The 15 Best Trees for Any Backyard
Looking for more shade, color, or privacy for your backyard? These landscaping trees are sure to beautify your property, whatever your needs.
Well-tended, colorful trees can add much-needed shade, privacy, and value to your property. This list of different types of trees includes some of our longstanding favorites that can easily be incorporate into your lawn design—with stunning results.
1. Dogwood (Cornus)
A dogwood tree brings beauty and interest to your backyard all year long. It flowers during spring in a profusion of white, pink, and red blossoms, and then features a lush and compact canopy of foliage in the summer. Most varieties display red foliage in the fall before dropping leaves to show off attractive branching in the winter. There’s a variety for most any zone in the United States, making it no surprise that dogwood is one of the most popular flowering trees in America.
2. Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangeana)
Emblazoned with pinkish-purple, saucer-shaped flowers in the early spring, saucer magnolia is a backyard showstopper. Growing 20 to 30 feet tall and thriving in Zones 4 through 9, it’s an ornamental that’s suitable for almost any yard.
3. Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)
If you’re looking for backyard landscaping ideas that will to add fall interest and color to your property, sugar maple is a great selection. Growing 60 to 75 feet tall, the sugar maple boasts a spreading canopy that puts on a vibrant show in autumn. Considered both a shade and an ornamental tree, it’s no wonder this is an American favorite for the yard.
4. Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)
In as little as five years, the silver maple tree will transform your backyard into a shady retreat. The silver undersides of its leaves not only give the silver maple its name, but also lend the tree a shimmering silver appearance in the breeze. It has a vast root system and large trunk, so be mindful to plant it away from sewer lines and walkways.
5. ‘Green Giant’ Arborvitae (Thuja ‘Green Giant’)
Backyard privacy is important in so many places, but it’s especially crucial between houses and yards in housing subdivisions. There are many reasons that ‘Green Giant’ arborvitae is known as one of the best trees for privacy: A fast-growing evergreen, it is exceptionally hardy, tolerates almost any soil, and has a beautiful conical shape. It’s great for a hedge, a screen, or as a single specimen in the backyard.
6. Weeping Cherry (Prunus pendula)
Few trees are as romantic and elegant as the weeping cherry. With cascading branches festooned with white or pink blossoms in spring, this graceful tree will quickly become the highlight of any backyard. Growing 20 to 30 feet tall, with a 20- to 25-foot spread, it’s small enough to fit almost anywhere.
7. Red Oak (Quercus rubra)
The red oak gets its name from the brilliant leaf color it shows off in the fall. Popular for both its hardiness and beauty, it’s also one of our favorite fast growing trees. Reaching up to 75 feet tall in maturity, red oak has a rounded canopy that makes for excellent shade in larger backyards.
8. American Holly (Ilex opaca)
Whether you’re looking for evergreen privacy trees for your yard you just want to enhance your property with a singular ornamental stunner, American holly delivers. Small, white springtime blooms give way to red berries (actually drupes) in the fall, which remain throughout winter. Holly offers both visual interest and food for wildlife, attracting birds and other small creatures to your yard.
9. Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
One of the first signs of spring is the brilliant purplish-pink flowering of the eastern redbud, but its branching pattern makes this tree just as beautiful in winter as it is the rest of the year. Growing 20 to 30 feet high, with a 30-foot spread, the eastern redbud will make a dramatic display in any backyard.
10. Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)
The tulip tree, liriodendron tulipifera, does double duty as a shade tree and an ornamental. It is bursting with tulip-shaped flowers in springtime and flaunts brilliant yellow leaves in the fall. One of our favorite fast-growing shade trees, the hardwood tulip tree can grow more than 2 feet in a year. It is has few pest problems and can be grown in Zones 4 through 9, making it an ideal choice for backyards throughout the country—providing they can handle its height.
11. Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera)
If you are looking for a tree that will quickly make an impression, consider the paper birch. The tall and lean tree is a fast grower that can reach up to 60-feet tall. Its green leaves turn golden yellow in the fall, which creates a contrast with its white peeling bark. Native to northern North America, the paper birch can be grown in zones 2 through 7.
12. Crabapple (Malus)
You can enjoy the colors of a crabapple tree practically year round. In spring, flowers bloom in shades of white, pink, or red depending on the variety. At the end of summer you will notice the small apples fruiting, which last into winter even after the vibrant red and orange leaves fall off the tree. Grow it in Zones 4 through 8 in full sun with well-drained soil for a dense tree.
13. Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginicus)
Suitable in hardiness zones 3 through 9, the fringe tree can grow in most of the United States. It makes a showy appearance in early spring with its feathery white flowers, hence its name. While delicate looking, the fringe tree is tolerant to pollution which makes it a great pick if you live in a city or high-traffic area. You can expect the tree to grow 12 to 20 feet tall and wide.
14. Washington Hawthorn (Crataegus phaenopyrum)
If you want to attract birds and butterflies to your yard, consider planting a Washington hawthorn. This smaller deciduous tree—it grows no taller or wider than 30 feet—has fragrant flowers in the spring and small red fruit from summer through winter that draw in the wildlife. It also offers gorgeous foliage in the fall.
15. Serviceberry (Amelanchier)
Serviceberry, or shadbush, is a small native tree that looks great in a landscape for every season. Tolerant to most conditions, it can be grown in zones 2 through 9. This will be one of the first trees in your yard to flower in early spring, and then fruit berries in summer. In the fall, you’ll get to enjoy bright red and orange leaves.