15 Pretty Maple Trees to Plant for a More Vibrant Landscape

maple tree close up leaves
Photo: Bob Stefko

Known for their vibrant fall foliage, maples are some of the most popular landscape trees. No matter what size yard you have or the climate you live in, there's a colorful maple tree variety to fit your growing conditions.

01 of 15

Japanese Maple

japanese maple over pond
Mike Jensen

Featuring graceful forms and finely cut foliage, Japanese maples come in hundreds of stunning varieties. In general, Japanese maples remain compact and can fit into tight spaces. You also can grow them as a bonsai.

Botanical Name: Acer palmatum

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade

Size: 2-30 feet tall (depending on variety)

Zones: 5–8

02 of 15

Coral Bark Maple

Coral Bark maple
Mike Jensen

When you want year-round color, a coral bark maple won't disappoint. This variety of maple tree has reddish pink bark and pale green leaves that turn bright yellow in the fall. In the winter, the color of the tree's bark brightens so it stands out in a snowy landscape.

Botanical Name: Acer palmatum 'Sangokaku'

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade

Size: 15–20 feet tall, 12 feet wide

Zones: 5–8

03 of 15

Paperbark Maple

Paperbark maple
Jane Milliman

Perfect for small yards, this gorgeous, slow-growing maple tree develops lovely, peeling, red-brown bark. This maple variety produces bright green foliage, which turns reddish-yellow in fall.

Botanical Name: Acer griseum

Growing Conditions: Full sun

Size: 20–30 feet tall, 12 feet wide

Zones: 5–7

04 of 15

Sugar Maple

red sugar maple
Denny Schrock

When it comes to fall color, sugar maples are at the top of the list. These native maples are absolutely spectacular in autumn when their foliage turns vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow. They make excellent shade trees for large backyards. There are a number of variety options to choose from, but 'Green Mountain' is one of the most popular because it is drought resistant.

Botanical Name: Acer saccharum

Growing Conditions: Full sun

Size: 50–75 feet tall, 30–45 feet wide

Zones: 4–8

05 of 15

Silver Maple

Silver maple in orange light
Bob Stefko

Silver maple is a graceful, fast-growing type of maple tree that does best planted in moist locations away from buildings because they tend to drop branches easily. They have aggressive root systems that can infiltrate sewer systems so it's best planted away from underground pipes. Hybrids such as 'Silver Queen' or 'Silver Cloud' are less messy and aggressive.

Botanical Name: Acer saccharinum

Growing Conditions: Full sun

Size: 60–80 feet tall, 40–60 feet wide

Zones: 3–9

06 of 15

Red Maple

lush Red maple tree
Denny Schrock

A North American native, red maple forms an oval crown of bright green leaves that turn fiery red in autumn. Growing at a moderate rate, red maple makes a sturdy, beautiful shade tree. Look for top varieties such as 'Red Sunset', 'October Glory', 'Red Supersonic', 'Ruby Frost', and 'Columnar'.

Botanical Name: Acer rubrum

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade

Size: 40–60 feet tall, 30–40 feet wide

Zones: 3–9

07 of 15

Hedge Maple

Hedge maple
Denny Schrock

The rounded form of hedge maple is easily sheared to any height to create a privacy screen or living wall. In the fall, this maple tree develops pretty, pale yellow leaves. 'Metro Gold' and 'Royal Ruby' are two reliable varieties with bold fall color.

Botanical Name: Acer campestre

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade

Size: 20–35 feet tall, 20–30 feet wide

Zones: 5–8

08 of 15

Crimson King Maple

Crimson King maple
Peter Krumhardt

This popular purple-leaf maple tree is actually a form of the common Norway maple. In fall, the foliage of 'Crimson King' maple turns a deep maroon. Like other Norway maples, it can be invasive in some regions.

Botanical Name: Acer platanoides 'Crimson King'

Growing Conditions: Full sun

Size: 35–45 feet tall, 25–30 feet wide

Zones: 3–7

09 of 15

Snakebark Maple

Snakebark maple
Denny Schrock

Named for its unique, striped bark, snakebark maple is a relatively compact type of maple tree, making it a good choice for small backyards. Plant these small trees where you can admire its spectacular bark, which becomes more colorful with age.

Botanical Name: Acer pectinatum ssp. forrestii

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade

Size: 15–20 feet tall, 15 feet wide

Zones: 5–9

10 of 15

Korean Maple

Korean maple
Denny Schrock

If you love Japanese maple varieties but live in a region where they won't survive the winter, try Korean maple. These rugged, small trees can tolerate colder temperatures (however, they don't like hot, dry weather). In the spring, Korean maples develop small purple flowers, and their deeply lobed, dark green leaves turn crimson in autumn.

Botanical Name: Acer pseudosieboldiana

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade

Size: 15–25 feet tall, 15 feet wide

Zones: 4–8

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Trident Maple

Trident maple
Denny Schrock

Resistant to air pollution, trident maple is a good choice for an urban street tree. It grows slowly, so it rarely needs pruning, making it a low-maintenance shade tree. It's also relatively drought and disease resistant. In the fall, this variety of maple tree's bright green, lobed foliage turns scarlet and orange.

Botanical Name: Acer buergerianum

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade

Size: 20–30 feet tall, 20–30 feet wide

Zones: 5–9

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Three-Flowered Maple

Three-flowered maple
Denny Schrock

Also called roughbark maple, three-flowered maple is a versatile, small tree develops interesting ridges or knobs on the trunk as it matures. It is one of the few varieties of maple trees with bright fall color even if grown in the shade. Plus, its ivy-like leaves give this maple a unique texture.

Botanical Name: Acer triflorum

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade

Size: 20 feet tall, 20 feet wide

Zones: 5–9

13 of 15

Miyabe Maple

Morton Miyabe maple
Denny Schrock

In addition to gorgeous fall color, Miyabe maple is also very adaptable. It will tolerate heat, cold, just about any soil type, and urban air pollution. Its dense branches make it a terrific shade tree. Miyabe maple would be a good substitute for ash trees where emerald ash borers are a problem. Two excellent selections are 'Morton' and 'Rugged Ridge'.

Botanical Name: Acer miyabei

Growing Conditions: Full sun

Size: 40–50 feet tall, 30–35 feet wide

Zones: 4–6

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Autumn Blaze Maple

autumn blaze maple
Courtesy of Green Thumbs Garden/Etsy

A cross between sugar maple and red maple, Autumn Blaze maple is a fast-growing tree that has long-lasting, fiery fall foliage. This popular variety has few flowers ands messy seeds.

Botanical Name: Acer x freemanii 'Jeffersred'

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade

Size: 40–50 feet tall, 30-40 feet wide

Zones: 3–8

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Tatarian Maple

tatarian tree
Courtesy of Magic Forest Seeds/Etsy

A tough, attractive tree, Tatarian maple tolerates cold winters and hot summers well. 'Hot Wings' offers both bright red seedpods in the summer, and yellow and orange fall foliage, making it a truly show-stopping tree in the landscape.

Botanical Name: Acer tataricum

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade

Size: 15–20 feet tall, 15 to 20 feet wide

Zones: 3–8

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