Trees. Prominent, long-lived, and valuable. They set the look for the landscape helping to determine both the style and function of the outside space. Most yards will have "heritage" trees such as oaks, maples, and birches. These can be relied upon to provide the shade in summer we crave. Plus, they have the scale necessary to balance a building's soaring planes.
But, there’s another type of tree that’s equally important–the WOW tree. They have remarkable foliage or flowers or fruit or bark (sometimes all the above). Even when not doing their thing, always looks fantastic. A great landscape will have both types of trees.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started on adding some leafy eye-candy to your space. (Check out this post for other plants that might work in your zone. Not sure of your zone? Map here.)
You've got the tree trifecta here. The rosy-red spring flowers and distinctive bronze-green summer foliage. Combined with brilliant fall fruits (for both you and migrating birds), and colorful autumn foliage. Fruits often hold onto branches into winter. A lovely choice for the lawn or edible garden centerpiece. Reaches 25 ft. tall and 15 ft. wide. Zone: 4 – 8
A very “a-peeling” specimen tree (see what I did there!) that’s used as a focal point in the winter landscape due to its exfoliating bark. Slow growing and difficult to propagate, it’s a bit of a rarity. Check out the fall foliage! Reaches up to 25 ft. tall and wide. Zone: 5 – 8
Bracken’s Brown Beauty Magnolia
Yes, it’s a large tree. If you have the space, you'll be rewarded with huge, fragrant flowers and lustrous, leathery foliage. All on a dense tree that's an ideal tall screen or landscape specimen. Reaches up to 30 ft. tall and wide. Zone: 5 – 9
Good chance the neighbors don’t have this weeping willow that kicks off spring covered in soft, fuzzy buds. Architectural shape brings interest to the winter garden, too. Small size makes for a charming focal point. Reaches up to 8 ft. tall and 6 ft. wide. Zone: 4 – 8
Tricolor European Beech
Majestic and shapely with striking purple/pink/white foliage. One makes a statement, but if you have the space, plant a few in a grove. The impact of the pink foliage is a knockout. Reaches up to 35 ft. tall and 25 ft. wide. Zone: 4 – 7