A sprawling yard is every home gardener’s dream, but that’s not always accessible. For those with small gardens, a beautiful tree in the front yard isn’t out of reach!
There are many trees that reach a max height of less than 10m, even at full maturity. Double-check the width as well – some trees grow “upright,” so they’re narrow, but other small trees have sprawling branches.
We’ve categorised the trees and given a few key details about their growth. Here are some of our picks for the best small trees for front yard Australia.
What Counts as a Small Tree?
You can separate trees by species, flowering habits, climate hardiness – and even height! Some trees will keep growing past 15m, while other trees don’t go over 3m.
“Small trees” are generally less than 10m in height and between 1–6m in width (but could be more). There are even dwarf varieties that are small enough to grow in pots.
Small Australian Native Trees for Front Yard
Native plants are some of the best you can grow in any garden. They’re perfectly adapted to the Aussie climate, and they both encourage plant diversity and benefit local wildlife.
There are a lot of Australian native trees, but here are two for small gardens!
6m Average Height | 3m Width | Flowering | Mild Temperate to Tropical
Two caveats here: make sure to get the native version (Hymenosporum flavum), not the exotic one. And ask for small or dwarf versions – full frangipani trees can reach 20m in height!
One benefit to native frangipani trees is that they flower even when still immature. This way, you won’t have to wait a decade to enjoy the gorgeous flowers and heady fragrance.
Grow your native frangipani in full sun, but out of any strong winds. It prefers more alkaline soil as well. And if you do plant one, prepare to have some buzzy visitors – the nectar is popular with bees and nectar-eating birds!
4–6m Height | 5–6m Width | Flowering | Mild Temperate to Subtropical
If you like lemon as a scent, you’ll love the lemon myrtle tree. In the wild, it can reach 20m, but when contained to smaller gardens it’ll only reach 4–6m.
Backhousia citriodora is also known as sweet verbena or lemon-scented myrtle. This rainforest tree prefers slightly acidic soil and full sun, but will tolerate part shade.
Avoid growing trees in areas with frost, since saplings cannot tolerate too-cold temperatures.
The lemon myrtle is also a show-stopper in the summer, with white flowers against dark green leaves.
Fast-Growing Small Trees for Front Yard
Some of us are just a little impatient, and trees take a long time to mature.
You won’t have a fully grown tree in a year, of course, but these fast-growing trees mature quicker than most.
2–4m Height | 3–4m Width | Flowering | Warm Temperate to Subtropical, Coastal
Acacia cultriformis, or the knife-leaf wattle, is a small but fast-growing version of Australia’s national flower. Its max height as a cultivar is around 4m.
The knife-leaf wattle has blade-like blue-grey leaves and golden flowers from winter to spring. It has a dense canopy, so it’s great as hedging or as a privacy screen.
This tree can tolerate coastal conditions, and its non-invasive roots make it good erosion control. Knife-leaf wattles are also frost-tolerant and drought-tolerant. Protect young trees from the cold until they fully mature.
Blueberry ash “Green Dream”
Up to 3m Height | 2–4m Width | Flowering | Warm Temperate to Subtropical, Coastal
Elaeocarpus Green Dream is a specialty tree – the smaller sister of the native blueberry ash. It only reaches 3m in height and 2m in width.
Green Dream is popular due to its pale pink and white flowers, which look stunning amid glossy green leaves. After that, it produces vivid blue fruit (unfortunately not edible). These make it a great feature tree.
Blueberry ash trees like sandy or loamy soil which is neutral to slightly acidic. They won’t tolerate snowy climates, although a light frost is fine.
These trees grow best in subtropical to warm temperate regions, but also thrive along the coast.
Small Flowering Trees for Front Yard
Flowers are a fantastic way to add organic beauty to any yard.
And while bushes and groundcover are popular flowering plants for small gardens, you can plant flowering trees as well!
3–6m Height | 1–6m Width | Flowering | Mild Temperate to Mild Tropical
In late summer, this stunning tree bursts into clusters of rose pink flowers that look “ruffled,” as if made from crepe paper. Then in autumn, the leaves turn orange and red.
There’s a variety native to Australia, the Lagerstroemia archeriana. It can reach 7m in height, and puts out pinkish-mauve flowers.
Crepe myrtle trees prefer well-draining soil but can grow in a wide range of conditions. They prefer open, sunny spots and should be well-watered during summer.
Powdery mildew is a common issue for crepe myrtles. The Indian Summer range has better resistance to powdery mildew than older cultivars.
TIP: Crepe myrtles are great small trees to plant near your house!
4–6m Height | 4–9m Width | Flowering | Temperate to Arid
Cornus florida is a stunning dogwood variety, with creamy white flowers in early spring. It branches out widely, often more wide than it is tall.
Flowering dogwood is more suited to cooler climates since foliage can burn in warmer conditions. It likes morning sun and rich, well-drained soil. You can mulch around the base to retain moisture and provide nutrients.
