Common Trees for the Autumn Landscape

In many areas of the country, autumn often ushers in a bleak landscape.

| Summer 2018

  • fall-trees
    A weathered barn sits behind a beautiful maple tree in the country.
    Photo by GettyImages/Ron_Thomas
  • ginkgo-tree
    The ginkgo tree features fan-shaped golden leaves in fall.
    Photo by Getty Images/BIHAIBO
  • honey-locust
    The native honey locust bears white flower racemes in spring, which turn into woody brown seedpods in fall. The pods, along with the tree's golden yellow leaves, make it an autumn standout.
    Photo by Getty Images/Whiteway
  • sassafras-tree
    Beautiful leaves on a sassafras tree.
    Photo by Getty Images/SplashofPhotography
  • sweetgum-tree
    The sweetgum tree features orange and yellow leaves in autumn.
    Photo by Getty Images/HappyTam27
  • tupelo-tree
    The beautiful leaves of the Tupelo tree make a great contrast to the blue sky in fall.
    Photo by Getty Images/gardendata

  • fall-trees
  • ginkgo-tree
  • honey-locust
  • sassafras-tree
  • sweetgum-tree
  • tupelo-tree

In areas of the country that experience seasonal changes, the landscape often turns bleak as autumn sets in. Frost blackens the vegetable garden and many ornamentals. The few flowers that tolerate cold weather, such as chrysanthemums and pansies, tend to be overused, and don’t always fit into the grand landscaping scheme.

Not to worry, though. Following are some common trees that provide visual interest in autumn, and they’re readily available through online nurseries, garden centers, and “big box” home improvement stores. They grow well from Zones 4 through 8, making them ideal choices for most home-owners in the United States.

Labor Day doesn’t have to signal the end of a beautiful landscape. By adding one or more of these trees, you can enjoy color in the yard and garden through Thanksgiving – and possibly longer.

American Sweetgum

The American sweetgum grows exceptionally tall – up to 75 feet – with a canopy that spreads nearly 50 feet wide. In autumn, the star-shaped leaves turn a brilliant copper-orange, and the tree holds its leaves nearly into winter, so the showy display lasts for weeks. This is not a tree for the small backyard, but it does make an excellent specimen tree that will accent a large landscaped area.



Sweetgums can be a little bit of a nuisance, as the non-hybridized type bears spine-covered fruit known as gumballs. These can make a mess if they fall and hit a parked car or patio furniture. There are a few hybrids on the market that bear few to no gumballs, though, or you can spray ethephron – one such product featuring it is FLOREL Brand Growth Regulator, available on Amazon – in the spring, when the tree is in full bloom, to prevent the formation of gumballs.

Black Gum (or Tupelo)

The black gum, or tupelo, is a slow-growing hardwood that’s partial to the acidic, moist soils found throughout the valleys in the Carolinas, Florida, and Mississippi.






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