Tagawa Gardens Blog

Five Great Small Trees that Give Back in Big Ways

Planting a tree is a terrific way to celebrate Earth Day or Arbor Day… or just about any day, for that matter.  Even if you have a small yard, as many homes do, Tagawa Gardens has lots of trees that can be a purr-fect fit for your landscape.  If you’re interested in planting a small tree that gives back in more ways than one, here are five great suggestions from the folks in our Nursery Department.

Ivory Silk Japanese Lilac


The Ivory Silk Japanese Lilac (pictured here and at the top of the blog) is hard to beat if you want a show-stopping display in early late spring and early simmer!  The creamy white flowers form in large plumes.  Their sweet fragrance is a magnet for bees, butterflies and other pollinators.  One deep whiff and you’ll understand why!

Ivory Silk Japanese Lilacs grow to about 15 feet tall and 20 feet wide, which makes them a great choice for somewhat smaller landscapes.  They require full sun and do best in average to slightly moist soil.  They should not be allowed to dry out.

The Ivory Silk Japanese Lilac does not have any significant fall color, but the breath-taking display it offers in spring more than makes up for that.

Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry



The Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry is a terrific small tree that definitely should get more attention and more use in Front Range gardens.  It delivers a showy display of white flowers in the spring that come out before the leaves appear.  The flowers are a big draw for pollinators.

As the flowers fade, tiny blue berries take their place.  The berries make a great natural food source for birds.  As the gardening season begins to wind down, the leaves of the Autumn Brilliance live up to the name and turn a vibrant red.

The Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry will grow to be about 25 feet tall and 20 feet wide. It prefers average to slightly moist conditions and does not like to go completely dry.

Autumn Brilliance is truly a three-season tree, giving back spring, summer and fall.

Montmorency Cherry


If you’re wanting a small fruit tree for your yard, you should definitely consider a Montmorency Cherry.  In spring, the white flowers will lure plenty of pollinators, and by mid-summer, you’ll be picking sour cherries for fruit pies and cobblers like your grandmother used to make!

At maturity, this low-growing tree averages about 12 feet tall and ten feet wide, so most of the fruit will be within easy reach.  The birds may fight you for the rest! Montmorency should be planted where unpicked fruit that drops to the ground won’t be a problem.

Once the harvest is long passed, Montmorency leaves will reward you with outstanding orange color to welcome the fall.

Like all fruiting trees, the Montmorency requires full sun to produce a good crop.  It prefers evenly-moist soil, but will not tolerate soggy conditions.


Princess Kay Plum is a fruit tree in name only.  The lush display of white flowers in spring is beautiful, but the blossoms are just for show and will not produce any fruit. They’re fragrant, but sterile.

Princess Kay grows up to 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide.  It needs full sun and well-drained soil.  It will not do well in a soggy site.

The leaves of Princess Kay turn a beautiful yellow in the fall. This small tree is hardy and can make a lovely accent in a sunny spot in even the smallest yard.


Bigtooth Maples are very hardy along Colorado’s Front Range.  They’re especially good at handling our dry conditions once they’ve been “established,” meaning once they’ve been growing for a couple of seasons.

These trees don’t offer flowers or fruit.  Their big show comes in the fall when the leaves turn stunning shades of orange and red.  They’re a real show-stopper!

Bigtooth Maples grow to about 25 feet tall and wide.  They make an especially good shade tree that requires little maintenance.  They prefer average to slightly moist soil.

These trees…. and so many more!

The nursery at Tagawa Gardens is loading up with dozens of small trees that give back in so many ways….. spring flowers, yummy fruit and fall color.  Our Nursery Experts would love to help you pick just the right tree for your landscape.

Take a few pictures of the site you’d like to plant, then come see us and let us help you make the purr-fect choice!

Please follow and like us:
Luan Akin
Luan Akin
Tagawa Gardens Outreach Ambassador

After 30 years as a news reporter for KCNC TV in Denver, Luan Akin was ready for a change. In 2008, she came to Tagawa Gardens and offered to create a brand new position: Garden Outreach Ambassador.

Luan had trained and volunteered as a Douglas County Master Gardener for ten years. In addition to her duties as a news reporter, working primarily out of the Channel 4 News helicopter, Luan also produced and presented a long-running series of stories called “Gardening Together.”

All these years later, Luan now works year ‘round, presenting a variety of gardening and nature-related topics to hundreds of children, HOA’s, gardening clubs, church groups, small businesses and other organizations.

She is an avid gardener, a beekeeper and a proud mom to four dogs who have trained her well.


  1. Mary Watson

    May 11, 2017 - 4:11 pm

    I’m looking for a tree to provide privacy between my house and the next door house. We don’t have a lot of space so I’m looking for something tall, but not too wide. I also need one that doesn’t root too deep as it is right next to my basement. I would appreciate any suggestions. Also the spot I want to put it is on the west side of my house and I don’t know how much sun it will get since there is a ranch style home right next to us. Thank you in advance for any help you can give me.

    • Luan Akin

      Luan Akin

      May 15, 2017 - 6:47 pm

      Mary… I’m sorry I missed your comment earlier. Given the space restrictions and some of the challenges that site offers, I’d suggest that you take some pictures on your cell phone…. wide shots showing the house next door and such…. and then take those to the Nursery Department at Tagawa’s. That site could create something of a “heat trap” for anything you plant there. Root issues with your nearby foundation also going to be an issue, as you’ve noted. We have some of the best nursery folks in this area, and I trust their judgement completely. Best of luck to you!!

Leave a Reply to Mary Watson

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)