Choosing the Perfect Narrow Tree or Shrub for Your Canadian Garden

Gardening in Canada can be a rewarding experience, but it also comes with its unique set of challenges. From the mild coastal regions of British Columbia to the harsh winters of the Prairie provinces, the diverse climates and soil types across the country require careful plant selection. If you’re looking to add a narrow tree or shrub to your garden, whether for privacy, aesthetics, or to fill a tight space, this article will guide you through some excellent options.

Case Study: A Reddit User's Dilemma

Our journey begins with a Reddit user from Calgary, who sought advice on a suitable narrow tree or shrub for a corner spot in their garden. The plant needed to be narrow, grow to 6-8 feet tall, and provide some privacy. Two suggestions emerged from the discussion: columnar crabapples and upright Junipers. Both plants are suitable for the Calgary climate and meet the user’s requirements.

Broadening the Scope: Trees and Shrubs for All Canadian Gardens

While the Reddit user’s situation provides a great starting point, let’s expand our scope to include all of Canada. Here are some additional plant recommendations that are suitable for various Canadian climates and soil types:

Yukon Sun Rose

Developed in southern Ontario, the Yukon Sun rose is a low-maintenance shrub rose with cheerful, sunny yellow flowers that pop against the plant’s deep green foliage. This rose is resistant to black spot, a common rose affliction, and is hardy down to –35 C, making it a great choice for colder climates.

Strawberry Sky Petunia

This unique petunia features soft-red blooms with a speckled pattern. It’s perfect for full-sun containers or hanging baskets, or along a garden border. Be sure to deadhead blooms throughout the growing season for continuous flowers.

Dark Side of the Moon Astilbe

This plant is notable for its deep, purple-black leaves and characteristic fluffy, fuzzy purple flowers. It thrives in both full sun and full shade and is deer and rabbit resistant.

Rudbeckia Goldblitz

According to the National Garden Bureau, 2023 is the year of the rudbeckia. Rudbeckia Goldblitz is a new variety that is low maintenance and attracts pollinators like hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies. It’s hardy down to –40 C, making it an excellent choice for a wide range of Canadian climates.

Dragon Baby Hardy Hydrangea

If you’re searching for shrubs for a small-space garden, this diminutive hydrangea could be what you’ve been waiting for. Dragon Baby only grows to be about two to three feet tall and wide. The flowers of this dwarf panicle hydrangea start out a creamy lime green and gradually change to pink.

Tips for Gardening in Different Canadian Climates

When choosing a tree or shrub for your garden, consider your local climate and soil type. For example, the columnar crabapples and upright Junipers suggested in the Reddit thread are suitable for Calgary’s climate, which features cold winters and warm summers. On the other hand, the Yukon Sun rose, developed in southern Ontario, is hardy down to –35 C, making it a great choice for colder climates.

In addition to climate, consider the soil type in your garden. The Reddit user mentioned that their garden has clay soil, which can be challenging for some plants. However, many trees and shrubs, including some types of Junipers and crabapples, can tolerate clay soil.

Finally, consider the amount of sun exposure in your garden. Some plants, like the Strawberry Sky Petunia, Dark Side of the Moon Astilbe, and Rudbeckia Goldblitz prefer full sun.

Narrow Trees for Tight Garden Spaces

If you’re dealing with a smaller garden or a narrow space, there are several trees that can fit perfectly into these areas. Here are a few options that you might consider:

Forever Goldie Golden Arborvitae

This conifer is a golden teddy bear of the plant world. It changes color throughout the year, moving from shades of chartreuse to gold in the spring and summer, and taking on an orange cast in the winter. It’s hardy down to -40 degrees Fahrenheit, making it suitable for most Canadian climates.

Wissel’s Saguaro False Cypress

This conifer stands out with its deep blue-green color and oddly bent branches, reminiscent of a cactus. It’s perfect for narrow spaces as it rarely grows wider than 2 feet.

Little Gem Magnolia

This dwarf southern magnolia is an evergreen tree loved for its abundant and fragrant white flowers in spring. It’s a good option for small gardens, maturing at 7 to 10 feet wide.

Blue Surprise Port Orford Cedar

This slender conifer catches the eye with its dusky blue color. It takes on burgundy highlights in cold weather, adding a touch of color to your winter garden.

Swedish Aspen

Swedish Aspens are tightly columnar trees that are perfect for narrow spaces. They have rustling leaves that bring music and fall color to the garden.

Ruby Vase Persian Ironwood

This tree offers winter flowers, interesting bark, and unique foliage that constantly changes color from spring until fall.

Amanogowa Japanese Flowering Cherry

This tree is much narrower than its wider cousins, making it perfect for small gardens. It offers fragrant cherry blossoms in spring and fiery shades of red and gold in fall.

Lindsey’s Skyward Bald Cypress

This conifer provides year-round interest with its interesting branching structure, attractive bark, and feathery foliage that changes color from spring to fall.


Choosing the right tree or shrub for your garden involves considering your local climate, soil type, and the amount of sun exposure in your garden. Whether you’re in Calgary or anywhere else in Canada, there’s a perfect narrow tree or shrub for your garden. From columnar crabapples and upright Junipers to the Yukon Sun rose and the Strawberry Sky Petunia, these plants can add beauty, privacy, and interest to your garden.

Curb Wise