Trees often serve as a focal point of a mature landscape because of their imposing height and sometimes their far-reaching branches. They also define spaces, act as barriers, provide color and texture, and much more. Trees play a lot of roles and accordingly, it’s important to understand what you want from your trees before adding them to your landscape.  Most trees can be grouped into four categories:  shade trees, flowering trees, ornamental trees, and evergreen trees.

Shade Trees

When you think of large trees, you may likely think of shade trees. Their graceful, arching canopies cast shade over yards, streets, and homes below. A shade tree is an excellent addition to the home landscape because the canopy provides summer shade, but when the leaves drop in winter more of that ever-important sunlight reaches the home. Some of the options to consider for large shade trees include pine oaks, silver maples, English oaks, tulip trees, white ash, and American sycamores.

Flowering Trees

Flowering trees can range in size from a large shrub, like a serviceberry, to large and dramatic, like a weeping cherry tree. One flowering tree can provide a focal point while in bloom. Multiple flowering trees can have greater visual impact if planted in groups, or lining a driveway or path. Just be sure to consider the size and the sun or shade needs for your flowering tree before planting. Most flowering trees only bloom for a few weeks out of the year, so the tree needs to be right for your landscape all year long. Beautiful flowering trees to consider include Eastern redbuds, flowering dogwoods, forsythia, crape myrtles, and magnolias. While traditional shade trees offer broad home or yard coverage, many flowering trees offer direct shade to a specific area. These trees are perfect for sitting beneath and getting lost in a book or enjoying a backyard picnic. 

Ornamental trees

There are many specimen trees that are planted and enjoyed just for their visual appeal. These can include Japanese maples, any number of conifers, and even Sago palms or pygmy date palms. These trees are often slower growing and more expensive, but their beauty earns them a place of distinction in the landscape. 

Evergreen trees

Evergreen trees come in all shapes and sizes, and as a result they have different uses in the landscape. Large, dense evergreens like many pines and spruces are effective windbreaks, and can also provide screening on larger properties. Small, narrow evergreens like arborviate and some cedars and cypress can form excellent privacy screens without taking up too much real estate. Evergreen trees can also come in a wide range of colors, from light to dark green, blue, and even gold, so personal preferences can usually be met.

What tree is right for your landscape project? Selecting the right tree provides an investment in your property that compounds year after year. If you’re unsure what tree is best for you, consult with your local landscape professional.

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