Columnar or fastigiate trees refer to a narrow form of a tree. They are used for small spaces because they aren’t as wide as other trees. Columnar trees can be planted closely together to form a tall privacy screen, along narrow streets, narrow driveways or used alone as a specimen in formal gardens.

Carpinus ‘Frans Fontaine’ (Frans Fontaine Hornbeam)

The narrowest form of Hornbeams, this variety grows 35′ tall by 15′ wide. To achieve a privacy screen, you can plant several trees together in rows. The dark green foliage offers seasonal interest by turning yellow in the Fall. Click here for more images and information.

Carpinus ‘Fastigiata’ (Pyramidal European Hornbeam)

Another variety of Hornbeam, this cultivar is grown more commonly as a large shade tree. When young, it is a very narrow tree, eventually forming an oval at maturity. Grows 35′ tall by 25′ wide. Click here for more images and information.

Photo by J. Schmidt

Acer rubrum ‘Armstrong Gold’

A very narrow form of Red Maple, growing 40′ tall by 12′ wide. The summer color is medium green, followed by golden orange leaves in the Fall.

Acer’ Armstrong’

Not to be confused with ‘Armstrong Gold’, Armstrong is a fast growing upright tree up to 45′ tall and 15′ wide. Summer leaves are medium green while the fall color is yellow to orange. Click here for images and more information.


Podocarpus macrophyllus (Yew Pine)

Yew Pines are often used as a privacy hedge which grows very tall but can be pruned to maintain size. The dense foliage makes this tree great for sound pollution if you live somewhere noisy. Plant closely to achieve a hedge, or grow alone as a large lawn tree. It grows 50′ tall by 15′ wide at maturity, although it is very slow growing. With the changes in our water quality over the past 10 years, some Podocarpus tend to struggle and show chlorosis and dieback. Using an acid fertilizer regularly to reduce the pH of the soil will help, along with applying an iron supplement with other micronutrients.

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Photo by Monrovia

Podocarpus ‘Maki’ (Maki Yew Pine)

This cultivar of Yew Pine is even slower growing than Podocarpus macrophyllus. It is also much smaller, only growing 15′ tall by 4′ wide. It is an excellent choice for a corner that needs tall privacy near the house and can be planted in a container.

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Photo by Monrovia