9 Small & Dwarf Trees for USDA Zone 9 Yards

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Written By Shannon Campbell

Off-Grid Gardener & Food Forager

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Home » USDA Zone 9 » 9 Small & Dwarf Trees for USDA Zone 9 Yards

It can be tricky to find the right trees to plant when you’re working with a small property or limited gardening space in USDA hardiness zone 9.

It’s important to choose compact trees that will fit your space without disrupting your home, plants, or any infrastructure.

Small trees and dwarf cultivars will provide beauty and utility to your landscape as well as maximizing the space you have. And these trees aren’t only suitable for gardeners with smaller properties – they can also be used to fill in space on larger sections too.

Here are nine of the best small trees for zone 9 homes and gardens.

9 Compact Trees For Small Zone 9 Properties

1. Silver King Euonymus (Euonymus japonicus ‘Silver King’)

Silver King Euonymus
Image via Nature Hills

The euonymus genus has an extensive variety of trees, shrubs, and vines that make excellent landscaping tools, and one of the best species is the Silver King cultivar.

This upright shrub is a naturally bushy evergreen, with attractive, glossy evergreen foliage. Each leaf is variegated, with a gray-green center and silvery-white irregular margins.

This versatile evergreen can be grown to great effect in landscape gardening. Use it as a specimen or accent, or a dense and colorful hedge or privacy screen. It will also work well in a mixed border or foundation planting, and can even be used as a small focal point or in topiary.

As well as being beautiful and versatile, the Silver King is highly adaptable too. It is heat tolerant and can grow in poor-quality soil and full sun or partial shade.

Plant it in moist, well-draining soil and keep an eye out for signs of euonymus scale, weevils, and powdery mildew.

Other Common Names: Silver King Japanese Spindle

Growing Zones: 6-9

Average Size at Maturity: 6-7 feet tall, with a 4-5 foot spread

Available at: Nature Hills

2. Ruby Falls Weeping Redbud (Cercis canadensis ‘Ruby Falls’)

Ruby Falls Weeping Redbud
Image via Nature Hills

A beloved native of the eastern and southern US, the Eastern Redbud has been used to produce an impressive number of cultivars that serve different purposes in the landscape.

One of the smallest and most beautiful redbud cultivars is the Ruby Falls, a dwarf species named for both its unique color and growing habit.

The Ruby Falls still possesses the redbud’s electric lavender flowering display in early spring and signature heart-shaped leaves.

Where it differs is in the color of its foliage, which is a deep purple and dark green, and its compact form and weeping branches that sweep to the ground. Despite its small size, the Ruby Falls will make quite an impression on your landscape.

This small tree is best used as a specimen or accent. It is generally low maintenance and pest-free, though it can fall victim to some diseases like verticillium wilt, canker, and leaf spot.

Other Common Names: Judas Tree, Love Tree

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 6-8 feet tall, with a 5-6 foot spread

Flowering Season: Early Spring

Available at: Nature Hills

3. Sioux Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica x faueri ‘Sioux’)

Sioux Crape Myrtle
Image via Nature Hills

Crape Myrtle trees are a no-brainer for US gardeners in warm climates who want a colorful flowering species that will fit well on a smaller property.

This pink flowering Sioux cultivar is a particularly appealing option for gardeners due to its four seasons of interest: beautifully textured bright pink flowers that can last for 3-6 months per year, bright green leaves that turn a flush of red and purple in fall, and exfoliating bark that has a gorgeous marbled effect.

This cultivar can be grown as a single-trunk small tree or a large multi-trunk bush and is excellent for filling in small empty spaces in your yard. It is best used as a specimen, privacy screen, or windbreak.

If you want to keep your Sioux as small as possible, it can be pruned back to maintain a shorter height.

Plant the Sioux Crape Myrtle in deep, well-draining soil and apply nitrogen-rich fertilizer every spring.

Growing Zones: 6-9

Average Size at Maturity: 12-15 feet tall, with an 8-10 foot spread

Flowering Season: Early Spring

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

4. Fireglow Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum ‘Fireglow’)

Fireglow Japanese Maple
Image via Nature Hills

Maples trees are hugely popular in US landscaping, but most of the classic species aren’t ideal for smaller properties, or the heat of a zone 9 climate.

Thankfully, Japanese Maple varieties like the Fireglow are the perfect answer to this dilemma, with their comparatively high heat tolerance and petite size.

The upright Fireglow maple tree reaches just 10 feet tall on average, with a canopy that spreads around 50% wider than its height, while still being small enough to fit a compact space.

It is prized for its foliage, with signature delicate lobed leaves that are an intense red color, and turns a mixture of red, purple, and green in fall.

This cultivar is resistant to heat and drought and is surprisingly easy to grow and low maintenance. Plant it in moist, rich, well-draining soil with a slightly acidic pH and plenty of sun.

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 8-10 feet tall, with a 12-15 foot spread

Flowering Season: Spring

Available at: Nature Hills

5. Little Gem Dwarf Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’)

Bull Bay Magnolia, Southern Magnolia 'Little Gem' (Magnolia grandiflora) Tree, Flower and Fruit
Images by Fern Berg, Own Work, for Tree Vitalize

The Southern Magnolia may be one of the most beautiful magnolia trees available in the US, but it’s also the largest.

But gardeners with small properties need not fear, since the Little Gem is a very handy dwarf cultivar that has all of the beauty of the Southern Magnolia at only a third of its size! It is also rather slow-growing, taking around 20 years to reach its full height of 20 feet tall.

But the ornamental qualities of the Little Gem can’t be beaten. This bold tree has large, glossy evergreen leaves and 8-inch flowers that are a pristine creamy-white color and give off a lovely fragrance.

