The best trees for a small family garden

apple tree

It’s difficult to commit time and effort towards growing a perfect garden.  Especially when family life eats up most of your time at home. Working with a small area makes it much easier to free up some time for your plants.  But once you’ve got some nice flowers in the ground, where do you go from there?

Crab apples

They taste sour on their own.  But crab apples can be used in quite a few tasty recipes either fresh or after being frozen. The fruit’s best picked in autumn, but even if you strip it bare, you’ll still get to see a lovely faint-pink blossom next Spring.

crab apple tree

Some types of crab apple tree are fairly large.  However it’s not hard to prune them into a smaller size as they grow.  If you’re not keen on fences or hedges, it might be better to let it grow and use it as a divider in the summer.


Elder’s a very popular plant, and for a good reason.  It can grow almost anywhere and can be used to make all kinds of berry-based treats, even wine and pies. They’re high in Vitamin C and low in fat.  But they’re only edible once you cook them for a while.

There are quite a few types of elderberry that leave behind colourful leaves in the autumn.  So they can be a really appealing choice for a border tree or decoration for the corner of your garden. Just make sure you keep children away from the raw berries.  Otherwise they could make themselves sick when your back’s turned.

Palm trees

One of the biggest problems with growing a tall tree is the horizontal space. If you’re dead-set on adding something that’ll add some extra shade, palm trees might be your best option.  There are dozens of variations and types.  Many of which will survive harsh weather and colder temperatures.

Most palm trees are slow to grow, with some taking at least two years to fully grow from a seed. This can be a really fun family project for some people, but if you want to save yourself some time, you can always get a pre-grown tree planted in your garden instead.


They can take a lot of pruning to perfect, but cherry trees are an easy way to add some colourful shades to a plain garden. White and pink are the most common colours, but some will have bright red or dark burgundy leaves that stand out a little less. They can be fragile and season-sensitive, so don’t rely on them being around all the time.


Rowan trees are incredibly tolerant of pollution, regardless of whether it’s just a nearby barbeque or a city-wide spread of polluted air. They’ll fair really well near roads and factories, so you don’t need to worry about your plants dying if you’re living in a less-than-ideal spot.

Most rowan trees will produce different-coloured leaves and berries, so they’ll look incredible as the seasons change. Like a lot of smaller trees, the berries can be used for pretty much anything once they’re cooked (or frozen) enough to be non-toxic, so you can mix them into your regular family means without much trouble.

Olive Trees

Olive trees are fairly unique when it comes to their size: after a certain point, they’ll just stop growing, and won’t keep spreading their roots or branches like most other fruit-bearing trees. This makes them really easy to manage and stops them from growing out of control if you’re away on holiday for a week or two.

olive tree

Fresh olives are another great reason to get at least one olive tree, even if it’s just a small addition to your garden. They’re great for cooking and making salads, and the health benefits they provide are well worth the cost of growing them – or, if you’re not in the mood for gardening, the cost of buying them outright from sites like Olive Grove.

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