If you do plant a flowering dogwood, be ready for some visitors – the bright red berries are inedible to humans but are popular with birds.
Small Decorative Trees for Front Yard
Choose these trees if you want to make a statement, no matter the size!
They’ll make your yard the envy of the whole block.
Manchurian Ornamental Pear
Up to 9m Height | Up to 7m Width | Flowering, Non-Edible Fruit | Temperate to Subtropical
Pyrus ussuriensis “Manchurian” is a striking tree, with cream flowers in early spring and gorgeous red foliage in autumn. It can tolerate wind, frost, and heat, but isn’t recommended for coastal areas.
It’s a great shade tree, reaching 7m at max width. But the fruits are inedible, so be mindful that kids and pets don’t get to any fallen produce.
Plant your Manchurian Ornamental Pear in well-draining soil with full sun (although it tolerates partial shade).
NOTE: A popular alternative would be Ornamental Pear Pyrus calleryana! This attractive deciduous species grows upright, so it’s great for restricted lateral space.
Up to 5m Height | 3–5m Width | Irregular Flowering | Warm Temperate to Subtropical
The dragon tree (Dracaena draco) is a popular tree with a bold silhouette. The thick branches spread out dramatically, with blade-like leaves at the ends.
Note that this tree is very slow-growing – mostly a single trunk for the first decade. It’s also frost-intolerant and dislikes wet climates.
Grow your dragon tree in well-draining sandy soil, preferably in full sun. It can produce white flowers but it will take a long time, and flowering is irregular.
Small Fruit Trees for Front Yard
Fruit trees can be very rewarding for a home gardener.
You get to harvest the fruits of your work (literally and metaphorically) – so you can have your tree and eat it, too! (Well, kind of.)
Olive tree “Kalamata”
6–8m Height | 2–3m Width | Edible Fruit | Warm Temperate to Subtropical
We might not think of olives as fruits, but they are! And small olive trees are great both for fruit and for hedging or privacy screens.
The Olea Europea Kalamata or Kalamata olive is a small variety that produces large, black olives – and yes, you can eat them. They’re great for cooking or making oil.
Kalamata trees grow best in warmer climates, but they can tolerate frost and wind. They have pretty grey-green foliage and can spread their branches to provide shade.
Lilly Pilly Tucker Bush Cherry
3–4m Height | Approx 2m Width | Edible Fruit | Temperate to Subtropical
Lilly Pillies are native shrubs or small trees native to Australia. There are three main Lilly Pilly varieties, and the Tucker Bush Cherry falls under Syzygium.
The Bush Cherry is a fast-growing evergreen that bursts into clusters of white flowers in late spring to early summer. The foliage starts out bronze but turns a deep green as the tree matures.
Bush Cherry fruits are ready for picking when they’re dark pink or red. You can use them in a lot of ways – jams, pies, and even wine!
Plant your Tucker Bush Cherry tree in rich, well-drained soil. It likes full sun, but will be fine in part shade. This Lilly Pilly variety is a hardy one, so it can tolerate cold and coastal conditions.
Small Palm Trees for Front Yard
Palms are a universal symbol of tropical vibes and sunny weather.
And in a country with (dare we say) almost too much sun, there are palms aplenty!
Up to 10m Height | 4–6m Width | Flowering | Subtropical and Tropical
Foxtail palms are remarkably new to scientists and gardeners – they were reportedly “discovered” around 30 years ago!
They are named Wodyetia bifurcata after Wodyeti, an Aboriginal man who brought the plant to the attention of botanists.
These palms are endemic to North Queensland, but are now grown in many tropical to subtropical climates. The fronds can reach 3m long and are self-cleaning (meaning they drop on their own – so look out below!).
Foxtails grow naturally on rocky ledges, so plant them in free-draining soil. They can tolerate shade and salt, and love the sun.
5–6m Height | 2–3m Width | Inconspicuous Flowering | Subtropical and Tropical
This clumping palm also has its roots (ha!) in North Queensland. They’re favoured in tropical gardens or poolside landscaping.
The bright green ruffled leaves make the Macarthur palm great for screening, but it’ll also make a statement in your front yard. The fronds get bigger under more sun.
Macarthur palms grow best in moist, well-drained soil and humid conditions. It can tolerate cooler climates but must be grown indoors. This plant is not salt-tolerant.
Small Maple Trees for Front Yard
Most maple trees are towering specimens, but you can still have maples even in smaller gardens!
Up to 5m Height | 3–5m Width | Flowering | Cool Temperate to Subtropical (except Dry Climates)
Acer palmatum changes with the seasons: reddish-purple flowers in spring, deep green foliage in summer, vibrant oranges and reds in autumn, then a striking silhouette in winter.
Japanese maples feature a short, stout trunk with branches spreading out. This particular tree is known in Japan as Momiji.
