Houses are being built closer and closer together, and we often don’t have room for big, spreading trees. Planting any tree is going to be a challenge in new suburban home landscapes, but nature has the answer. Small outdoor areas, like tiny backyards or small planting islands, like those found between a sidewalk and a street, call for skinny trees. Narrow, columnar trees are also useful for designing an attractive privacy screen, wind block, or sound block. As well as being tall, skinny trees generally don’t have invasive roots, don’t need regular pruning and don’t rob all the light by creating dense shade.

Modern living has us making the most of every bit of landscape space we can. So if you are looking for something unique and have that difficult tight space, try columnar, or fastigiate, trees that have narrow, single trunks. Their natural shape makes them useful in areas with little available space for planting, as well as in areas near a house or deck where spreading trees are impractical. When planted in rows, these erect, uniform trees can also bring a classic, formal look to street sides, garden paths and long driveways.

Here are four of Uncle’s favorite skinny trees. If your landscape has limited space, but you need some vertical visual interest, then these skinny trees are just for you. Not all varieties are available at all locations. For more information about skinny trees or questions about current nursery inventory, please call and speak with one of our experienced nursery staff.

See Related: Evergreens for Living Fences


Armstrong Gold Maple

Height: 40 feet

Spread: 12 feet

Foliage: Green

Fall Color: Golden to Orange

Considered one of the best for early fall color. Armstrong Gold’s rich green foliage remains clean and healthy all season. Plant this tree where the morning or afternoon sun will filter through the autumn leaves, and it will glow like a candle flame. This terrifically showy specimen makes a perfect street tree and is beautiful lining a drive.

Crimson Spire Oak

Height: 45 feet

Spread: 15 feet

Foliage: Dark Green

Fall Color: Rusty Red

An excellent choice for narrow spaces. Crimson Spire is most useful as a privacy screen where space is limited. Dark green foliage turns to spectacular shades of red in autumn. Leaves will turn brown, and many will stay through the winter. This is a strong wooded tree that grows moderately fast. Crimson Spire will withstand high winds much better than softer wooded trees.

Emerald Sentinel Sweetgum

Height: 30 feet

Spread: 12 feet

Foliage: Dark Green

Fall Color: Yellow Orange to Orange

Narrowly and compact, with sturdy upright branches, this tree is ideal for busy city streets. Slower growing than most sweetgum, it is valued for not outgrowing its space. Star-shaped, glossy green leaves in summer change to yellow-orange in fall.

Mountain Sentinel Aspen

Height: 35 feet

Spread: 8 feet

Foliage: Green

Fall Color: Yellow

Extremely narrow and upright with ascending branches. An excellent selection for small narrow space. This skinny Aspen offers the same silvery-gray bark, golden fall color and fluttering leaves as traditional aspen.


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