Small trees are ideal for the urban home garden, providing colour and structure to a small back or front yard without dominating the house or the other plants. Small trees that grow fast are especially handy, as they can quickly enhance a dull yard and add immediate value to a property.
A native of western China, the tung tree (Aleurites fordii) is a fast growing deciduous tree that can grow to be anywhere between 15 and 40 feet tall. The narrow, delicate tree offers smooth, light coloured branches and peach coloured clusters of blossoms, which appear in the spring. The flowers give way to bulbous fruits, and the leaves turn a pale yellow in the fall before dropping. Tung tree does best in full sunlight or mostly full sunlight in USDA zones 8 to 10. Plant the tree in a well draining soil, and water freely, especially during summer droughts. Households with children should exercise caution, as all parts of the tree, particularly the fruits, are toxic.
The mimosa tree, also known as a silk tree, is a fast growing tree native to Japan, Iran and China. The tree grows to be between 15 and 30 feet tall, with a similar spread. Mimosa trees have a distinct appearance, with sprawling branches, fernlike leaves and soft, fluffy pink flowers which light up the tree in summer. Mimosa trees are fairly easy to grow in USDA zones 6 to 9, doing best in a poor or moderately infertile soil in full to partial sunlight. Water the tree frequently, and fertilise during the growing season. Mimosa trees can be invasive in some climates, so check an invasive plant list before planting.
A member of the olive family, glossy privet (Ligustrum lucidum) is an evergreen shrub or small tree that reaches an average height of about 30 feet if left to its own devices. Glossy privet offers small, glossy green leaves, tiny white flowers and black berries, which are feasted on by birds. The tree grows best in full sunlight in USDA zones 8 to 10, ideally in a well draining soil. Glossy privet is tolerant of pollution, poor soil quality and even drought. Originally native to eastern Asia and Malaysia, the glossy privet is remarkably hardy and can become invasive in some habitats.