The Japanese maple is fairly low-maintenance. It prefers slightly acidic and consistently moist soil, as well as full sun. Japanese maples are drought-tolerant when mature and can tolerate winters as low as -10ºC.
NOTE: One popular cultivar is the Coral Bark (“Sango Kaku), with its signature bright red bark.
6–10m Height | Approx 6m Width | Inconspicuous Flowering | Most Climates
The Acer buergerianum is a small tree native to Asia. Unlike the typical maple leaf, the Trident maple – like the name suggests – has three points.
New foliage in spring has a bronze-red shade that deepens into dark green during the summer. It’s very colourful in autumn, with red and orange leaves. The flowers are small, green, and inconspicuous.
Trident maples can cope well with heat and drought. If you notice your tree shedding, don’t panic – larger trees have “exfoliating” bark!
Small Pine Trees for Front Yard
Conifers are an elegant bunch, and the scent of crushed pine needles is intoxicating. While we’re used to the idea of towering pines in forests, you can absolutely cultivate small ones!
NOTE: Australian pines or Casuarina pines may come up in your search. These are not actually pine trees, although they sure look like one. You might also know them as she-oak or beefwood.
White Cypress Pine
4–12m Height | 3–5m Width | Non-Flowering | Warm Temperate to Tropical
This conifer is native to Australia, and has great importance to Aboriginal cultures. The sap or oil from the White Cypress has many uses – resin, medicine, and fixatives, to name a few.
Given its suitability for a wide range of climates and conditions, the White Cypress pine is one of the best small evergreen trees for front yards in Australia.
There are many Callitris varieties, such as the glaucophylla in the southern regions or columellaris in NSW and Queensland. Check with your local nursery to see which variety is most suitable for your area.
White Cypress pines prefer sandy or loamy soil, although they’ll grow even in clay or poor soils. They have dense green foliage with clusters of cones, in which birds love to nest.
Japanese Black Pine
4–6m Height (Pruned) | 3–6m Width | Flowering | Mild Temperate to Mediterranean
Pinus Thunbergii is popular among bonsai enthusiasts, but it’s also a great tree for garden beds. This adaptable tree is native to Japan but grows well in Australia.
Because of its origins, the Japanese Black Pine prefers cooler climates – although nothing below freezing, which could burn the needles.
Plant your Japanese Black Pine in sandy loam that’s slightly acidic. Ensure it gets around 6 hours of full sun, and prune it regularly to prevent fungus.
The best varieties to get are Oculus Draconis, Thunderhead, or Pygmaea, as they do not grow more than 3m.
Small Weeping Trees for Front Yard
Many small weeping trees are “grafted standard,” meaning the branches are grafted onto a “stock” stem. This stem will partially determine the eventual height of the tree.
NOTE: For people considering weeping willows, many willow species are considered invasive weeds. Check your state regulations for allowable species.
“Cheal’s Weeping” Ornamental Cherry
1.8–3m Height | Max 3m Width | Heavy Flowering | Temperate Climates
Prunus “Cheal’s Weeping” is a cultivar of the iconic Japanese cherry. In mid-spring, you’ll be graced with dense clusters of pale pink flowers trailing down towards the ground – a striking focal point.
Even the trunk is ornamental, since the peeling bark is a copper colour. In autumn, the foliage turns gold and red, so it’s a stunner almost year-round!
Grow your Cheal’s Weeping tree in neutral to acidic soil, preferably loam or sandy loam. Avoid letting the soil become waterlogged or soggy. It likes full sun but will tolerate part shade.
Eucalyptus Silver Princess
6–10m Height | Max 3m Width | Flowering | Temperate to Mediterranean
This feature tree is a stunner in all seasons, but it’s especially good for adding colour to your home in winter. The bright red flowers can begin appearing in late winter into spring.
Eucalyptus caesia. or the Silver Princess, takes its name from the silvery-white powder found on flowers, leaves, and stems. In Western Australia, you might know it as Gungurru.
Silver Princess trees prefer low humidity and rainfall, but will grow in most soils so long as they’re well-draining. Plant the tree somewhere sunny, as it is less robust in shade.
Be careful with pruning if you want to maintain the signature “weeping” look. You should only remove damaged growth or unruly/straggly growth.
Essential Maintenance for Front Yard Trees
Depending on the tree you plant, you might need to do regular pruning to maintain its size and shape. If you’re not up for a DIY job, check out pruning services near you!
Keep an eye out for pests and diseases. Some cultivars are hardier than others – but all trees will benefit from good air circulation around their branches, which helps deter disease.
Check your soil type so you can water your trees properly. Clay soils retain moisture more than loamy or sandy soils, so you may have to water less frequently to prevent root rot.
And of course, before planting, check your local council and state regulations! Make sure your chosen tree is permissible in your area.
It’s also a good idea to canvas your area for existing tree species – some trees can be detrimental to other species, such as cedars and apple trees. Being proactive is one of the best ways you can care for your garden!