Garden designs on a budget: Top 5 Trees For Small Gardens

Top 5 Trees For Small Gardens

When choosing trees for small gardens, the key is to go for varieties which are both slow growing and small, says multi-award-winning landscape designer, Joe Perkins.

Joe, who won gold medals for his Show Gardens at the 2019 and 2022 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, talks us through the garden trees perfect for compact outdoor spaces, including the best small garden tree for spring and autumn colour and the top pick for wildlife-conscious gardeners.

When it comes to smaller gardens, there’s a whole array of lovely trees to choose from. But that simple fact also means when it comes to selecting the best one for you, you’re probably a little too spoilt for choice. To select one for a design project, I start by focusing on what the tree is for and what the existing conditions of the garden are like.

For example, is autumn colour a priority? Or is year-round screening a necessity? Perhaps wildlife is at the forefront of your gardening agenda? The most vital question to weigh up is how much space is available for the tree to grow without it becoming a nuisance or looking completely out of scale with its surroundings.

All too many times I’ve visited potential clients and been confronted by an enormous weeping willow for instance; beautiful but overpowering. The same applies to any number of larger conifers (let’s not mention Leylandii) and even silver birch.

So, when selecting trees for small gardens, I go for species and varieties which are both slow growing and small.

1. Snowy Mespilus / Amelanchier lamarckii

One of the most attractive characteristics of this lovely plant is that it casts very light shade due to its leaf structure. Instead of completely blocking light from a small space, it allows sunbeams to beautifully trickle in. Spring blossom and autumn colour make this tree a well-known favourite among gardeners everywhere. It will reach around eight metres tall, spreading over four metres or so.

Amelanchier lamarckii

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Amelanchier lamarckii

Amelanchier lamarckii

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Credit: Crocus

2. Parrotia persica

Persian Ironwood makes a beautiful multi-stemmed tree and, according to the Royal Horticultural Society, will attain four to eight metres with an equal spread. However, it is slow-growing and can be pruned to shape, meaning the width can be controlled quite easily. This makes it ideal for tailoring it perfectly to your outdoor space. It offers the most brilliant autumn colour and will create a real talking point in your garden.

Persian Ironwood

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Parrotia persica

Parrotia persica

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Credit: Crocus

3. Crab apples

There are many flowering crab apple trees which are perfect for wildlife-conscious gardeners who only have a small space to work with. Malus Toringo is a small Japanese crab with a semi-weeping habit. It blooms with white flowers followed by small red, and sometimes, yellow fruit; it also copes well with heavy soil come winter.

Fruits of the Malus Toringo

RobertSchneider//Getty Images

Malus Toringo ‘Scarlett’

Malus Toringo ‘Scarlett’

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Credit: Waitrose Garden

Malus trilobata, originating from the eastern Mediterranean, has an upright habit. It can grow up to six metres tall after 25 years but with a spread of only three metres. It also blooms with white flowers and maple-shaped leaves, which turn a stunning deep red going into the autumn which, aesthetically, makes it perfect for small garden spaces.

Malus trilobata

Malus trilobata

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Credit: Barcham

4. Acers

No account of small trees would be complete without mentioning delicately beautiful Acers. The Amur maple (or Acer ginnala as it’s also referred to) is a medium tree between seven to 10 metres tall. It’s one of the best for vibrant autumn colour and is also quick to come into leaf in the spring months.

Acer ginnala ‘Bailey Compact’

Acer ginnala ‘Bailey Compact’

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Credit: Thompson & Morgan

Acer buergerianum is the Trident maple. It’s another very pretty medium tree which can reach around 10 metres and is also more robust than our previous Acer ginnala, tolerating temperature drops of around -25 Celsius. Although they’re larger than the Japanese maples, these two are slow growing and should take around 20 years to reach full size.

