What would fall be without the autumnal change from green to brilliant shades of orange, gold, red, and purple? Colorful fall leaves are almost magical and especially nice when the prettiest trees are planted in your own yard. That’s why we created this list of the best landscape trees for fall color in our part of the country!
Our favorites are well-adapted, Northeast Ohio native trees sure to perform beautifully in our area. Any of these five beauties will add big color to your fall landscape.
Blackgum or Black Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica)
The simple leaves of this easy-to-grow, regal tree turn from rich green to brilliant scarlet red in fall. Blackgums are large landscape trees that can reach 30-60 feet and develop conical crowns. They are slow-growing and naturally inhabit both uplands and moist lowlands across Northeast Ohio.
Though shade tolerant, they develop their best appearance and fall color when grown in full sun. Their small spring flowers attract honeybees and yield great tasting “tupelo” honey.
Common Dogwood (Cornus florida)
Best known for its outstanding spring blooms, dogwoods also offer outstanding fall leaf color in shades of purple, orange, and red. The fall leaves look even more impressive alongside its clusters of bright red fruits that continue to look pretty into winter before being consumed by birds. Dogwoods reach only 20-40 feet, so they are suited to smaller yards. They exist across Ohio where they grow in both moist and dry woodlands. Landscape specimens grow and look best when planted in full sun.
Wild trees are susceptible to dogwood anthracnose, a deadly disease, which is why homeowners should choose anthracnose-resistant varieties. One of the best is ‘Appalachian Spring’, a white-flowered selection with red fall leaves and fruit.
Freeman Maple (Acer x freemanii)
This outstanding landscape tree is a hybrid of the fast-growing silver maple (Acer saccharinum) and red maple (Acer rubrum), two common Ohio native trees. These adaptable trees reach 40-60 feet and have pyramidal crowns.
For consistently outstanding leaves try the remarkably hardy Autumn Fantasy®, which develops deep burgundy leaves in autumn.
The popular Autumn Blaze® (shown in photo) is another great choice coveted for its consistent scarlet-red fall color and exceptional drought tolerance.
Common Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea)
If you want a trouble-free small tree with great fall color, then look no further. The small, multi-branched common serviceberry reaches 15 to 25 feet and exists across Ohio woodlands, so it always performs beautifully in our landscapes.
It is shade tolerant but always looks and performs best when planted in full sun. It also offers white spring flowers, edible summer fruits, and smooth gray branches, but its orange-yellow-red fall color is especially impressive.
Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea)
Native to the uplands of Northeast Ohio, this is a surprisingly fast-growing oak for the landscape that can reach 120 feet at maturity and offers exceptional red fall color. Plant it in a spacious open spot where it can reach its full potential and provide it with well-drained to dry soil. Its acorns are produced biannually and feed wildlife.
Plant the Right Tree in the Right Place
All trees produce the best fall color when planted in full sun. Just be sure to choose the right-sized trees for your landscape, plant them in good locations, and give newly planted trees good care for long-term success. Trees under stress also yield poorer fall color, so be sure to give landscape specimens additional water during periods of harsh summer drought.
If you’re not sure about where or how to plant any of these trees, or if you’d like some help in getting your new trees established, give us a call. We offer professional tree and shrub planting services to get your new landscape additions off to a great start.
You may also want to check out these helpful resources:
Any one of these trees will make your autumn landscape a little brighter. Plant more than one, and you will have one of the best fall displays on the block. When fall leaves fly, enjoy pressing the prettiest leaves for kids crafts, and consider composting your own leaves for quick, easy garden mulch and soil enrichment. Happy fall!