Fall is here, and it’s time to plant that new tree you’ve been wanting in the yard. The value of small ornamental trees in the landscape can come from blooms, foliage, bark and habit. Whatever landscaping tree you select is often best planted in the fall. Temperatures have cooled and newly planted ornamental trees experience less stress than those planted in spring, which have to live through hot summer temperatures. Landscaping trees provide curb appeal for your home and, when located correctly, can add value to your home or property.
Early spring blooms, autumn color and camouflage-like bark make varieties of dogwoods popular landscaping trees. The Kousa (Cornus kousa) and native dogwood (Cornus florida) are small ornamental trees that bloom early in spring. The Cornelian cherry dogwood blooms as early as January or February in some areas, with tight yellow blooms, appearing ready for spring before it arrives.
Use dogwood trees singly, as a focal point, or in groupings or borders for a mass of blooms. Foliage of the dogwood tree turns red in autumn, again drawing attention. Multi-stemmed trunks, fruit and peeling bark make them one of the best small ornamental trees for fall planting.
This tree’s limbs become covered with clusters of tiny pink blooms in spring, followed by heart-shaped leaves and later, interesting seed pods. These features make the Eastern redbud a valuable tree for fall planting. The redbud tree grows rapidly, offering an attractive, draping canopy to shade the area in which it grows.
A staple in Southern landscapes, the saucer magnolia blooms early in spring. Buds that look like fuzzy rabbit’s feet turn into showy, saucer-shaped blooms of pinks and whites. These early spring blooms may be nipped by frost and are most prudently located in a Northern exposure to prevent premature bloom. Bark is smooth textured and light gray.
Contorted limbs and branches of landscaping trees such as contorted filbert or mulberry may be light on spring flowering but make up for it with unusual, twisted branches that stand out in winter. The corkscrew willow and Harry Lauder’s walking stick are also examples of interesting, small ornamental trees.
Deciduous trees with attractive branching habits and unusual bark add an element of interest to an often barren, winter landscape. Flowerbeds under trees planted with late winter blooms, such as crocus and hellebores, add color as the landscape waits on spring to arrive.