Acer buergerianum

Joe Perkins

Acer Acer Buergerianum Trident Maple

Acer Acer Buergerianum Trident Maple

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Credit: Paramount Plants

5. Autumnalis Rosea

My personal favourite, the Autumnalis Rosea has to be my favourite cherry. This winter-flowering tree blooms with small pink flowers which open intermittently from November through to April. Just glancing at this beauty cheers you up on some of the dullest winter days. It only reaches about five metres with a four-metre spread and will sit comfortably into the smallest of gardens.

Autumnalis Rosea

Steffen Hauser / botanikfoto / Alamy Stock Photo

Prunus × subhirtella ‘Autumnalis Rosea’

Prunus × subhirtella ‘Autumnalis Rosea’

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Credit: Crocus

There are many other trees for small gardens of course, too many to name here. The most important thing is to do your research and choose a tree that will remind you why you chose it and that will reward you in years to come. Trees, after all, are an investment in time.

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Joe Perkins

Landscape Designer

Joe Perkins is a multi-award-winning landscape designer, achieving an unprecedented Gold Medal, Best in Category and Best Construction at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019 for his garden ‘Beyond the Screen’ sponsored by Facebook. He was due to create a second garden for Facebook at this year’s RHS Chelsea before it was cancelled. He is passionate about sustainable practices in landscaping. Website:

How To Create Your Own Garden Pond — Pond Habitats

What’s one of the best things you can do in your garden to help wildlife? The answer is simple – make a garden pond. But where do you start?

‘Many Brits quite rightly think a pond is a quick and easy way to liven up their gardens, but it’s important not to break ground before carefully considering your plan,’ explain the team at GardenBuildingsDirect.

‘Digging too deep or wide and straight down or in the wrong place could all impact the quality of your final pond. Failing to consider drainage and what species might call it home could spell disaster too, so we’ve advice for gardeners ready to take the plunge.’

With wildlife declining across the UK, it’s vital we do all we can with our outdoor spaces to make them a haven for insects, birds and small animals.

Water is a vitally important element of a wildlife-friendly habitat, and once you have water you’ll get toads, frogs and maybe newts, and from there you’ll get birds and hedgehogs –you’ll be amazed at what beautiful creatures find their home in your pond.

Planning on building your own garden pond? These are eight tips to get you started.


1. Decide the depth

      When planning ahead for your pond, consider what depth you want to opt for. Shallower ponds are better suited for displaying ornaments and rocks, as well as giving you the chance to interact more with fish and wildlife.

      If you’re looking to build a deeper pond, they will be less affected by algae because light can only reach a percentage of the water. It’s worth knowing however, that deeper ponds do require a more expensive pond liner. Plus, fish may swim to the bottom and hide.

      ImageegamI//Getty Images

      2. Keep your pond suitable

      Remember to carefully consider the size of your pond. One that takes up most of your garden won’t be very convenient for you, while a small puddle-sized pond equally won’t make much of a difference to wildlife.

      Location can be crucial, too. Take the time to consider the proximity to your house, flower beds, fences and any areas where children play. See more below for garden pond safety with young children.

      3. Opt for simple shapes

      Gentle curves are the best kind for a garden pond. The temptation of wanting to experiment with jagged edges and interesting shapes can often creep in, but these will eventually erode over time. Unless you are able to reinforce your pond’s sides regularly, choosing a simple shape is the best way to create a brilliant wildlife-friendly pond.

      ginton//Getty Images

      4. Avoid vertical walls

      Reinforcing vertical walls in a garden pond can be more difficult and costly, as it requires larger rocks that are heavier and more expensive. Shallow banks (which are ideally less than halfway to a right-angle) enable smaller stones to be used as loose reinforcement.

      5. Don’t forget to protect the bottom

      It’s important you protect the bottom of your pond to prevent burrowing animals from chewing at the pond liner. Make sure you lay down a protective metal mesh sheet along the floor of the pond and cover it with an even layer of dirt. Then, don’t forget to put a strong pond lining in that covers all sides.

      Try not to buy the cheapest pond liner either, as you want to stop unwanted dirt and water creeping in. It’s better to invest in something which will last. You can shop a range of pond liners at Bradshaws Direct.

