The Best Trees for Backyards

The Best Trees for Backyards

A Closer Look at Sweet Bay Magnolias, Crepe Myrtles, Sugar Maples, Silver Maples, and Kousa Dogwood

The allure of a beautiful backyard cannot be overstated. It's a sanctuary where you can unwind, entertain guests, or bask in the beauty of nature. One of the most impactful ways to enhance your backyard is planting trees. Trees not only provide shade and aesthetic appeal but also contribute to the overall ecosystem. In exploring the best trees for backyards, we will delve into five exceptional choices:

  • Sweet Bay Magnolias
  • Crepe Myrtles
  • Sugar Maples
  • Silver Maples
  • Kousa Dogwood

Sweet Bay Magnolias (Magnolia Virginiana)

Sweet Bay Magnolias, scientifically known as Magnolia virginiana, is an exquisite addition to any backyard. These trees are known for their captivating fragrance, lush green foliage, and delicate, creamy-white blossoms. Here's why they are a top choice:

Appearance: Sweet Bay Magnolias are evergreen or semi-evergreen trees with a pyramidal or conical shape. They could grow up to 50 feet tall, making them suitable for large and small backyards. The glossy, elliptical leaves and fragrant flowers add charm and elegance to any landscape.

Fragrance: What sets Sweet Bay Magnolias apart is their intoxicating fragrance. The blossoms emit a sweet, lemony scent that fills the air, creating a serene and inviting atmosphere in your backyard.

Versatility: These magnolias can thrive in various soil types, including moist and well-drained soils. They also tolerate partial shade, making them adaptable to different backyard conditions.

Wildlife Attraction: Sweet Bay Magnolias attract pollinators like bees and butterflies, enhancing the ecological balance in your backyard. Additionally, their red fruit cones are a source of food for birds.

Crepe Myrtles (Lagerstroemia spp.)

Crepe Myrtles, scientifically known as Lagerstroemia, are renowned for their vibrant, long-lasting summer blooms and striking bark. These trees come in various sizes, ensuring there's a Crepe Myrtle suitable for every backyard: Blooms: Crepe Myrtles produce abundant clusters of crinkled, crepe-paper-like flowers in shades of pink, red, purple, and white. Their long bloom period, often from late spring to early fall, adds color to your backyard.

Bark: Besides their flowers, Crepe Myrtles have attractive, exfoliating bark that reveals shades of gray, brown, and cinnamon, providing year-round interest.

Size Variety: Crepe Myrtles come in different sizes, from dwarf varieties suitable for small yards to larger cultivars growing up to 30 feet tall. This range ensures you can find the perfect fit for your space.

Low Maintenance: These trees are relatively low maintenance, requiring minimal pruning and upkeep, making them an excellent choice for homeowners seeking a hassle-free addition to their backyard.

Sugar Maples (Acer saccharum)

The Sugar Maple, or Acer saccharum, is a beloved tree known for its brilliant fall foliage and sap used to make maple syrup. Here's why you should consider planting one in your backyard:

Fall Foliage: Sugar Maples are renowned for their stunning fall foliage, with leaves turning vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow. This creates a breathtaking display of colors in your backyard during autumn.

Height and Shade: These trees can reach heights of 60-75 feet, providing ample shade and privacy. They make an excellent choice for homeowners seeking to create a natural canopy in their backyard.

Maple Syrup Production: If you have a knack for D.I.Y. projects, Sugar Maples can provide the sap necessary for making your maple syrup, adding a delightful culinary element to your backyard.

Wildlife Habitat: Sugar Maples provide habitat and food for various wildlife, including squirrels and birds. Their seeds, known as samaras or "helicopter seeds," are a food source for many birds.

Silver Maples (Acer saccharinum)

Silver Maples, or Acer saccharinum, are another maple species known for their unique characteristics and adaptability to various conditions. Here's what makes them an excellent choice for backyards:

Fast Growth: Silver Maples are fast-growing trees, making them an ideal choice to establish shade and privacy in your backyard quickly.

Distinct Leaves: These trees are named for the silvery undersides of their leaves, which shimmer in the breeze. This distinctive feature adds a touch of elegance to your landscape.

Tolerance: Silver Maples are highly adaptable and can thrive in various soil types, including wet or poorly drained areas, making them resilient for different backyard environments.

