Planting trees is one of the easiest ways to make a positive impact on your environment. Trees help to purify the air and combat the effects of air pollution by trapping dust and pollen. The correct placement of trees around your house can also significantly reduce air conditioning costs. Planting healthy trees not only enhances the beauty of your home but also increases the property value. So if you’re exploring landscaping options, the arborists at Mr. Tree have rounded up the five best hardwood trees to plant in the yard.
What are hardwood trees?
Hardwood trees are deciduous trees that are easily identifiable, thanks to their broad and flat leaves. In contrast, softwood trees are evergreen trees with needle-like or conical leaves. These trees are also widespread across North America.
Hardwood trees shed their leaves during the autumn and winter seasons. The density of hardwood trees is higher than softwoods such as Douglas fir and pine. However, the wood’s actual hardness may vary—in fact, some hardwoods have softer wood compared to actual softwood trees. The wood harvested from hardwood trees is expensive and usually used for making furniture or decks.
Here are the best hardwood trees to plant in the yard:
Red alder is a popular hardwood tree found in the Pacific Northwest. It is also known as Oregon alder or by its scientific name, Alnus rubra. The word rubra refers to the red dye produced from the bark and the color of the wood when the tree is felled. The bark has medicinal properties, used by North American Indians for curing ailments, such as rheumatic pains, internal injuries, and diarrhea.
The tree is characterized by its dark-green serrated leaves with a pointed tip. There are fine soft hairs on the reverse side of the leaves. These trees prefer moist surroundings, and once mature, they can grow between 40 to 80 feet tall. The wood from red alder has a fine grain, and it’s mostly used for cabinetry, veneers, and even firewood.
Planting red alder can also improve the fertility of the soil, as the roots house nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Moreover, red alder is also useful in preventing soil erosion due to its thick canopy cover.
Ensure that the soil is moist and the tree receives full sunlight for better growth. Pruning a red alder tree when it is young is recommended to maintain the shape of the tree.
Northern Red Oak
Northern red oak is one of the fastest-growing oak trees you can plant in your yard. It’s also one of the most common types of oak trees that grow across the US. The tree is characterized by the bristle-tipped leaves and waxy lobes. Come fall, these leaves turn red, creating fantastic scenery for your yard. The crown of the tree is extremely dense and round. The wood has a coarse grain and uneven texture. It’s commonly used for cabinetry, furniture, firewood, and flooring.
On average, these trees are 60 to 75 feet tall at maturity. Oak trees, in general, have been considered natural air filters in urban areas. Northern red oak also tolerates air pollution well, making it the right choice for your yard. Since it has deep roots, it fares well even in the case of poor drainage or compacted soil. Any type of soil works for the northern red oak—it copes well with loamy, acidic, sandy, or even slightly alkaline soil. It requires at least six hours of direct sunlight every day for optimum growth. A bit of pruning can help to maintain its structure.
The tulip tree is one of the largest hardwood trees native to the eastern United States. Since time immemorial, colonists have used tulip trees to craft various farm essentials such as buckets and troughs. Native Americans used the bark for medicinal purposes. The gardens at Mount Vernon, home of George and Martha Washington, are lined with tulip trees planted by George Washington himself.
These trees are an excellent option for landscaping and commonly used as shade trees. Once fully mature, these trees are about 70 to 90 feet tall. The leaves are flat-topped with four lobes. The glossy green leaves change to golden yellow during fall. The tree also bears greenish-yellow flowers.
The fine-grained wood, known as poplar, is used for the construction of organs. Tulip trees need at least six hours of direct sunlight and acidic, moist, and well-drained soil for optimum growth. Once the leaves fall off the tree during fall, a round of pruning can maintain the oval shape.
If you have a huge yard, consider the stately looking American beech. These trees grow in an oval shape and have a very widespread canopy that provides ample shade. The leaves are serrated and turn golden bronze during the fall, creating a lovely hue. The bark is exceptionally smooth. The wood is commonly used for furniture, wood crafting, and flooring.
A mature tree grows to a maximum height of 50 to 70 feet. However, the tree grows less than 12 to 24 inches per year, making it one of the slowest-growing hardwood trees. The tree also yields edible beechnuts.
It needs plenty of space and full direct sunlight for at least six hours daily. It fares well with most soil types, including loamy, moist, clay, acidic, and sandy. It also needs pruning during later winter.
Nuttall oak is a popular option for landscaping that grows in a pyramidal shape. It features dark green lustrous lobed leaves that change colors during fall. It starts with yellow, passes through orange, before turning into bright red during late fall.
These trees grow to a height of 40 to 60 feet. The branches are structured nicely, making it a great pick for lawns and yards. The lower branches are horizontal and don’t droop too much. It tolerates moderate levels of drought. It also grows well in wet soil. While soil type is not extremely important, it prefers acidic soil. It also needs six hours of direct unfiltered sunlight every day. Pruning can help the tree to develop a better structure.
With so many different hardwood tree options for your backyard, it can be confusing to choose the right one. Moreover, the fear of pruning the tree can be overwhelming.
So reach out to our experts who can help—whether you’re confused about choosing the right tree or need pruning services, we are always available to guide you.