10 Great Trees to Consider Planting in Your Yard This Spring
There's a reason Arbor Day is celebrated in Spring--it's a great time to add trees to the landscape! Don't pass up the chance to add lasting beauty to your yard. Trees will not only bring you joy season after season, the right species planted in the right spot can increase property values and decrease utility costs. Plus, you'll be planting something for posterity. Here are 10 trees you should consider.
Good Front Yard Trees: Box Elder
Forget what you’ve heard about boxelder trees (Acer negundo) being weed trees. ‘Kelly’s Gold’ is reason enough to grow this tough, undemanding maple. It starts out with yellow spring foliage, maturing to chartreuse, so it makes a fine focal point, lawn specimen or small shade tree. ‘Kelly’s Gold’ grows quickly after you plant the tree and reaches about 30-40 feet in height. It is hardy in Zones 5-8.
Best Trees for Backyard: Seven-Son Flower
If you haven’t heard of seven-son flower tree (Heptacodium miconioides) before, you’re not alone. But you’ll want to consider it for your yard. It is a true four-season star, with intriguing shape and peeling bark all year round. In late summer, when few other trees or shrubs are blooming, it puts out large white flower panicles. About a month later, the remaining flower sepals turn bright red. Seven-son flower grows about 20 feet tall and 10-15 feet wide. It is hardy in Zones 5-8.
Good Front Yard Trees: Paperbark Maple
There are so many great maples—sugars and reds and Japanese—that it can be hard to pick one. Paperbark maple (Acer griseum) makes that a little easier. If its trademark copper-color peeling bark doesn’t bring enough joy all year round, it also has attractive foliage during the growing season and bright scarlet fall color. Paperbark maple grows slowly to 25 feet tall, 15-20 feet wide, with an open habit that improves with age. It’s well suited to smaller gardens and is hardy in Zones 5-8.
Best Trees for Backyard: Ginkgo
Grow a piece of history—ancient history! Ginkgo trees have been around for millions of years. Once thought to be extinct, they were rediscovered in the 20th century and have since become a valued landscape tree because of their beauty and ability to put up with tough, urban conditions. Their fan-shape leaves are unique and really stand out in fall when they turn bright yellow. This multistem ginkgo is at Lied Lodge in Nebraska City, Nebraska, home of the Arbor Day Foundation. Ginkgo drops its leaves all at once, so enjoy the fall foliage show while you can! Ginkgo grows slowly to 50-80 feet in height, although some cultivars are under 15 feet in mature height. Be sure to plant a male specimen, as female ginkgos drop smelly fruit. It is hardy in Zones 4-9.
Flowering crabapple (Malus spp.) was once regarded as a one-trick pony: a week of bloom followed by green foliage and later messy fruit that didn’t even have the decency to offer much color. But today’s outstanding cultivars have brought a range of both flower colors (white, red, pink) and fruit colors (yellow, orange, red and burgundy). This fine specimen is at the Iowa Arboretum in Madrid, Iowa. Crabapple trees are available in a variety of shapes, including columnar and umbrella, and sizes (generally 8-20 feet tall), so they’re multiseason stars. Flowering crabapple trees are hardy in Zones 4-8.
If you’ve got the space, why not plant America’s national tree? The oak is a symbol of strength and endurance with a mythological past. You can be a part of keeping that alive by planting one. There are hundreds of species to choose from, but landscapers seem to favor the red oak (Quercus rubra) for its quick growth, wide, rounded habit, and fabulous fall color. It grows 60-75 feet tall and wide.
Learn how to keep shade trees thriving.
Photo courtesy of Luke Miller