Every year thousands travel to experience the golden fall foliage of the New England countryside. Now, enjoy the painted leaf landscape in your own yard by planting consistently vibrant trees. The trees below deliver the most spectacular shades of scarlet, fiery orange or rich yellow, are easy to care for and maintain a unique look each season.
Here are the top 10 trees to plant for show-stopping fall color. Plus, here are some insider tips on planting trees from the certified arborists at The Davey Tree Expert Company.
1. Maple is the quintessential tree for fall color. Maple trees demand attention with bright apricot leaves that contrast with burnt orange. Maples come in a variety of sizes, so they work in any landscape.
2. Sweetgum is a fast-growing tree with glorious, red leaves that pop in autumn. Sweetgum trees have glossy, star-shaped leaves that stay longer on the tree—allowing you to bask in the dynamic colors into late fall.
3. Sweet Birch turns brassy yellow in the fall. Sweet birch trees offer copious amounts of shade in the summer, fend off the bronze birch borer better than any other birch, and have a sugary sap that can be used to brew homemade birch soda.
4. Katsura welcomes autumn with a spicy-sweet smell and tangerine color. The katsura tree grows in a pyramid like shape with an extraordinarily straight trunk and heart-shaped leaves.
5. Ginkgo trees showcase a lustrous yellow on their fan-shaped leaves every fall. With the ability to grow up to 80 feet tall, ginkgos fiercely resist insects, disease and pollution.
6. Smokebush transforms into a crimson red after a summer sprinkled with yellow flowers. Smokebush is a shrub that can be pruned into a small tree with the help of a certified arborist.
7. Witch hazel is a small tree with big yellow color. Witch hazel offers the full package, complete with fragrance, flowers, and glowing color in every season.
8. Red-Twig dogwood features ruby red leaves and then unveils red stems. This dogwood blossoms with clusters of white flowers that mature into plum-colored fruit to attract birds in spring.
9. Sassafras trees repel mosquitoes and dazzle with pumpkin-colored leaves of various shapes. Sassafras smells heavily of licorice, which makes it a delightful treat for wildlife.
10. Redbud has goldenrod leaves in the fall and delicate pink flowers in the spring. The redbud tree is a small tree with a rounded crown and a forked, light-colored trunk.
In many parts of the country, planting trees and shrubs in early fall gives plants a head start at establishing roots in the season's cool, moist soil—and allows you to revel in their autumn hues.
- Dig a hole (twice the diameter and to a depth of two inches less than the full height of the root ball).
- Position the shrub in the hole (make sure the top of the root ball remains at, not below, ground level).
- Fill in with soil and water to settle soil.
- Add more soil to top of root ball (don't pack soil down with foot).
- Cover the planting hole with one to two inches of shredded hardwood or leaf mulch. But don’t over mulch the tree or “volcano” mulch. Keep the mulch two to three inches away from the trunk or the trunk will rot.
Always talk to a certified arborist. Contact your local Davey professional with any tree service concerns as you plant your landscape this fall.