      6. Level the perimeter

      The water level for a garden pond will only be as high as the lowest points around the perimeter. If the edges are too uneven in height, water could flow out at a steady rate — particularly in heavy rain.

      farbenrausch//Getty Images

      7. Don’t forget drainage

      To stop heavy downpours from creating your pond to flood, identify and implement an overflow area by creating a drainage channel to a safe area of lawn, shrubbery or waste land. You’ll be thankful for this during the wet weather.

      8. Fill it carefully

      When you’re ready to fill your pond, make sure not to overfill it. It’s advised you leave room for rain. Pick appropriate plants and fish too, and try to stay away from any invasive plants that could ruin your pond.


      grbender//Getty Images

      Please remember to avoid any kind of open water in the garden if you have young children. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) advises parents with children under 6 years old to temporarily cover ponds until they are older. You can do this by:

      • Covering the pond by using a rigid metal grille
      • Choosing a fence (at least 1.1m) and ensuring access points such as gates are kept locked
      • Fill it – transforming your pond into a flowerbed or even a sandpit

      For more advice on garden water safety click here.


      welcomia//Getty Images

      Pond maintenance should become a regular task, like weeding, when spending time in the garden. The team at share five ways to keep ponds well-maintained:

      1. Cleaning

      The best time to clean a pond is in late autumn when pond life is generally less active. Start by preparing a holding tank for the fish and deep-water plants to be kept in whilst cleaning; this should be filled with water from the pond.

      Use a pump to remove the water, placing any animals into the holding tank as you see them. Put any plant material at the bottom of the pond on the side to help keep smaller animals safe. Remove all the silt and scrub the pond clean.

      Return some of the silt to the bottom of the pond, add in the plants and fill with water – rainwater is best. You can put the fish straight in once the pond is refilled.

      2. Water Levels

      Ensure water levels are constantly topped up by ideally using conserves of rainwater to fill up the pond.

      3. Weeds

      Just like you would weed your garden, ponds also need weeding. If you pick out the floating weeds, place them on the side of the pond overnight to give any creatures clinging to them a chance to make their way back to the water.

      4. Frost

      As the weather gets colder there is more chance of ponds freezing over, and potentially killing the wildlife inside (depending on how severe the frost is). You can melt the ice by placing a hot pan on the surface. Floating a ball on the surface of the water can delay frost or installing a pond heater or water feature.

      5. Oxygen

      Fish need oxygen to survive and they find this in the pond water. If it becomes too stagnant, they could potentially die. In summer, or during a long period without rain, spraying the surface of the pond with water from a hose can break the surface. Having a water feature will also help aerate the water whilst it’s moving.

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      10 of the best hedgehog houses for gardens

      Featured on TV

      Wildlife World Hogilo Hedgehog Home

      Now 28% Off

      £68 at Amazon

      Credit: Amazon

      • Featured on BBC’s Autumnwatch.

      • Made from durable FSC timber and recycled plastic.

      • The swivel roof lid provides easy access inside the Hogilo for cleaning, feeding or tending to recovering hedgehogs.  

      • An overhanging roof and porch gives protection against the rain.

      Most stylish

      Wudwerx Wooden Hedgehog House

      £120 at Not On The High Street


      • Entrance tunnel into shelter prevents cats, dogs, and foxes from getting in.

      • Removable back panels allow easy access for cleaning of the house.

      • Made from FSC wood.

      Most durable

      Garden Life Hedgehog House

      £30 at

      Credit: Van Meuwen

      • Made using durable wood and features a waterproof roof, pre-treated with hedgehog-safe water-based varnish to ensure it survives the elements of British weather.

      • Camouflaged green roof keeps the hedgehogs safe and out of sight.

      • Made of durable fir wood and features a pitched roof that helps water runoff.  

      Best sturdy frame

      National Trust Hedgehog House, Wicken Fen Collection

      £35 at National Trust

      Credit: National Trust

      •  This rattan hedgehog house provides a safe habitat with a sturdy steel frame covered with a waterproof felt lining. 

      • The wooden entrance door forms a short predator defence tunnel, small enough to deter access by dogs or badgers.

