What is a Columnar Tree?

A columnar tree, also known as an upright tree, is a type of tree that has a narrow, upright growth habit. Unlike traditional trees that have a spreading canopy, columnar trees grow vertically, with branches that are closely spaced and grow parallel to the trunk. This unique growth habit makes columnar trees a popular choice for landscaping, as they can be planted in tight spaces or used to create vertical interest in a garden.

Benefits of Columnar Trees

Columnar trees offer several benefits that make them a desirable choice for both homeowners and landscapers. One of the main advantages of columnar trees is their narrow growth habit, which allows them to fit into small spaces. This makes them ideal for urban gardens or areas with limited space. Additionally, their upright growth habit can create a sense of height and vertical interest in a garden, adding visual appeal to the landscape.

Another benefit of columnar trees is their low maintenance requirements. Due to their narrow growth habit, columnar trees require less pruning and shaping compared to traditional trees. This can save homeowners and landscapers time and effort in maintaining their trees. Additionally, columnar trees are often more resistant to diseases and pests, making them a hardy and reliable choice for landscaping.

Popular Varieties of Columnar Trees

There are several popular varieties of columnar trees that are commonly used in landscaping. One of the most well-known columnar trees is the Italian Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens ‘Stricta’), which is characterized by its tall, slender growth habit and dark green foliage. This tree is often used to create a formal and elegant look in gardens.

Another popular variety of columnar tree is the Columnar Norway Maple (Acer platanoides ‘Columnare’). This tree features a narrow, upright growth habit and vibrant green foliage that turns golden in the fall. It is a popular choice for urban landscapes and can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions.

The Columnar European Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus ‘Fastigiata’) is another commonly used columnar tree. It has a dense, upright growth habit and glossy green leaves that turn yellow in the fall. This tree is often used as a hedge or screen due to its dense foliage.

How to Plant and Care for Columnar Trees

When planting columnar trees, it is important to choose a location that provides adequate sunlight and well-drained soil. Most columnar trees prefer full sun to thrive and should be planted in an area that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. The soil should be well-drained to prevent waterlogging, as excessive moisture can lead to root rot.

Before planting, it is recommended to prepare the soil by loosening it and adding organic matter such as compost or peat moss. This will improve the soil’s fertility and drainage. Dig a hole that is slightly wider and deeper than the tree’s root ball, and gently place the tree in the hole, making sure that the top of the root ball is level with or slightly above the soil surface.

After planting, water the tree thoroughly to settle the soil and remove any air pockets around the roots. Apply a layer of mulch around the base of the tree to conserve moisture and suppress weed growth. Water the tree regularly, especially during dry periods, and monitor its growth and health. Prune the tree as needed to maintain its shape and remove any dead or damaged branches.

Uses of Columnar Trees

Columnar trees have a wide range of uses in landscaping and gardening. Due to their narrow growth habit, they can be used to create privacy screens or hedges, providing a natural barrier between properties or blocking unwanted views. Their upright growth habit also makes them suitable for lining driveways or pathways, creating a formal and structured look.

In addition to their functional uses, columnar trees can also be used for ornamental purposes. Their unique growth habit and attractive foliage can add visual interest to a garden or landscape design. They can be planted as focal points or used to frame other plants or features in the garden.


In conclusion, columnar trees are a versatile and attractive choice for landscaping. Their narrow, upright growth habit allows them to fit into small spaces and create vertical interest in a garden. They offer several benefits, including low maintenance requirements and resistance to diseases and pests. With a wide range of popular varieties available, columnar trees can be used for various purposes, from creating privacy screens to adding visual appeal to a garden. By following proper planting and care techniques, homeowners and landscapers can enjoy the beauty and benefits of columnar trees in their outdoor spaces.