Trees provide essential structure and lay the framework for your landscape. Trees not only provide a focal point for your yard, but also offer shade as well as shelter for birds and wildlife. And although many trees tower far above the ground, there are varieties for virtually all landscape needs and wants. Trees offer a range of color and foliage types, growth speeds and density. With so many things to consider, determining the best trees for your landscape can be a difficult, confusing task. The Better Homes and Gardens Plant Encyclopedia lists trees based on common and scientific name, and offers options that help solve certain landscape problems. Essential growing information, including USDA Hardiness Zone, sun or shade tolerance, and moisture requirements, is also included. You'll also learn the mature size and growing characteristics of each tree to help you make the best use of your space. View a list of trees by common name or scientific name below.
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Graceful, delicate branches combined with small leaves and peeling bark (on some species) make sure that birch trees amp up a landscape’s appeal. They’re especially dramatic when planted as an allee (in rows on either side of a path), in a grove, or near water where their impact is doubled in reflection. As medium to large trees, members of the birch family can be incorporated into large suburban residential landscapes with relative ease. Many native species provide welcome habitat for local wildlife. Birch trees generally thrive in moist, well-drained soil and cool, moderate climates. They struggle to survive in hot, dry regions.

Bismarck Palm

A slow-growing tree with gorgeous stiff, waxy leaves, Bismarck palm creates a big presence in the landscape. Not only do its 4-feet-wide palmate leaves come in intriguing shapes and textures but its trunk also displays intriguing patterns created by persistent leaf bases. Plant Bismarck palm as a focal point in the landscape, but keep in mind that its eventual height (up to 60 feet) may overpower a small home.

Bald cypress

Bald cypress is an easy-to-grow North American native conifer that features feathery, soft, green needles and attractive peeling bark. Unlike many needled conifers, the needles turn a delightful shade of russet-red in autumn, then fall off the tree in winter revealing its delightful architectural shape. In spring, new needles emerge.

Bald cypress is wonderfully adaptable, growing well in any average or wet soil. This is one of the few trees that tolerates standing water. It grows best in full sun and moist, acidic soil, however.

Bald cypress is the official state tree of Louisiana.


A versatile, handsome tree, the beech takes center stage in the garden come fall when leaves change to red, gold, orange, or brown. Beech trees stand proudly upright or bend and weep; jagged leaves vary from deep green to variegated rose, white, green, or bronzy-purple. For the best leaf color, plant beeches in full sun. The hardy American beech is a U.S. native with larger leaves and light gray bark.


Dancers in the garden, aspens are popular choices for fast-growing windbreaks, screens, and mass plantings. Their oval leaves flutter in the slightest breeze. These extremely cold-hardy trees can gain almost 5 feet in height per year. Avoid problems with their invasive roots and suckering by selecting species and varieties that won't run rampant. Enjoy the best fall color with the quaking aspen. The trees have a preference for moist, well-drained soil but they adapt to almost any soil.


The magnificent shade tree that has it all: tolerance for difficult soils and conditions; spectacular purple, red, orange, or gold fall color; and a stately silhouette. Shapes range from broad-domed to narrow teardrop, but most ash varieties will require a large, open space to become the crowning glory of your landscape. Ashes are good choices for dry or alkaline soils.


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American Hornbeam

A North American native tree boasting a kaleidoscope of color, American hornbeam unfurls striking reddish purple leaves in spring. The leaves turn dark green in summer and then come ablaze with shades of yellow and orange-red in fall. This tree brings interest to the winter landscape, too, by displaying blue-gray bark with a slightly rippled appearance that earned the common name musclewood. At 20–35 feet tall and wide, the American hornbeam tree suits most residential landscapes. It’s also notably pest- and disease-resistant.


Palmetto, or palmetto palm, is a common name used for several different palms that are commonly used in home landscapes. Most are drought-tolerant and grow well in full sun but they can range from 10 to 70 feet tall and 6 to 18 feet wide.

The size depends on the variety and location. Their hardiness also varies by species, with some being hardy as far north as North Carolina. Most are low maintenance once established and hold up well to drought and other tough conditions.



If you love evergreen trees but also appreciate colorful fall foliage, consider the larch. This tree looks like a pine or spruce in spring and summer with its tall form, short green needles, and small cones. But in autumn, larch’s soft, feathery needles turn bright golden yellow then fall off to reveal its architectural branching pattern. These coniferous trees, which vary in size by species and cultivar, thrive in areas with cool summers and cold winters. They prefer moist or boggy soil.