Small Tree for Tight Spot

October 10, 2008 | By | Comments (4)


Dear Grumpster,
Please suggest a tree for me. We live in lower Alabama and I need suggestions for a tree that will stay compact and not grow too tall for a spot between my house and a new deck. I’m trying to break up/soften the appearance of the area by creating a bed in between the brick houses and new deck.


The Grumpster thinks the best choice for you is a Japanese maple (Acer palmatum). There are a tremendous number of different selections available, including weeping, dwarf, red-leaf and green-leaf types. Given your situation, I would choose a green-leaf type, because red leaves would clash with the brick. One of my favorites is ‘Waterfall,’ which is a weeping, cut-leaf type. It has green leaves that turn golden-yellow in fall.

Another tree you might consider is our native fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus). It’s a small, rounded tree with showy white flowers in spring and bright yellow leaves in fall.



  1. Grumpy Gardener

    I would go for a Japanese maple, although I’m not sure this is going to solve your water problem. Winter is the rainy season in the South, but trees don’t soak up any water then. You may need to install a French drain or consider regrading near the house to get excess water to drain away.

    April 7, 2009 at 9:59 am
  2. Brenda

    Are these trees good for Charlotte NC too? I am looking for a smaller tree to soak up water (to keep the water away from my house)… A tree without a lot of maintenance.

    April 7, 2009 at 8:43 am
  3. Grumpy

    Depending on where you live, not all of the following evergreens may work, but they’re all good for narrow, clipped hedges.
    1. ‘Sky Pencil’ Japanese holly
    2. ‘Graham Blandy’ American boxwood
    3. ‘Hicks’ Japanese yew
    4. ‘Skyrocket’ juniper
    5. ‘Bright ‘n’ Tight’ Carolina cherry laurel
    6. Podocarpus ‘Maki’
    7. ‘Will Fleming’ yaupon
    8. ‘Emerald’ arbor vitae
    9. ‘Teton’ pyracantha

    October 13, 2008 at 1:58 pm
  4. Julia

    I really need a tall but skinny hedge between my home and my neighbors driveway. I have about 7 feet to work with. Thanks for your advice.

    October 11, 2008 at 7:25 pm

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