8 of the Best Trees For Your Small Backyard

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Trees are a great way to provide shade and privacy for your yard, especially if you live on a standard city-sized lot. Find out the best backyard trees for a small yard.

Now that the trees in my backyard have matured, I have a lot more shade and love that I can grow these shade-loving shrubs and ground cover perennials that thrive in the shade.
Best backyard trees

Best Backyard Trees For A Small Yard

One of the problems with moving into a new construction, builder-grade home like I did, is that there are no trees to be found anywhere!

They actually had to clear the forest in order to build the subdivision I live in and there still weren’t any trees in my backyard when I moved in.

With the sun beating down in the summer, my yard was way too hot to enjoy so I set out to plant some backyard trees that would provide some shade. Which can be a little easier said than done since I live in a subdivision with a standard subdivision-sized lot (in other words, not that big).

Southern Live Oak Tree with Spanish Moss | © Darwin Brandis - stock.adobe.com
Southern Live Oak Tree with Spanish Moss | © Darwin Brandis – stock.adobe.com

While I had dreams of a beautiful Southern garden complete with a live oak and Spanish moss dripping from its branches, I had to come back to reality…and realize that there is no way I could fit one of those into my backyard. (Not to mention that I’m not sure it would actually survive where I live).

What I needed were small shade trees that were tall enough to walk (or sit under), let enough light through that I could still garden around them and provided some privacy from my very nice but very close neighbors. Oh, and they needed to look good, too.

Keep reading to see my list of the best backyard trees. These are the ones that I planted to provide shade and privacy for my smaller sized yard and am very happy with the results. (As a side note, I am also fortunate that my property backs on to a ravine. So in the years since I moved in, a lot of the trees at the back have grown much taller and also help to provide some shade in the late afternoon.)

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4 Responses

  • I found your post while looking for ideas to do exactly what you describe – add some shade to my small, all full SC sun, western exposure back yard. It’s brutal back here! Can you share your source for somewhat mature trees?

    • Hi Dawn…I live in Greenville (so I’m not sure if these are close to you) and have a few nurseries in the area that I like: Easley Nursery (probably has the best selection of larger sized trees), South Pleasantburg nursery, and Lichtenfelt nurseries. If you don’t mind driving up to Asheville, North Carolina, B.B. Barns is another option. Hope that helps!

  • Hi Wanda,
    Just found your site tonight and am absolutely loving your garden section. Regarding the photo for the BLUE NEEDLE EVERGREEN TREES…do you happen to know the name of the tree that is to the right of the Hoopsii’ blue spruce? There is a Japanese maple underneath it. I am really liking that entire vignette and hoping that the tree with the lilac blooms is appropriate for Colorado (zone 5). TIA!

    • Thanks Molly! That is actually a standard lilac bush that has had all of the lower branches removed so it looks more like a tree…as you can see, doing that allows other plants to grow under it 🙂 This is in my mother’s garden in Toronto (also zone 5) so you should be able to achieve something similar.

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