10 Best Trees to Plant this Arbor and Earth Day

Trees give us air to breathe, provide homes for wildlife, bear fruits and nuts—and they’re simply a pleasure to be around! With Arbor and Earth Day approaching, you can celebrate our deep connection to trees by planting a few of these incredible companions in your landscape. 

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October Glory Red Maple 
Height: 50 feet 
Conditions: Full sun, adaptable  

Easy to maintain and adaptable to a variety of moisture and soils, this Red Maple gives clusters of red flowers in the spring and vivid scarlet foliage in the autumn. A native to Illinois, it grows all across the continent in deciduous woodlands and will make a beautiful addition to your yard.

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Eastern Redbud 
Height: 30 feet
Conditions: Full or partial sun, acidic, alkaline or heavy clay soils 

Another native tree often found growing in the understory of forests, Eastern Redbud produces dazzling magenta blossoms that will feed the hungry butterflies and bees waking up from winter. It’s the perfect ornamental tree for a smaller location where you desire incredible spring color.  

White Oak 
Height: 60 feet
Conditions: Full sun, adaptable, and tolerates wet soils  

Valued for its wood, these sturdy trees—though slow-growing—will reward your patience with their beautiful form. Their acorns feed the local wildlife, and their bark develops deep ridges as they age. Like many forest-dwelling trees, they tolerate shade when young but need full sun as they mature. With a lifespan of up to 300 years, the White Oak will be a companion to many generations who live in your property.

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Tulip Tree
Height: 90 feet
Conditions: Full sun and moist, rich soils

This native tree in the magnolia family unveils yellow tulip-shaped blossoms in the spring. The intricate bark adds winter interest to your yard as the tree matures. It grows relatively fast—in tree terms—and will fill a large yard with its shady canopy.  

best-trees-to-plant-arbor-earth-day-japanese-lilac

Japanese Lilac 
Height: 25 feet 
Conditions: Full sun, well-drained soil 

A delight for the senses in early summer, this tree unfurls fragrant, velvet white flowers between its deep green leaves. It will fill your yard with color after the Tulip Tree and Eastern Redbud blooms are spent. If you need to fill a smaller space, this lilac is a lovely choice. Its slender, smooth branches are easy to prune into your desired shape.  

Princeton Elm
Height: 70 feet
Conditions: Full sun, adaptable to different soil types

This classic tree does not yield any fruit, blossoms, or nuts, but will inspire you with its grand, overarching canopy. Extremely hardy and adaptable, it will bring cool shade to your landscape. The Princeton Elm’s rough, dark bark will lend its endearing character through all the seasons.

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Serviceberry 
Height: 25 feet
Conditions: Full or part sun, adaptable to different soil types 

Another magnificent spring bloomer, the Serviceberry yields delicious berries for an early harvest beginning in June. A relative of the blueberry, the plump purple-blue fruit has a sweet, herbal flavor that will remind you of the native forests and meadows of Illinois where they grow. You’ll likely want to prune this one to a smaller size to keep these jewels of summer within arms reach.

River Birch
Height: 60 feet
Conditions: Full or part sun, moist to dry soils 

Subtler than the Oak and Elm, but no less appealing, the main appeal of birch is its fine, rounded leaves and textured, peeling bark. The bronze color of the river birch, in particular, ranks it among our favorite varieties of this species. Although it prefers moist soils, like the riverbanks that it calls home, it can adapt to heat and drought once established.  

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Cleveland Pear
Height: 40 feet
Conditions: Full sun, adaptable to different soil types 

The yellow fruit of this tree will intrigue you throughout the late summer as they mature. They are inedible and require some cleanup, but the Cleveland Pear makes up for it with its impeccable beauty. The white clusters of mid-spring flowers will dazzle your senses. An ornamental pear is an excellent choice for anyone in love with bountiful blossoms, smooth bark, fruit, and purple fall foliage.  

best-trees-to-plant-arbor-earth-day-autumn-gold

Autumn Gold Ginkgo
Height: 50 feet
Conditions: Full sun, moist soils

Rivaling the dramatic October flush of the Red Maple, this tree’s unique leaves turn brilliant yellow in the fall and will carpet your landscape with gold. Long cultivated in China for its medicinal properties, this exquisite tree likes our climate just as well and can reportedly live upwards of 1,000 years. Although it doesn’t have the perfect arched canopy of the Elm, it will still provide plenty of wonderful shade and remain a lifelong friend.

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Planting any tree is a longterm investment, and these are just a few of your many choices available at our nursery locations. For more advice on selecting and planting trees, please don’t hesitate to contact our garden centers!