      Most Camouflaged

      Garden Selections Tiggy Wooden Hedgehog House

      £30 at Not On The High Street


      • Handmade from natural barkwood with moss for added camouflage.

      • The doorway provides extra protection as it protrudes from the main body of the shelter.

      Best waterproof roof

      Waitrose Garden Igloo hedgehog home

      £33 at Waitrose Garden

      Credit: Waitrose & Partners Garden

      • Provides a cosy sanctuary from pets, predators, harsh weather and garden tools.

      • Accommodates a family.

      • Features a felted waterproof roof covered with a brush wood finish and decorated with rattan bands.

      Easy to clean

      Tom Chambers Hedgehog House WL014

      £47 at Amazon

      Credit: Amazon

      • Solid, sturdy safe house.

      • Made from stained FSC wood and genuine slate roof, which keeps the house cool in summer. 

      Perfect for single hedgehog

      Garden Trading Hedgehog House

      £55 at Garden Trading

      Credit: Garden Trading

      • Safe and secure with a small opening to prevent cats, dogs and foxes from getting in.

      • Crafted in Spruce, the sturdy and durable material is left untreated, as chemicals can be harmful for the inhabitants.

      Snug shelter

      Waitrose Garden Hedgehog house

      £30 at Waitrose Garden

      Credit: Waitrose & Partners Garden

      • Sturdy hedgehog house provides a snug shelter.

      • Pitched and felted roof helps water run off to prolong the life of the wood.

      • Made from fine-grained timber.


      Garden Selections Hogitat Hedgehog House

      £22 at Not On The High Street

      Credit: Notonthehighstreet. com

      • Sturdy, rust-proofed steel frame and waterproofed roof.

      • It’s an economic & safe retreat for hedgehogs.

      Lisa Joyner

      Senior Digital Writer, House Beautiful and Country Living

      Lisa Joyner is the Senior Digital Writer at House Beautiful UK and Country Living UK, where she’s busy writing about home and interiors, gardening, dog breeds, pets, health and wellbeing, countryside news, small space inspiration, and the hottest properties on the market.

      Olivia Heath

      Executive Digital Editor, House Beautiful UK

      Olivia Heath is the Executive Digital Editor at House Beautiful UK, covering tomorrow’s biggest interior design trends and revealing the best tips, tricks and hacks to help you decorate your home like a pro. Week by week Olivia shares the most stylish high street buys to help you get the look for less and showcases the best real homes, from House Beautiful’s One Room Renovation video series, to the hottest and most unique properties on the market.  

      15 budget ideas for landscaping your site – My Ideas For Dacha and Garden

      In the early years of developing a summer cottage or suburban area, the question of budgetary arrangement often arises. To make it both beautiful and not a lot of money, because you first need to build a house, and only then engage in full-fledged landscape design.

      In today’s article, I will offer you 15 budget ideas that will allow you to keep the site in a tidy state and improve the overall impression of it.

      Soft edge principle

      The meaning of this principle is that you mow the grass for the first time in the spring on the developed site, remove all debris if the site is new, and then, during the season, mow only the paths, gradually increasing the cut herbs.

      In the following photo, for example, I demonstrate how it might look. True, there is a road there, but the meaning, I think, will be clear. This technique will allow you to arrange the suburban area without much effort.

      Your site acquires a certain three-dimensionality due to the grass, but the paths that will appear in the process of developing the perimeter can later be paved with paving stones, pebbles, or concreted.

      These will be some kind of markers by which you can see where you walk most often, trails on the ground will just tell you. Landscaping is easy if you trust your intuition.

      Color inclusions

      By the way, after the first mowing of grass, you can scatter flower seeds on 10 acres to diversify your wild lawn. Some of the seeds, of course, will not grow, but something will hatch. As a result, you will already have a certain Moorish lawn.

      By the way, field daisies take root very well, but I think it’s not even worth mentioning dandelions, because they grow everywhere.


