blossom)

Flowering cherry trees were decorating Zen and Imperial gardens of Japan for centuries or even millennia and are still gaining popularity today.


Their display of blossom is truly magnificent and although the flowering time is relatively short-lasting, the result is worth every minute.


Flowers can be single or double produced in early spring and colours include white and every possible shade of pink. Leaves often turn orange later in the season, taking care of the autumn interest. The fall sunset hugely contributes to a glowin evening display.


Burgundy coloured peeling-like bark adds a character to this tree in the winter (this applies Prunus serulla as a rootstock).


Our pics: Prunus ‘Snow Fountain and Prunus ‘Pink Fountain’.


  • Hardiness: Hardy
  • Soil: Moist, well drained
  • Ph: Acid to neutral
  • Position: Full sun
Weeping Flowering cherry in full bloom is stunning
Weeping Flowering cherry in full bloom is stunning

Weeping Crab apples.

In the spring, Crab apples can be very similar to Cherry blossoms. They produce masses of single or double flowers during the spring and colours include white, pink and red, lasting approximately two or three weeks.


Leaves can bring an additional interest to Crab apples. They might not include glowing autumn colours, but the foliage can be commonly found in red colour.


Small fruit in the fall is produced in large masses. Although it isn’t as tasty as apples, it can be used for jam production or to attract wildlife such as birds to your garden.


An example: Malus ‘Ruby Tears’.


  • Hardiness: Hardy
  • Soil: Moist but well drained
  • Ph: Acid to neutral
  • Position: Full sun
Beautiful spring display of Crab apples
Beautiful spring display of Crab apples

Weeping White Himalayan birch. 

If you are looking for a dwarf tree to attract wildlife to your garden, look no further. Birch is a tree of life and is a magnet for insects and birds. 


It does not produce amazing colour interest that would match Cherries or Crab apples in the spring, but there are other benefits that we don’t often think of. 


The delicate branches of birch are very flexible. This allows for providing a very calming, relaxing effect in gentle breeze. On a practical note, our ancestors used to tie them into a bundle to manufacture a free broom to sweep up their outdoors. If you are willing to give it a try it works really well, we must say. 


The bark mostly consists of pure white colour, leading to an overwhelming winter look which can be truly appreciated if you live in the area blessed with regular winter snow fall. 


Recommended: Betula utilis ‘Jacquemontii’. 


  • Hardiness: Hardy 
  • Soil: Well drained, moist  
  • Ph: Acid, neutral, alkaline 
  • Position: Full sun, partial shade
White winter settings compliment the Birch
Purple and pink combination among other colours in Hyacinth meadow

Weeping conifers. 

Interestingly, conifers only seem to be popular in areas with higher altitude. It is a bit of a shame if you ask us. They are an ancient tree, some of them (still alive) dating back five thousand years! 


Conifers can be found in many different colours, shapes and sizes and we think there is a conifer for any garden out there. Most conifer species are evergreen, providing an all-year-round interest.  


Some of the blue varieties such a Cedar can be hugely complimented by festive settings and a winter moonlight. 


Unfortunately, they don’t produce an outstanding flower display, which often leads to general disinterest and unappreciation.


Conifers are generally hardy plants, favouring well drained soil on the acid side. 


We recommend including conifers within the planting scheme consisting of Rhododendrons, Azaleas and Heathers. The dropping needles tend to lower the soil pH, increasing the acidity.

An unappreciated beauty of weeping conifer
An unappreciated beauty of weeping conifer

Siberian Peashrub. 

This could be one of the plants you might have not heard of or might have not seen yet. Frankly, I haven’t come across one in years, but it’s worth a mention.  


Siberian Peashrub (Caragana arborescens ‘Pendula’) can often be mistaken for Golden showers tree (Laburnum ‘Vossii’). Just like the Laburnum, Caragana produces yellow flowers in the spring. The main difference is that flowers are not in clusters. 


Siberian Peashrub, due to its yellow nature, can bring warmth and joy to any front garden. For an optimal balance, we recommend including few blue flowering plants in the planting scheme. You can find more information on colour schemes here.


Beware of little thorns on the branches during pruning. 


  • Hardiness: hardy 
  • Soil: moist, well drained, loam, sand, chalk 
  • Ph: acid, neutral, alkaline 
  • Position: full sun
Weeping Caragana in the summer in Hydrangea surrounds
Weeping Caragana in the summer in Hydrangea surrounds
beautiful yellow flowers of caragana
Beautiful yellow flowers of caragana

Japanese maples.

Japanese maples (Acers) don’t need any special introduction. Originally found in the Imperial gardens of Japan, their popularity around the world was gained very rapidly. 


Acers can be seen in many different sizes and colours. Raging from dwarf sizes as low as two feet high, their foliage can be green, yellow, orange and red.  


They are especially favoured for their amazing autumn foliage and the glow in the sunset. 


But be careful when selecting an Acer as they can be delicate. Wind, drought, soil alkalinity and full sun exposure can and will lead to the leaf scorch.


One to bear in mind is that the green varieties of Japanese maples are tougher than coloured ones. 


  • Hardiness: hardy 
  • Soil: moist but well drained 
  • Ph: acid 
  • Position: partial shade 
An umbrella-shaped Japanese maple
Beautiful yellow flowers of caragana

As you can see, the small front garden doesn’t necessarily mean it is restricted. With careful planning and the right amount of consideration, anyone can find their favourite tree for their small outdoor space. 


Please consult your local retailer for further information.

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