Perfect for patios, balconies, and smaller gardens, these trees have all the features of their full-sized cousins, but in a space-saving, compact form. Whether they’re dwarf varieties or are grafted onto dwarf rootstocks, they’re easy to grow and require little upkeep. Brightening courtyards all year round, these dainty trees bring spring blossom, summer flowers and, with some varieties, edible fruit in autumn – not to mention textured bark and colourful leaves, which range from glossy greens to riotous reds.


While the larger of these trees can be grown in the ground, others thrive in large containers too, so you're not limited to the specific soil type in your garden and can choose whichever varieties you like. Pot-grown trees also offer more flexibility, as you can move containers around to provide specimens with more sun or a little shade and can bring them to the forefront when they are flowering, fruiting or putting on a vibrant leaf display.

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Brightening courtyards all year round, these dainty trees bring spring blossom, summer flowers and with some varieties, edible fruit in autumn – not to mention textured bark and colourful leaves

What size pot do you need?

As a general rule, large containers that are at least 60cm in diameter are ideal for small trees. However, it’s best to start with a smaller size that has enough space for the tree’s rootball, and re-pot in stages over the coming years.

Use good quality loam-based, peat-free compost, such as a John Innes No.3 type, or specialist growing medium, such as ericaceous compost, if required. Make sure the container has plenty of drainage holes – it’s a good idea to use pot feet to help water drain away so the roots don’t sit in cold, sodden compost through the winter.

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Do these trees need pruning?

Small trees are relatively low-maintenance because they’re selected for their slow growth rate and compact habit, which means they only need light pruning to keep them healthy and in shape. Read below for pruning advice about Gardeners Dream’s top 10 trees for courtyards and small gardens

The Gardeners Dream horticultural team has over 42 years of experience, which means they know what to look for when it comes to selecting the best patio trees, so you can buy in confidence. Shop now to get 10% off all small trees from Gardeners Dream, and, as everything is guaranteed to be in stock, you can rely on their quick delivery.

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Nine of the best trees for courtyards and small gardens

Olive (Olea europaea) Patio Tree

Gardener's Dream - Olive Olea Europaea Patio Tree 2
Olive (Olea Europaea)

Create a Mediterranean-style garden with the Gardeners Dream patio olive tree. These attractive, standard-shaped specimens are grown in Sicily, where they’re kept outdoors all year round to ensure they’ll thrive in the UK’s climate. Happiest in a sunny spot, they need a light prune in late spring to early summer to encourage fresh growth.

3 litre pot, 2-3ft high (from the roots)

Price: £29.99

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Victoria Plum Tree

Victoria Plum Tree

Grow your own fruit in a small, sunny space. This self-pollinating variety is a reliable heavy-cropper, which means you’ll be picking delicious red-skinned plums by late August. It’s also a wildlife-friendly addition to your garden, as birds and butterflies love its spring blossom. Requiring little in the way of pruning, thin old wood in spring for the first few years. Once the tree is more mature, do this in mid-summer.
Choose between two rootstocks: the dwarf Pixy, which allows your tree to be trained as a cordon or compact bush, or the semi-dwarf St Julien, which allows your tree to reach 4-5m.

12 litre pot, 4-5ft

Price: £64.99

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Hydrangea macrophylla Patio Tree collection

Hydrangea Macrophylla Patio Tree Collection - Gardeners' Dream
Hydrangea Macrophylla Patio Tree Collection

A striking focal point in a courtyard, this lollipop-shaped patio tree features the characteristically large and colourful pink pom-pom flowers that make usual-sized hydrangeas such a popular choice. A hardy variety, it can stay outdoors throughout the winter, but it will benefit from being cut back hard in spring to encourage new growth.

3 litre pot, 2-3ft

Price: £34.99

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Hibiscus ‘Tricolour’ Patio Tree

Hibiscus Tricolour Patio Tree - Gardener's Dream
Hibiscus 'Tricolour' Patio Tree

The perfect choice for an exotic garden-style, this deciduous variety of hibiscus features three different flower shades on one patio-sized tree – pink, blue and white. Native to China, this tropical beauty copes well in our climate providing it’s given a sheltered, sunny position and it’s easy to care for – just lightly prune to keep the shape.

3 litre pot, 2-3ft

Price: £34.99

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Ceanothus ‘Victoria’ Patio Tree

Ceanothus Victoria Patio Tree - Gardener's Dream
Ceanothus 'Victoria' Patio Tree

Add a splash of colour to your planting scheme with this lollipop-shaped tree, which produces a mass of blue, sweetly scented flowers in late spring and early summer. Perfect for a sunny patio or front porch as it likes to be sheltered from the elements, it looks great all year round thanks to its evergreen, glossy foliage. It’s low maintenance, too, requiring a light prune after flowering, to keep the shape and encourage new growth.

3 and 5 litre pots

Price: £34.99

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Arbutus unedo Tree

Arbutus unedo tree - Gardener's Dream
Arbutus unedo tree

The strawberry tree is a beautiful specimen which offers plenty of interest for a courtyard at any time of the year. In addition to its red-brown peeling bark and dark glossy leaves, it also produces strawberry-like fruits, which ripen in autumn at the same time as clusters of white flowers appear, too. It’s also hardy and wind-resistant, so is a good choice for exposed, coastal settings.

12 litre, 5-6ft

Price: £89.99

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Hoheria sexstylosa ‘Snow White’ Tree

Hoheria sexstylosa 'Snow White' - Gardener's Dream
Hoheria sexstylosa 'Snow White' Tree

While the scented white flowers, which appear in summer and attract bees and butterflies, and tooth-edged leaves are noteworthy features of this patio tree, it can also be pruned into a pyramid-shape, which means it’s a great choice for topiary enthusiasts. Fully hardy, it thrives in full sun, and will tolerate coastal conditions, although it will need some protection from cold winds.

12 litre, 5-6ft

Price: £89.99

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Prunus ‘Amanogawa’ Tree

Prunus Amanogawa - Gardener's Dream
Prunus Amanogawa Tree

This lovely Japanese cherry has a narrow, upright habit, which means it’s ideal for small gardens and courtyards. In April-May, it’s covered with scented, semi-double pale-pink flowers that fade to almost white. In autumn its mid-green leaves start to turn, putting on a fiery display of red, orange and yellow. A good choice for urban environments as it tolerates pollution, it needs a sunny spot.

12 litre, 5-6ft

Price: £89.99

Buy a Prunus ‘Amanogawa’ Tree from Gardeners Dream

Acer rubrum 'Summer Red'

Acer rubrum 'Summer Red Tree' - Gardener's Dream
Acer rubrum 'Summer Red'

A popular choice for small spaces, this colourful maple promises to stand out whether it’s on a patio or in the front garden. Unlike other varieties, it produces vibrant red leaves during the summer, which turn yellow-orange in the autumn. It has better leaf colour in ericaceous compost and will sulk if it’s exposed to wind, but otherwise it’s happy in full sun or a semi-shady spot and is frost-hardy.

12 litre, 5-6ft

Price: £89.99

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