      By the way, some designers, for example, John Greenley from California, generally prefer to work in a wild, natural style. Of course, this approach is still for large areas, where you can let nature self-regulate the design.

      In some cases, islands of tall grass in the area are quite appropriate if you want to leave some three-dimensionality. In each case, this technique will either be appropriate or not.

      Please note that the areas to be moved should be cut wider, as the grass tends to sink into the path, the photo above shows an example of a swath that is not wide enough.

      But in this example, the path is already quite wide, the very perception of the site becomes harmonious. The recommended swath width is one and a half meters – this is optimal.

      If you buy an old plot

      If you buy an old, neglected plot, then first of all, clear it of overgrowth, mow all the grass, and only after that draw conclusions about the advisability of removing mature trees.

      Often a thorough pruning of an old tree, the so-called rejuvenation, allows you to transform the area, getting both an adult tree, and a shadow, and some kind of surroundings at once.

      I always say that it takes a long time to cut down a tree, but it will take years to grow it. Therefore, the budget design of the site is primarily a correction of what is already available on your territory.

      When planning your future personal space, proceed from the initial data available on your site. Thus, the budget for landscape design can be significantly optimized.

      30 beautiful photos –

      Garden and plot

      GARDEN IDEAS: 30 beautiful photos
      Looking for beautiful photos to design your country garden? Your attention – 30 interesting design options
      GARDEN IDEAS: 30 beautiful photos

      Looking for beautiful photos to design your country garden? Your attention – 30 interesting design options

      An unformed yard on a suburban area is a headache for every owner. I want not just aesthetics – I want to get a beautiful, spectacular, stylish garden in which you can gather with friends, relax, and enjoy the morning silence in the bosom of nature. And at any time of the year. Not sure how to turn a boring and dull yard into a beautiful garden? We will help you with ideas.

      A beautiful water feature can beautify even the most gloomy yard. Let it be small and modest, but there should be a fountain – for beauty, microclimate, freshness.

      The use of wood is one of the trends of the year. From this eco-friendly material, you can create not only houses, but also original designs for relaxing in a suburban area. Wooden decks and terraces around trees are relevant in conditions of a shortage of usable space and, no doubt, are aesthetic.

      You can build a bench around a tree even from ordinary dismantled pallets. The main thing is to remember that a growing tree needs its own space, so you should not fix the main structure on the tree itself.

      A simple garden path can become not only a functional element of the garden, but also the main accent in the chosen design. Moreover, it does not necessarily require large expenses, sometimes the simplest tiles and pebbles or expanded clay and crushed stone are enough to fill the voids creatively.

      Are you looking for ideas to create original decorations in your garden? An excellent option is hanging rattan chairs: comfortable, stylish, aesthetic.

      Paving slabs are often used in home landscaping because of their low cost with very attractive results. In addition, you can work with this tile yourself – a good savings for the family budget.

      Design ideas for organizing flower beds in the country – a myriad. Flower beds and flower beds decorate the garden, delight the eye, mask the imperfections of the summer cottage.

      The hedge as a phenomenon is no longer a novelty – this way to beautifully isolate yourself from curious neighbors and mark the boundaries of the site is used everywhere. In addition, with the help of a hedge, you can zone the space, decorate the borders of the paths, and so on. For a more solid density of the living “fence”, plants can be planted in several rows, combining varieties.

      When choosing products and elements for decorating the garden, do not forget about water bodies. You can even build a pond on your own if you follow the instructions. As decorations, experts recommend using flowers planted around the perimeter, plaster sculptures or decorative fish.

      An open veranda is a great way to increase the usable space, add solidity to a country house and create a cozy corner for a summer dining siesta. You can hide your “oasis” from the scorching sun with such an aesthetic method.

      Flowerbeds along the main fence on the site beautifully mask not only the dull fence, but also the unevenness of the terrain. You can decorate flower beds with unpretentious flowers or small shrubs, if the quality of the soil leaves much to be desired.

