Select the Best Trees for Your Yard

Select the Best Trees for Your Yard
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    Adding a tree to your yard provides your home with shade and can enhance the overall look of your property.

    Trees can also contribute to your home’s resale value according to the United States Forest Service.[1]


The type of tree to add to your property depends on several factors including your location, soil and your personal tolerance for debris. Cost is another factor and becomes all the more significant when choosing a mature or an expensive tree.

Tree Categories

Trees come in various shapes and sizes and are divided into two categories: conifers and deciduous.

Conifers keep their leaves or needles all year long, remaining green no matter the season. Hemlocks, spruce, pine and firs are included in this category. Its cones are the “flowers” these types of trees produce.

Deciduous trees are broadleaf, with leaves wider and longer than conifers. These trees usually lose their leaves before winter and get new leaves in the spring.

Tree Maintenance

Your tree selection process may come down to how much seasonal maintenance you want to handle. When searching for trees, learn about its maturity — oak trees can take up to 25 years to reach full growth with acorns not showing up for another 25 years. A weeping willow, however, grows very fast adding 6 to 8 feet each year and reaching maturity in as few as five years.

With scores upon scores of tree species to choose from, how can you best find the right tree for your area? After all, someone who lives in Boise, Idaho will find that his tree selection is quite different from the lady living in Charleston, SC. A southern magnolia has limited range and it certainly won’t grow anywhere outside of the deep south even if this tree is admired by people everywhere.

There are two ways you can determine the best trees for your area:

1. Ask your nursery. Nurseries and garden center employees know which trees grow best in your area and can offer to you a catalog based on local trees. State landscaping associations and your state’s extension service are other places to consider.

2. The United States Department of Agriculture offers maps of the ranges of tree species in North America. Information is quite detailed, with areas of the country highlighted to reflect where particular trees are grown.[2]

Tree Benefits

You’ll also want to keep in mind how soon you want to enjoy the benefit of a new tree. That weeping willow will make its presence known within a year or two, but an oak tree may not provide any substantial benefit for you until after you’ve moved or died. Look for a tree with a mature height of 30 feet or less to enjoy its presence sooner.

Beyond maturity factors, there are certain characteristics you may prefer in a tree. Shape, seasonal color including flowers in the spring and bright leaves in autumn should be considered. Shape, bark texture and the tree’s ability to attract wildlife including birds may be important to you. Ornamental trees are popular for their quick maturity and seasonal beauty. Some trees, such as dogwoods, are prone to disease and may not be around long for you to enjoy. Find out if there is a particular blight that might pose a problem for the tree you like.

Soil condition can have a profound impact on your tree and must be taken into consideration when making a selection. Weeping willows, contrary to popular belief, do not need to be located near sources of water, are highly adaptable and are fairly drought tolerant. If erosion is problem, this tree can counteract that problem too.

Cost Options

Nursery and garden center trees are usually no larger than 8 to 10 feet, but trees of 20 feet or taller can be ordered, an ideal option if you must have that red maple in your yard and you don’t want to wait many years for full maturity. According to Mother Earth News, smaller trees cost between $50 and $150 with larger trees costing $200 to $600 or more.[3] Delivery and planting will add to your expense, but at the USFS notes, you may see the value of your home rise by more than the cost of planting a tree.


[1] United States Forest Service; USDA Forest Service Research Helps Quantify the Value of Trees in Communities Across the Nation; Nov. 2010

[2] United States Geological Survey: Tree Species Distribution Map for North America

[3] Mother Earth News; Best Trees for Your Yard; Jeff Ball; April/May 2010


Seminole County, Florida; What You Should Know About Trees; Al Ferrer

City of Murfreesboro, Tennessee; Choosing “Sewer Safe” Trees; Brett Ward and Wayne K. Clatterbuck

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation: How to Select an Arborist or Tree Service

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Categories: Garden Plants

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Auto Trends Magazine", an online publication. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and weblogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".