Understanding Types of Trees

Caring for the trees in your yard -- or selecting trees for your landscape -- begins with understanding different tree types. Some trees offer shade in the summer and let sunlight in during the winter; other trees have brilliant fall color; and many tree types provide food and shelter that beckon birds to your yard. The Grounds Guys® can give you some pointers to help you handpick trees for your yard based on these -- and many other -- merits.

Broadly, trees are grouped into two primary categories: deciduous and coniferous.

Deciduous Trees

  • Also called hardwoods, these tree types typically shed their leaves in autumn
  • Deciduous trees have different-shaped leaves, depending on tree species; for example, star, heart and oval shapes
  • Examples: oak (Quercus spp.), elm (Ulmus spp.), maple (Acer spp.), willow (Salix spp.)

Coniferous Trees

  • Most of these are evergreens, which means you'll have greenery year-round on these tree types
  • Coniferous trees have leaves that are needle-shaped
  • Examples: pine (Pinus spp.), fir (Abies spp.), spruce (Picea spp.), cedar (Juniperus spp.)

So why is it important to understand these classifications of trees?

When planning your landscape design, you'll want to consider what it looks like during all seasons of the year. Because trees provide the framework that forms the backbone of your yard, you may want to consider a mixed planting that includes some deciduous trees as well as coniferous species. Beyond aesthetics, strategically placed trees can actually help lower your heating and cooling costs.

Benefits of deciduous trees:

  • The same deciduous tree shades your house in the summer and lets sunlight filter through its bare branches to help warm your home in winter after it drops its leaves.
  • Many deciduous trees, such as maples (Acer spp.), offer a riot of color in autumn when their leaves change colors.
  • Some deciduous trees, such as birches (Betula spp.) and crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia spp.), have exfoliating bark that provides a beautiful winter focal point.
  • Other deciduous tree types can help feed your family. Plant fruit and nut trees for their bountiful harvests as well as their shade appeal.
  • Short on space? Unleash your creativity by pruning a fruit tree against a flat surface -- a technique called espaliering.

Benefits of coniferous trees:

  • Evergreen trees not only shade your home in the summer, but they also provide a wind screen to block harsh winter breezes.
  • Coniferous tree types provide a year-round privacy fence to block unwanted views. Simply space small trees according to the species recommendation so they'll form a green screen as they mature.
  • Birds seek refuge in evergreen trees, particularly during the winter.

Tree Tips:

  • Before planting any tree type, consider its mature height. Look overhead -- are there power lines that an older tree may obstruct?
  • Practice proper tree pruning techniques to keep your trees in optimal health.
  • Plant trees far enough from your patio, sidewalk and driveway so their root systems don't disrupt the hardscapes.

Call on The Grounds Guys with any questions you have about selecting trees for your landscape and caring for them. We can help you put together a well-balanced landscape that incorporates your preferences with the scale and look of your yard. And remember...all trees don't do well in all areas of the U.S. We'll help you choose suitable tree species that will not only live in your yard but will thrive there.

Categories: Trees

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