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Posted: July 27, 2022

Landscaping may just be one item on your to-do list, but no commercial property should underestimate the power of first impressions and the positive influence they can have on so many business-influencing factors, including attracting potential clients and luring in additional business partners and investors.

And what better place to offer a first impression than with your commercial landscaping.

A welcoming entryway and landscape can bring more business and people to your site, encourage them to spend more time on the property i, better direct traffic flow, and highlight your business architecture or accentuate other positive attributes.

So, naturally, you want to choose the best commercial plants and trees for the job. This could not only bolster these potential benefits, but save you time and energy in the process – a win-win!

Let’s look at some important things you should consider when choosing plants, as well as some of the best trees and shrubs you can opt for that work to put your best face forward.

Maximize Your Landscaping Investment With Trees & Shrubs That Thrive In Your Area

When choosing commercial plants and trees, picking the best ones for your site is an essential step in long-term aesthetics, management, and overall cost savings.

Your goal should be to follow the old adage, “right plant, right place.” But you might be asking yourself, “What exactly does that mean?” 

When you follow this principle, you’re considering your unique landscape attributes when choosing your plants. Covered in the video below, some environmental factors and plant characteristics to consider include average temperature highs and lows, average rainfall, soil conditions, and your region’s plant hardiness zone

By matching plants with these characteristics to your location, you not only increase curb appeal, but also create longer-lasting commercial landscaping that can actually save you money by reducing your overall maintenance needs and input requirements, such as irrigation. By choosing native trees and shrubs that are more tolerant to your regional weather conditions and variations, you can also create a more sustainable landscape.

Why You Should Work with a Professional

When planting trees for investment in your commercial landscape, getting this first step done right is an essential part of the long-term health and vitality of your plants.

To give your trees and shrubs the best start, hiring a qualified professional can not only ensure they are planted correctly, but it can also provide you with hands-on guidance on which plants would work best for your site and where on your property they’d be the healthiest and offer the most benefits.

Once your trees and shrubs are installed, receiving regular maintenance services from a professional can help protect your investments so they live longer.

What Are the Best Trees & Shrubs to Plant in My Region?

Best Trees and Shrubs in the Southeast

In the Southeast (Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland or Delaware) where it’s warm and humid, your commercial landscape goes through a longer growing season with abundant rainfall.

Your winters are mild and your soils will vary from clay-based variations in inland locations to sandier soils in coastal areas. You’ll want to choose trees and shrubs that can handle these extremes.

Best Trees in the Southeast

These trees are some of the top performers in the Southeast U.S.

Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum)

  • USDA hardiness zone: 4 to 10
  • Soil preference: Wet soils that are saturated
  • Sunlight tolerance: Performs best in full sunlight
  • Growth habit: Reaches heights of 60 to 80 feet

Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)

  • USDA hardiness zone: 6 to 10
  • Soil preference: Moist soils and has low drought tolerance
  • Sunlight tolerance: Performs best in full sunlight
  • Growth habit: Reaches heights of 50 to 90 feet and has a non-invasive root structure

Live Oak (Quercus virginiana)

  • USDA hardiness zone: 8 to 10
  • Soil preference: Medium to wet soils
  • Sunlight tolerance: Performs best in full sunlight
  • Growth habit: Reaches heights of 40 to 80 feet with a 60- to 100-foot spread and a wide-reaching root system


Best Shrubs in the Southeast

Try some of these shrubs for Southeast U.S. states.

Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)

  • USDA hardiness zone: 7 to 10
  • Soil preference: Moist but well-drained soils
  • Sunlight tolerance: Performs best in full sun to partial shade
  • Growth habit: Upright growth habit and equal spread of between 4 and 6 feet

Loropetalum (Loropetalum chinense)

  • USDA hardiness zone: 7 to 9
  • Soil preference: Well-drained, non-alkaline soil with plenty of moisture
  • Sunlight tolerance: Performs best in full sun to partial shade
  • Growth habit: Can grow 3 to 10 feet depending on the variety; makes a great hedge

Azalea Formosa (Azalea indica ‘formosa’)

  • USDA hardiness zone: 7 to 9
  • Soil preference: Well-drained, rich soil
  • Sunlight tolerance: Performs best in morning sun and afternoon shade
  • Growth habit: Can grow 7 to 10 feet tall and wide

Best Trees and Shrubs in the Southwest

When it comes to Southwest U.S. states, including Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Utah, Nevada, and Southern California, you’re facing a warm, dry climate with mild winters and little precipitation.

Your commercial landscaping trees and shrubs have to be happy in sandy soils, as well as those including stone, and they must be drought-tolerant.

