Small urban lots place many constraints on plant selection.
Columnar plants can be strategic solutions for these situations. In addition, tall and narrow shapes provide a very strong structural element to gardens of all sizes.
The following list offers some suggestions of columnar to conical (cone-shaped) plants for a tight area.
Plants with an * are evergreen.
Download the list: Columnar Plants
Acer rubrum 'Bowhall' - Narrow form of red maple. Bright red fall color. Grows 1.7’/year. Matures at 40-50’ tall and 10-15’ wide. Full sun.
Carpinus betulus 'Franz Fontaine' - Horn-beam. A dense pyramid of textured leaves. Reaches 30’ tall and 15’ wide. Full sun.
*Cupressus sempervirens 'Tiny Tower’, and 'Stricta' - Italian Cypress. A classic in columnar plants. 'Tiny Tower’ reaches 25’ tall and 3-4’ wide. 'Stricta’ reaches 40-60’ tall and 3-5’ wide. Excellent drainage, shelter from severe winds and cold. Full sun.
Fagus sylvatica 'Red Obelisk' - One of several beech cultivars that are narrow. Maroon leaves in summer. Grows to 35’ tall and 8’ wide. Full sun.
Koelreuteria paniculata 'Fastigiata' - Golden Rain tree. Feathery deciduous foliage is topped by sprays of yellow flowers in summer. Fast growing to 35’ tall and 6’ wide. Easy. Full sun.
*Pinus flexilis 'Vanderwolf’s Pyramid' - A soft pine with striking steel blue needles. Grows 16”/year. Reaches 30’+ tall and 10-15’ wide. Full sun and good drainage.
*Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Gracilis’ - Slender Hinoki Cypress. Artistic structure complimented by dark green, fan-like foliage. Grows 3-6”/year reaching 20’ tall and 4-5’ wide. It can reach 30’ in time. Full sun to part shade. Good drainage.
Columnar Apples - An apple that reaches 12’ tall and 3’ wide. White flowers with a pink blush in spring and colorful, edible fruits in the fall. Three varieties available: 'Golden Sentinel’, 'North Pole’, and 'Scarlet Sentinel’ - Full sun.
*Ilex vomitoria 'Will Flemming’ - A dense column of tiny, shiny, dark green leaves. Grows 6-12”/year reaching 15’ tall and 2-3’ wide. Full sun to partial shade.
*Juniperus scopulorum 'Skyrocket’ - Silvery blue spire of scaly foliage. Grows 12”/year reaching 10-15’ tall and 3-5’ wide. Full sun and good drainage.
*Juniperus scopulorum 'Moonglow’ - Intense silver blue foliage creates a dense pyramid. Grows 12”/year reaching 15-20’ tall and 5-8’ wide. Full sun.
Laburnum anagyroides 'Sunspire’ - Columnar Golden Chain Tree. Deciduous, three lobed leaves and clusters of bright yellow pea-shaped flowers in early summer. Green bark. Slow grower, 12-15’ tall and 5-8’ wide. Full sun.
*Pinus sylvestris 'Fastigata’ - Narrow form of Scotts pine. Thick blue green needles and reddish bark are a nice contrast. Grows 12”+/year reaching 20’ tall and 3-4’ wide. Full sun and good drainage.
*Taxus baccata 'Stricta’ - Irish Yew. Dark green spire. Slow growing (3-6”/year) eventually to 20’ tall and 3-5’ wide. Full sun to partial shade. Good drainage.
*Thuja occidentalis 'Holmstrup’ - Compact, dark green foliage. Grows 6-12”/year. Conical habit, 8-12’ tall, 4-5’ wide at base. Full sun to partial shade.
*Buxus semp. 'Graham Blandy’ - A narrow form of English boxwood. Grows 3-6”/year in height. But is no wider than 3’. Full sun to part shade.
Berberis thunbergii 'Helmond Pillar’ - A deciduous barberry with dark maroon leaves. It matures at 4-5’ tall and 2’ wide. Requires full sun.
*Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Blue Surprise’ - Soft, feathery, powder blue foliage with purple tints in winter. Matures at 8’ tall and 2-3’ wide. Full sun and excellent drainage.
*Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Boulevard’ - Very soft blue, curly foliage with purple tints in winter. Slow to 8-12’ tall and 4-6’ wide. Full sun, good drainage.
*Chamaecyparis thyoides 'Red Star’ - Tiny, green, star shaped foliage turns maroon in winter. Slow growing dwarf conifer (1-3”/year) stays narrow. Requires full sun. Tolerant of many soil types.
*Ilex crenata 'Sky Sentry’, or ‘Sky Pencil’ - Small, rounded, glossy leaves and black berries. Slow growing to 10’ tall and 1½’ wide. Needs full to partial sun.
*Juniperus communis 'Compressa’ - Conical, with grey-green foliage. Slow growing (3-6”/year) reaching 2’ tall and 6” wide in ten years.
*Juniperus communis 'Gold Cone’ - Bright yellow foliage in spring and summer. Grows 3-6”/year reaching 6’ tall and 2’ wide. Needs full sun and good drainage.
*Picea glauca 'Conica’ - Dwarf Alberta Spruce. Cone-shaped plant with compact foliage. Grows 3”/year, to 8’-12’ tall and 3-5’ wide. Requires full sun.
*Pinus sylvestris 'Sentinel’ - A dwarf, narrow form of Scott's pine with bluish needles and reddish bark. Slow growing to 4’ tall and 1’ wide in ten years. Needs full sun and good drainage.
*Taxus baccata 'Amersfoort’ - An unusual yew with stubby, wide needles and distinctive structure. Grows 1-3”/year (no information on mature size). Full sun to partial shade.
*Taxus x media 'Beanpole’ - A dense pillar of dark green foliage. Very slow growing (1-3”/year) indefinitely. Full sun to part shade. Protect from severe winter winds.
*Thuja occidentalis ‘Degroot’s Spire’ - Very narrow form of arborvitae with spirally arranged foliage. Grows 6-12”/yr indefinitely. 8’ tall and 1’ wide in ten years. Full sun to partial shade.