Skip to main content

The 5 best patio trees to adorn your outdoor space

Trees make great additions to yards and gardens. They can be a source of shade, fruit, and fun, depending on the tree. Unfortunately, not every living space has room for a magnificent, towering oak tree, but doesn’t mean you have to give up on having trees altogether! There are some really excellent trees that are suited for smaller spaces.

Crepe myrtle

Crepe myrtles — or crape myrtles, depending on where you live — are wonderful trees for patios or small gardens. They stay relatively small, with full-sized varieties growing to between 10 and 20 feet. They are available in dwarf and semi-dwarf varieties as well, making them extremely versatile. Crepe myrtles take very little care and offer lovely masses of pink or red flowers in spring.

Related Videos

Crepe myrtles are sun-loving trees that prefer well-draining soil, as they can develop root rot if planted in soil that retains too much water. Otherwise, crepe myrtles require no special care. They aren’t picky about soil pH or quality and don’t need any fertilizer under most circumstances. Pruning a crepe myrtle is rarely necessary except in the case of damage after storms or the occasional light thinning.

A crepe myrtle in full bloom with pink flowers.
Noel V. Baebler/Shutterstock

Kumquat tree

Kumquats are delicious little citrus fruits that resemble a cross between cherry tomatoes and oranges. The trees they grow on are equally small; they grow to only about 8 to 15 feet. They do require a little more care than some trees, but their small size makes them great candidates for a container garden. When grown in a container, they rarely reach their full height.

Kumquats, like most citrus fruits, prefer full sun. However, they are more cold-tolerant than most other citrus trees. They grow best in sandy soils and need regular fertilization, especially if you are intending to harvest the fruits of your labor.

Three small kumquat trees with fruit, in small, square, white pots
Victoria Kurylo/Shutterstock

Blue spruce

Blue spruce trees can grow to be enormous, so you may wonder what they’re doing on a list of patio trees. Surprisingly, blue spruce trees actually make lovely container trees. They’re relatively slow growing, and the dwarf varieties stay much smaller than the full-sized spruces, only growing to 12 feet tall.

Many trees find it more difficult to tolerate cold temperatures when grown in containers since their roots have less protection. For those who live farther north and want a container tree, dwarf blue spruce is a great option. Place your spruce in full sun, and make sure your potting soil is rich and loamy, and your blue spruce will do just fine.

A woman holding a small bay tree in a plastic pot
Pixel Shot/Shutterstock

Sweet bay tree

Sweet bay trees stay small when grown in containers and don’t stand out much in terms of appearance. Pick a few leaves, though, and you’ll soon find a fragrant and flavorful addition to any pasta, soup, or meat. Bay leaves are typically used dry, not fresh, but having your own tree to harvest from means you can have bay leaves for your kitchen whenever you’d like.

Sweet bay, or bay laurel, trees enjoy sunny, warm climates. They are notably drought tolerant and only need occasional watering. These trees can be kept outdoors on a sunny patio for most of the year, but they don’t do well in the cold or in high wind.

Virginia fringe tree with white flowers, standing in a field
Kit Leong/Shutterstock

Virginia fringe tree

Virginia fringe trees get their name from the interesting, feathery flowers they grow — and they certainly grow a lot of them! If you’re looking for a tree to serve as a conversation starter or centerpiece, the fringe tree is the tree for you. This tree is also a good choice for those looking to attract birds, as the tree produces bluish-purple berries that birds love.

Fringe trees enjoy the sun but can tolerate partial shade, as well. The sunnier the planting location, though, the more flowers you’ll see. These trees aren’t particularly drought tolerant but should be able to subsist on rain alone in mild climates.

Whether you’re looking for a small tree to plant next to your patio or an even smaller one to grow in a container, these five trees are a great place to start looking. No matter what your climate or space availability, there’s a tree out there that suits your needs. Look for slow growing trees, trees that naturally stay small, or dwarf varieties of larger trees and go from there! Each region is different, so don’t hesitate to reach out to a local nursery for advice on which trees thrive in your area.

Editors' Recommendations

3 incredible reasons why you should be using coffee grounds in your garden
Don't throw out your coffee grounds. Find out if your garden needs them first
A succulent planted in a silver mug next to a pile of coffee grounds and coffee beans with a spoon on top

You might have heard that it's a good idea to use coffee grounds in your garden. It's often touted as a great organic fertilizer, but some gardeners are still skeptical. Should you actually be using coffee grounds in gardens, or does this advice fall a little flat?

As it turns out, it depends on your soil composition and what plants you’re growing. If you're unsure about whether this tip is right for you, don't worry! We'll walk you through when coffee grounds are perfect for your plants and when your ground is better off without the grounds.

Read more
Have a gross mealybug infestation on your plants? Try one of these remedies
Use these tips to get rid of mealybugs
Mealybugs clustered on stems

Mealybugs, a common pest related to scale insects, are small, sap-sucking insects that only reach a quarter-inch in size. There are almost 300 species of mealybugs in North America alone, with more living around the world. For such a small insect, mealybugs on plants can devastate your garden.

So how can you tell if your garden is infested, and how do you protect your plants? Luckily, mealybugs are easy to identify and treat. Here's everything you need to know about these pests and ways you can keep your plants safe from mealybugs.

Read more
These plants should be among the first you plant this year
Grow these plants to get a jump on gardening
Purple crocus flowers in the snow

It’s a new year, which means we’re about to enter a new growing season! If you’re planning out your first garden of the year, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all the options. There are so many plants to choose from, and every year new hybrids and varieties are introduced to the market. If thinking of all those plants makes your head spin, don’t worry. You’re not alone. We’ve got some recommendations to help narrow things down to start your new year planting season off right.

Early-blooming flowers
Flowers that bloom early in spring or late in winter are great choices to plant. Due to their bloom time, they’re often cold resistant, and they can add a bright pop of color to break up the smooth whites and browns of winter. If you’re growing them from seed, it’s best to plant them in the fall. However, you can often find seedlings or mature plants in nurseries early in the year.

Read more