Best Trees in the Southwest

Try these recommended trees for your toughest Southwest commercial sites.

American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

  • USDA hardiness zone: 4 to 9
  • Soil preference: Well-drained soils that don’t dry out
  • Sunlight tolerance: Performs best in full sunlight
  • Growth habit: Open growth habit, reaching 80 feet tall with a 60-foot spread; roots can be invasive so plant in open spaces

Live Oak (Quercus virginiana)

  • USDA hardiness zone: 8 to 10
  • Soil preference: Medium to wet soils
  • Sunlight tolerance: Performs best in full sunlight
  • Growth habit: Reaches heights of 40 to 80 feet with a 60- to 100-foot spread and a wide-reaching root system

Mexican White Oak (Quercus polymorph)

  • USDA hardiness zone: 7 to 10
  • Soil preference: Many soil conditions work for this tree, including riverbanks, rocky, and desert-like environments
  • Sunlight tolerance: Performs best in full sunlight
  • Growth habit: Reaches heights of 80 feet with a 60-foot spread; plant in open locations due to root spread

Best Shrubs in the Southwest

Try some of these shrubs for Southeast U.S. states.

Texas Ranger (Leucophyllum frutescens)

  • USDA hardiness zone: Zone 8
  • Soil preference: Prefers drought condi but well-drained soils
  • Sunlight tolerance: Performs best in full sun
  • Growth habit: Grows anywhere from 5 to 8 feet tall with a 3- to 5-foot spread

Winter Blaze (Eremphila glabra)

  • USDA hardiness zone: 9 to 11
  • Soil preference: Highly drought tolerant
  • Sunlight tolerance: Performs best in full sun
  • Growth habit: This fast grower can reach 4 feet tall and wide and attracts hummingbirds

Orange Shrimp Plant (Justicia fulvicoma)

  • USDA hardiness zone: 8 to 11
  • Soil preference: Well-drained soil
  • Sunlight tolerance: Performs best in full sun or partial shade
  • Growth habit: Can reach 2 to 3 feet in size

Best Trees and Shrubs in the West

In the western U.S. states of Colorado, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Northern California, climate conditions can vary.

The northernmost areas will experience harsh winters and brief summers, while the southernmost regions can be comparable to the southwestern U.S. states.

Soils will also vary from richer, more fertile ground in the north to desert-like conditions in the south.

Pay particular attention to these unique differences when choosing trees and shrubs for commercial landscaping.

Best Trees in the West

Plant one of these top-performing trees in western commercial property landscapes.

Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo)

  • USDA hardiness zone: 7 to 10
  • Soil preference: Well-drained soil
  • Sunlight tolerance: Performs best in full sunlight
  • Growth habit: Usually grows no more than 15 feet high with a multi-stemmed form

Deodar Cedar (Cedrus deodara)

  • USDA hardiness zone: 7 to 9
  • Soil preference: Moist, well-drained soil; drought tolerance once established
  • Sunlight tolerance: Performs best in full sunlight
  • Growth habit: Reaches heights of 40 to 70 feet with attractive bluish-green needles

London Planetree (Platanus x acerfolia)

  • USDA hardiness zone: 5 to 9
  • Soil preference: Grows well in a variety of conditions
  • Sunlight tolerance: Grows well in a variety of conditions
  • Growth habit: Not suitable for small spades as it grow to 100 feet in height with an 80-foot width; great shade tree

Best Shrubs in the West

Try some of these shrubs for western U.S. states.

David Viburnum (Viburnum davidii)

  • USDA hardiness zone: 7 to 9
  • Soil preference: Moist but well-drained soils
  • Sunlight tolerance: Performs best in full sun to partial shade but beware of leaf scorch on south-facing slopes in direct sun
  • Growth habit: Broadleaf evergreen shrub with glossy green leaves and metallic blue berries that typically grows in a mound 2 to 3 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide

Japanese Euonymus (Euonymus japonicus)

  • USDA hardiness zone: 6 to 9
  • Soil preference: Tolerates many types of soil conditions
  • Sunlight tolerance: Performs best in full sun to partial shade
  • Growth habit: Grows to 6 feet tall

Chinese Podocarps (Podocarpus macrophyllus)

  • USDA hardiness zone: 7 to 11
  • Soil preference: Adapts to most soils
  • Sunlight tolerance: Performs best in morning sun and afternoon shade
  • Growth habit: Slow-growing shrub that tolerates pruning and shaping

Best Trees and Shrubs in the Midwest

If you have a commercial property in the Midwest, which includes Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska, you face cold winters and warm, humid summers.