      Editor’s note:

      — A beautiful garden does not always require radical changes and funds to pay for the work of a landscape designer. There are more than enough ways to decorate and transform the garden. An ordinary yard is turned into a plant garden. Today they can be bought at the nearest nursery – from mosses to seedlings. Modest water elements are among the most spectacular “tools” in the design of the garden. And it is not the size that is important, but the design of the “coast” line. A garden of stones, a creative arrangement of flowers, for example, in a cartwheel or in an old trough, beautiful lamps, garden paths and a drop of exotic – the same black tulips, will not hurt in the courtyard either. A little imagination, a little effort – and your garden will be magnificent.

      The use of huge planters and monumental flower pots is an opportunity to surprise your guests with a stylish design of the yard and garden. One of the European trends is the combination of flowers and greenery with berry bushes.

      No need to cut down extra trees on the site – they can be used in the overall design of the future stylish garden. For example, to create such a cozy corner with aesthetic and practical functions.

      The wooden terrace-deck will fit into almost any country design. Even a small deck for a table and a couple of chairs will become a functional decoration at a low cost.

      Original stone garden paths are one of the most popular solutions in home garden design. The best material for paving paths is, of course, natural stone, which will emphasize the beauty of the garden and will not require repairs in a couple of years. Beautiful, durable, free!

      Flower pots can be used to decorate yards, gardens, patios, decks, garden paths and even balconies. Flower arrangements in tubs are mobile, aesthetic and organic in any site design.

      A patio area in a summer cottage is simply unthinkable without stylish furniture and an abundance of greenery. As a site for this open-air living room, it is recommended to choose a place that dries quickly after rain.

      Even without the skills of a designer and architect, you can design your country garden in accordance with your dreams and ideas. You can turn the site into a sample of landscape design by borrowing ready-made ideas.

      Looking for a garden design that will impress every guest? Classic inexpensive tiles, ornamental shrubs and a plaster flowerpot are your “three pillars” of design. For a low-growing border of garden paths, you can use boxwood, juniper, spirea, Japanese quince.

      Fashionable and spectacular garden paths do not always require serious financial investments. For example, this masterpiece will only require time and your efforts. And large natural stones, and tiny pebbles, and broken bricks with tiles that you were going to throw away are suitable as materials.

      Even an old children’s truck that you found in the attic can find its own place in the garden. What can we say about flower pots, which are used in the design of the site in many ways. For example, like this…

      The main trend of modern landscape design is a stylish combination of residential plots of backyard territory with a green area. Patio, elegant “living rooms” in the courtyard and decks; simple forms and materials, hedges and phytowalls, multifunctionality of spaces and objects are the fashion trends of recent years.

      This fragrant rose garden can be used instead of a hedge, as an arch or as a canopy over a pergola. It is important to remember that climbing roses require permeable soil and special care.

      Another example of low-budget dacha landscape design: a mosaic of garden paths changes the look of the entire territory.

      Globular plants are always eye-catching: they blend harmoniously with any garden design and are regularly used by landscape designers. If you don’t have time and energy for a curly haircut, you can simply choose plants with a natural spherical crown.

      Editor’s opinion:

      — With the help of coniferous spherical plants, you can create a very interesting composition if you choose the right “balls” in size and height. Such plants often become a tool for smoothing the strict geometry of flower beds, enlivening space and creating comfort. Coniferous “balls” planted in the far corners of the site create the effect of an immense space, and even serve as umbrellas above the bench. Spherical plants can be used to decorate a garden alley.

      Natural large stones are the highlight of any garden, able to connect different areas of the site into one beautiful whole. It is preferable to use stones as the edge of garden paths, lawns, ponds, plant compositions and other things. The most spectacular such decor can be for a composition of heather plants and mosses.

      When a child dreams of a sports area, and the spouse’s pulse quickens at the word “design”…

      Of course, huge sports structures will be difficult to fit into the design of the site, but still a compromise is possible.

      Broken tiles, neatly trimmed grass, globular shrubs and an old tin tub as a vintage flower pot… A design that won’t hit the wallet.

      Admiring concrete slabs is a dubious pleasure. And a fence made of unsightly boards will not bring aesthetic joy.