Aesthetic Appeal: In addition to their striking leaves, Silver Maples produce attractive clusters of red flowers in spring, followed by distinctive winged seeds known as samaras.

Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa)

Kousa Dogwood, or Cornus kousa, is a small ornamental tree that offers your backyard year-round beauty and visual interest. Here's why it's a noteworthy choice:

Flowering Beauty: Kousa Dogwoods produce charming, star-shaped flowers in late spring to early summer. These blossoms come in white, pink, or red shades and stand against the tree's dark green leaves.

Exfoliating Bark: As the tree matures, its bark exfoliates to reveal a mottled gray and tan patchwork, adding textural appeal throughout the year.

Fall Color: In autumn, Kousa Dogwoods put on a show with their brilliant red, purple, or burgundy foliage, making them stand out in your backyard.

Disease Resistance: These trees are less susceptible to diseases like dogwood anthracnose than other dogwood species, ensuring they remain healthy and vibrant.

Choosing suitable trees is crucial in creating the ultimate backyard oasis. Sweet Bay Magnolias, Crepe Myrtles, Sugar Maples, Silver Maples, and Kousa Dogwoods offer unique qualities that transform your outdoor space. Whether you prioritize fragrance, colorful blooms, stunning fall foliage, or easy maintenance, there's a tree on this list to suit your preferences. So, roll up your sleeves, dig in the dirt, and watch your backyard flourish with the addition of these magnificent trees. Your backyard will soon become a haven of natural beauty and tranquility.

Sweet Bay Magnolia

Sweet Bay Magnolia

 Sweet Bay Magnolia Tree is elegantly shaped and will grow to a height of up to 20 feet and spread between 10 and 20 feet when it reaches full maturity. This particular tree grows at a steady rate of between 13 and 24 inches per year. It thrives in May through June. Most of these trees are multi-stemmed specimens. However, there are some single-trunk types out there. Sweet Bay Magnolia has Shiny Leaves And Huge Blooms When it blooms, this glistening tree unveils lustrous, dark leaves with a silvery look. These frosted leaves will grow to a length between three and five inches. In late spring to early summer, creamy white flowers will develop. These are about two to three inches in diameter and let off a lemon scent. This highly fragrant tree is the perfect choice for a patio or backyard where you can enjoy the aroma it releases. Sweet Bay Magnolia Has a Unique Bark Native to the eastern United States, Sweet Bay Magnolia will have smooth, green bark when it's young and mature to have dark gray bark. This deciduous tree will develop aggregate fruit. This fruit will be pickle-shaped and about two inches long. The fruit will start green, turn to light pink, then to a bright scarlet red when it's fully matured. This fruit will naturally split open to showcase its bright red seeds. This will attract many eye-catching wildlife, including quail, gray squirrels, turkey, blue jays, vireos, towhees, Northern flickers, and other songbirds. This compact tree's leaves will turn from a dark green to a breath-taking yellowish-brown tone to set the autumn mood during the fall season. Sweet Bay Magnolia Has Many Names Part of the Magnoliaceae plant family, the Sweet Bay Magnolia Tree is an adorable tree that can be referred to as a Southern Sweetbay, Swampbay, White Bay, White Laural, Swamp Laurel, or Beaver Tree. This long-living and fast-growing tree supports an upright growth habit that demands respect. Its picturesque horizontal branches are adaptable to different growing conditions and can bring a necessary backdrop of luscious green intermingled with white blossoms to any landscaping design.