You want to choose trees and shrubs that can handle a good amount of precipitation and a variety of soil types, based on various area’s glacial deposits.

Best Trees in the Midwest

These are a few suggestions for trees that perform well in the Midwest.

European Beech (Fagus Sylvatica)

  • USDA hardiness zone: 5 to 6
  • Soil preference: Tolerates a variety of soils with moderate drought tolerance
  • Sunlight tolerance: Performs best in full sunlight
  • Growth habit: Can reach a height of 30 feet; withstands pruning

Japanese Lilac (Syringa Reticulata)

  • USDA hardiness zone: 5 to 6
  • Soil preference: Tolerates a variety of soil conditions
  • Sunlight tolerance: Performs best in partial shade
  • Growth habit: Grows to a height of 15 to 20 feet

Black Tupelo (Nyssa Sylvatica)

  • USDA hardiness zone: 5 to 6
  • Soil preference: Prefers acidic, well-drained soils
  • Sunlight tolerance: Likes a mix of full sun and partial shade
  • Growth habit: Reaches heights of 30 to 50 feet, providing dark green leaves in summer and a mix of yellow, orange, and red fall colors

Best Shrubs in the Midwest

These shrubs are proven performers in the Midwest.

Common Boxwood (Buxus)

  • USDA hardiness zone: 5 to 6
  • Soil preference: Prefers acidic, well-drained soils
  • Sunlight tolerance: Likes a mix of full sun and partial shade
  • Growth habit: Plant individually or in a hedge; can be shaped

Summersweet (Clethra)

  • USDA hardiness zone: 5 to 6
  • Soil preference: Prefers acidic, well-drained soils
  • Sunlight tolerance: Likes a mix of full sun and partial shade
  • Growth habit: Grows to 3 to 8 feet with bright green leaves and fragrant, colorful flowers that attract pollinators

American Witch Hazel (Hamamelis)

  • USDA hardiness zone: 5 to 6
  • Soil preference: Prefers acidic, well-drained soils
  • Sunlight tolerance: Likes a mix of full sun and partial shade
  • Growth habit: Grows to 15 to 20 feet

Best Trees and Shrubs in the Northeast

In the Northeastern states, including Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, your commercial properties must survive cold winters and warm, humid summers.

Depending on the location, you also receive a good amount of precipitation and can grow trees and shrubs in a variety of soil types.

Best Trees in the Northeast

Try these options for trees that add value to Northeast commercial properties.

White Fir (Abies Concolor)

  • USDA hardiness zone: 5 to 6
  • Soil preference: Prefers acidic, well-drained soils; likes moisture but has moderate drought tolerance
  • Sunlight tolerance: Likes a mix of full sun and partial shade
  • Growth habit: This slow-growing evergreen can reach 30 to 50 feet with bluish-green needles

Canadian Hemlock (Tsuga Canadensis)

  • USDA hardiness zone: 5 to 6
  • Soil preference: Prefers lighter soils; low drought tolerance
  • Sunlight tolerance: Requires 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily
  • Growth habit: Grows to a height of 40 to 70 feet

Dogwood (Cornus Mas)

  • USDA hardiness zone: 5 to 6
  • Soil preference: Prefers well-drained soils; drought tolerant
  • Sunlight tolerance: Likes a mix of full sun and partial shade
  • Growth habit: Reaches heights of 15 to 20 feet with glossy, green leaves in summer and yellow to burgundy fall colors

Best Shrubs in the Northeast

These shrubs are known to perform well in the Northeast.

Winterberry Holly (Ilex Verticillata)

  • USDA hardiness zone: 5 to 6
  • Soil preference: Tolerates many soil types
  • Sunlight tolerance: Likes a mix of full sun and partial shade
  • Growth habit: Grows to a height of 18 to 24 feet; can be grown as a small shrub or tree

Sweetspire (Itea)

  • USDA hardiness zone: 5 to 6
  • Soil preference: Prefers slightly acidic soils
  • Sunlight tolerance: Flowers best with 4 hours of direct sunlight daily
  • Growth habit: Grows to 3 to 5 feet with small, fragrant flowers that attract pollinators

Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus Syriacus)

  • USDA hardiness zone: 5 to 6
  • Soil preference: Prefers moist, well-drained soils; moderate drought tolerance
  • Sunlight tolerance: Likes a mix of full sun and partial shade
  • Growth habit: Hardy and easy to grow; can reach 8 to 12 feet in height with a 6- to 10-foot spread

Contact Your Local Davey Office To Learn Which Trees & Shrubs Are Right For Your Commercial Landscape.

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