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Landscape Trees - What Kind and WHy

I always felt that landscape trees are one of the most important aspects of a landscape designs. That's because they have so many outstanding features. They have height, mass and they also provide screening. And let's not forget about spring and fall color.

There are basically three types of landscape trees.

Shade Trees
Ornamental Trees
Evergreen Trees
Shade Trees

Shade trees are typically very large and their canopies offer much needed shade in hot and sunny areas. There are many different shapes form columnar to those with wide canopies. Those with wide canopies will provide the most shade. Picture the stately Elm trees on estates in our American landscapes from years ago. Andrew Jackson Downing used these in his designs. Many old black and white photos portray these graceful trees out in large open lawn areas. Due to their size, however, they must be used with care in areas that they have room to grow. Large open areas are perfect.

The Red Maple is one of my favorites. It has dazzling red color. October Glory and Red Sunset have flaming red and orange foliage in the fall. Red Maples are also a native tree and very hardy.

Ornamental Trees

These trees are usually smaller in size, although some can get quite large. They have outstanding features, such as leaf color, flowers, outstanding bark or interesting shapes and branching structures. Ornamental trees can be used at house corners, near a front door, or out in the open lawn. They also look nice if you have a privacy screening of evergreens. They can be placed in front of the evergreen trees so their features really stand out.

One of my favorite ornamental trees is the Flowering Dogwood Tree. It is a true all season plant. In the Spring, it produces lovely white or pink flowers. It has a lovely shape. Although not a true multi stemmed tree, its branching structure is wide. The leaf has a nice shape too. In the fall it gets red berries which creates not only fall color but also an attraction for the birds.

Evergreen Trees

As their name implies, they are evergreen and retain their leaves all year lawn. Evergreen trees may be have needle type leaves or broadleaf ones. Needle type varieties are such trees as Norway Spruce, Douglas Fir, or Hemlock. Broadleaf evergreen trees are such as the Southern Magnolia with it's large leaves.

Evergreen trees often have a specific purpose for being used. They are used as a screen to block unwanted views or create privacy from an adjacent neighbor or road. Because of their form and mass, they at times can look nice at house corners, as long as enough room is left for their mature size.They can get quite large. There are however, varieties that stay smaller, such as Hybrids of the American Holly. Foster Holly is one that comes to mind and can easily be used in the landscape.

Consider adding trees to your landscape. They add a sense of scale and beauty that no other plant type can. Just be sure to select the right tree for the right place. Size, texture, and sun/shade conditions should all play a part in your decisions. 

About the author 

Susan Schlenger is a Landscape Designer with a degree in Landscape Architecture. Please visit Landscape Trees to learn more about trees in your landscape. You might also enjoy visiting Evergreen Trees for some suggestions.