Olive Tree for Small Gardens

16th March 2017

Look at me go!

If you are looking for an attractive tree suitable for a small garden, then an Olive tree could be perfect.

Native to the Mediterranean and used throughout history to produce olive oil, you might assume they cannot tolerate British weather, but they can grow fine in a temperate climate. Even in Spain and Greece they sometimes have to endure snow and frost in the winter.

They are drought tolerant, so are good for areas of low rainfall, or raised beds and planters, without needing to water much, to stop them drying out.

  • Mature olive trees are frost tolerant down to -10c, before suffering damage. Young trees are less tolerant. Planting in a pot and leaving out in the summer, then moving to a greenhouse or conservatory during the colder months is one way to protect them. Alternatively they can be wrapped in hessian and left in the garden
  • Olive trees are slow growing, so require little pruning and are very low maintenance.
  • They are best planted in a sheltered and sunny position, with good drainage.
  • Olive trees can live for many centuries, and grow up to 10 metres, but if you plant a young tree it will take about 4 to 6 years to gain its mature shape, which it will keep as it grows larger.
  • The leaves are silvery-grey green, oval in shape and semi deciduous, only falling as a result of very cold weather.
  • Fruit can be grown on the trees if they are well watered in the spring and summer, and experience cold weather in the winter. The trees are wind pollinated.
  • Standard Olives (where the lower branches are removed to create a lollipop shape), are a popular option for formal gardens, and for planters by the sides of front doors.
  • Prices vary based on size and age. You can buy a young standard olive tree a few years old for £29.99 at Thompson & Morgan, Other companies sell more mature Olives, and its even possible to buy really old specimens for hundreds of pounds, that can instantly transform a small garden.
  • Ideal plants to be grown alongside Olive trees are those that are also regularly featured in Mediterranean gardens, such as Lavender, Rosemary, Geraniums etc.
Image credit ; Northmetpit