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Muskogee Crepe Myrtle

Muskogee Crepe Myrtle

Muskogee Crepe Myrtle is hardy in zones 7-9, grown in well-drained soil and full sun. It can achieve heights of 25' with a canopy of 15-20'. Individual cultivars have some variations on mature size; the famous "Muskogee" fits this description and is widely known for its beauty. Some cities have these trees lining the streets, and the sight is breathtaking when they bloom. These trees are indeed the quintessential tree of the south. The Muskogee Crepe Myrtle Is Known For More Than Its Blooms As attractive as the flowers are, there is only one reason to plant Muskogee Crepe Myrtle. The foliage during the summer is a rich, glossy green, which is a perfect background for the magnificent blooms. But the show continues into autumn. The foliage bursts into vibrant shades of red and orange, so this tree is popular with homeowners. This tree continues to provide interest even into winter, as the bark in many cultivars is beautiful. The bark will peel in mature trees, a perfectly normal process for this tree. The trunk and branches take on different hues of color, making it a tree for all seasons. Muskogee Crepe Myrtle Is A Fast Grower This tree is easy to grow and grows rapidly. If planted in an area that allows for its eventual size, pruning is unnecessary and will allow for a showier bark pattern to emerge. It does best in lightly acid-to-acid soil; water needs are low to average once established. It does need to be planted in full sun. This is a homeowner's dream as it shows resistance to disease and drought. Even the gardener's nemesis, deer, doesn't find this tree very palatable, making this an attractive solution to the problem of uninvited guests devouring the landscape. The Muskogee Crepe Myrtle Is Truly A Focal Point Muskogee Crepe Myrtle can be featured as a focal point in a perennial garden. They are stunning when used in mass plantings such as street trees or lining a winding driveway. Equally at home in the front or backyard, they provide an all-season canvas of color to enjoy. These trees bring grace and beauty wherever planted in rural, suburban, or large cities.

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sugar maple tree

Sugar Maple Tree

Sugar Maple Trees are best known for their bright fall foliage and being the primary syrup source; they are native to the northeast United States. The deciduous type can reach heights of 80-115 feet tall, sometimes exceptionally reaching 148 feet. At ten years old, it usually is about 16 feet tall. When healthy, these can live for over 400 years. The leaves are deciduous, with up to 20 cm of length and equal width and five palmate lobes. The Sugar Maple Tree Loves Acidic Soil They can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 3-8. The Acer saccharum prefers deep, acidic to slightly alkaline, and well-drained soil. It has moderate drought tolerance but prefers moist soil conditions. At maturity, the acer saccharum grows to 60-75 feet, with a crown of 40-50 feet. It has a slow to medium growth rate and increases in height anywhere from less than 12 inches to 24 inches per year. Sugar Maple Tree Is Good For Shade And Decor It's both an ornamental and a shade type; it features a spreading canopy that can block sunlight while adding beauty and visual interest to landscaping. Full sun and partial shade are best for them, and they prefer at least four hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight daily. Sugar Maple Tree Has Stunning Orange Foliage In The Fall The sugar maple tree puts on quite a show in the fall, with beautiful leaves turning red, yellow, and burnt orange. In wildlife, they are commonly browsed by moose, white-tailed deer, and snowshoe hare. The seeds, twigs, leaves, and buds feed squirrels. Since it is fast-growing, easy to transplant, and has beautiful color, the sugar maple tree was a favorite type for streets and parks in the 19th century. Ultimately, it proved too delicate to continue in that role, but it is still great for commercial use in syrup production.

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Red Crepe Myrtle

Red Crepe Myrtle

Red Crepe Myrtle is a favorite among home gardeners who want to bring a dramatic pop of color into their yard. While several varieties are available in many different colors, the shrub is a favorite choice for those who want a beautiful, hardy, and low-maintenance tree. The Stunning Appearance Of Red Crepe Myrtle The shrub is a fixture in the southern states but is recommended for growth in USDA hardiness zones 6 to 10. It was named for the crinkly, crepe-like appearance of its flowers, which bloom in early spring and continue throughout the summer in most areas. However, the bark of this tree is just as appealing as the flowers it produces. The bark can be light brown, orange, cream, or cinnamon-colored, giving this shrub its own appeal. Red Crepe Myrtle Is Extremely Hardy  Red Crepe Myrtle is a hardy plant, which makes it a favored option among home gardeners and commercial landscape designers. It is resistant to high heat and tolerant of drought weather conditions. It can be purchased balled and burlap or bare root. It can also be transplanted from containers. They prefer loamy soils but can adapt to most soil types except excessively wet soil. They produce blooms without fertilizer but flourish with regular fertilizer applications. Red Crepe Myrtle Is Exceptionally Versatile One of the most attractive traits of the Red Crepe Myrtle is its versatility. It can be pruned into a shrub or a multi-stemmed tree. Because of its dramatic colors, it is often placed along driveways or around decks. It also makes a lovely specimen tree in any yard or garden. When used as a shrub, it can be used as a border or around entrances. Dwarf varieties can be used as ground cover for an unusual visual effect that adds appeal. 

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