Though the tree begins producing in spring, they can continue to rebloom through summer and fall, sometimes amounting to 6 months of consistent blooms per year!

The Little Gem Magnolia makes a gorgeous specimen plant, lawn tree, street tree, or container plant (granted you have a big enough container!). Some even use it to establish hedges and screens.

Other Common Names: Little Gem Magnolia, Dwarf Magnolia

Growing Zones: 7-9

Average Size at Maturity: 15-20 feet tall, with a 7-10 foot spread

Flowering Season: Spring

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

6. Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca Pendula’)

Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar
Image by Jim, The Photographer via Flickr

This next small tree doesn’t need colorful flowers or blazing fall color to command attention in the landscape – its twisting, drooping form will do just that!

The Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar is a unique evergreen conifer with a form made up of long, pendulous branches and clusters of short, silvery blue needles. Its canopy is wide-spreading and becomes more flat-topped as it ages.

Its unusual, horizontal drooping habit can be trained into different shapes, as an espalier or to cascade over and down walls, and even its trunk can be trained to be curved and almost snake-like! Without supports however it will naturally grow in a weeping shape, according to the Utah State University Extension.

The Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar is an excellent candidate for a specimen, focal point, or living sculpture. Plant it in a location with full or partial sun in deep, loamy, well-draining soil with an acidic pH.

Other Common Names: Blue Atlas Cedar

Growing Zones: 6-9

Average Size at Maturity: 15-20 feet tall, with a similar spread

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

7. Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia)

Red Buckeye
Image by manuel m. v. via Flickr (cultivar ‘Astrosanguinea’)

A small tree native to the south and southeast, the Red Buckeye is also known as the ‘firecracker plant’, and for good reason!

In spring it produces tubular 3-6 inch red flowers that grow in clusters on upright panicles. From a distance, they look like small explosions of color and last for several weeks at a time. It is one of the earliest flowering plants in zones 6 to 9.

The tree itself has glossy dark green leaves, a rounded growth habit, and a dense canopy. In fall its flowers turn into brown seeds that are not edible for humans but will attract and feed small mammals and birds.

The Red Buckeye makes a lovely accent tree, specimen, screen, or hedge. In zone 9 it should be planted in partial shade to protect from hot afternoon sun, and it prefers moist, fertile, well-draining soil.

Other Common Names: Firecracker Plant, Scarlet Buckeye, Wooly Buckeye

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 10-20 feet tall, with a similar spread

Flowering Season: Early Spring

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

8. Dwarf Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica ‘Globosa Nana’)

Dwarf Japanese Cedar
Image via Nature Hills

Another standout cedar species for small zone 9 gardens is the Dwarf Japanese Cedar, a compact evergreen hailing from Japan and first recorded in Europe in 1923.

It is a highly attractive low-growing cryptomeria variety, with a domed form that adds an unusual aesthetic touch to the landscape.

Its soft, needle-like foliage remains on the tree throughout the year, providing deep green color and a hint of rust or bronze in winter. Because it grows naturally in such a dense, rounded shape it rarely needs to be pruned, and is typically free of pests and disease.

This elegant dwarf shrub works well as a specimen and grows in rows as a hedge along walkways and sidewalks.

The Dwarf Japanese Cedar is very low maintenance and relatively easy to grow if planted in the right conditions. Plant it in a sheltered location in full sun to partial shade and moist, well-draining soil.

Other Common Names: Japanese Cedar

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 4-8 feet tall, with a 4-5 foot spread

Available at: Nature Hills

9. Tea Olive (Osmanthus fragrans)

Tea Olive tree with flowers
Image by Bri Weldon via Flickr

One of the most beautifully-scented species for zone 9 gardens, the Tea Olive (also known as the ‘fragrant tea olive’) is a small tree or shrub with glossy evergreen foliage and clusters of delicate white spring flowers.

These flowers emit a rich, gorgeous fragrance that is often compared to peaches and apricots, and they will make your garden smell heavenly throughout the flowering period.

They may even bloom sporadically through summer and fall, according to the NC State Extension, though this depends on the region – in some areas, they will bloom longest in fall, and in others, they may even bloom year-round!

Grow this lovely dense evergreen as a hedge or screen, include it in a foundation planting, or use it as an accent tree near a walkway or patio. In cooler zones, it works well as a container plant.

This tree thrives in zone 9 in full sun with moist, well-draining soil with a neutral to acidic pH.

Other Common Names: Fragrant Tea Olive, Sweet Osmanthus

Growing Zones: 7-11

Average Size at Maturity: 10-20 feet tall, with a 10-14 foot spread

Flowering Season: Spring, and sporadically in Fall

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

Optimize Your Space With These Small Trees

A compact backyard doesn’t have to be a burden! These small and dwarf tree species are useful landscaping tools that will make the most out of even the smallest spaces on your zone 9 property.

Whether you want to establish a short privacy screen with the Silver King Euonymus or red buckeye, or you want a splash of color with the flowering Sioux Crape Myrtle or evergreen Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar, there are plenty of options open to you.

For more useful landscaping trees, consider these zone 9 evergreen privacy trees or fast-growing trees.

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Shannon Campbell

Off-Grid Gardener & Food Forager

Shannon has always loved looking after trees and plants since as long as she can remember. She grew up gardening with her family in their off-grid home and looking after her neighbor's plant nursery. As a child she also participated in native tree replanting, and as an adult has volunteered in reforestation programs in northern Vietnam. Today, she puts her horticultural efforts into tending her vegetable and herb gardens, and learning about homesteading and permaculture. When she’s not reading, writing, and gardening, she’ll be out fishing and foraging for edible flora and fungi in the countryside around her home.

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