The 11 Best Trees to Plant in Tennessee
Here in the Southeast, we love our trees—they clean the air and make a statement in your yard, providing shade from the intense heat of summer, while others provide some color in the dreary winter months. Since the USDA Plant Hardiness Map puts Tennessee in zones 5b through 8a, there are a variety of trees that grow well throughout the state.
The Best Tennesse Shade Trees include:
The Best Tennesse Evergreen Trees include:
The Best Shade Trees to Plant in TN
If you have limited space in your yard and are looking for the right tree for the job, a shade tree may be your best option. An excellent shade tree can make your outdoor space feel 10-15 degrees cooler. That’s the difference between tolerable and intolerable heat. If you are looking for the best type of shade trees in our area, then take a look at this list.
The bald cypress makes a beautiful statement to any yard. Reaching 50 to 70 feet in height with a roughly 30-foot spread, it grows in a natural conical shape with horizontal branches. Because the bald cypress is a medium grower (13–24″ per year), make sure you give it plenty of space to spread out.
Weeping willows are some of the most majestic trees you will ever see. The weeping willow grows to a height of 30-40′ and a spread of around 35′-40’. Its long drooping branches create an umbrella of shade at all times of the day. This is a great tree to plant if you have a larger yard. Be sure not to plant this tree too close to your home, pool, septic tank, or other buildings, as its roots can cause a lot of damage. Weeping willows grow naturally in wetlands and swamps, so they go great next to a pond if you want to soak up that pool of standing water that never seems to go away.
This monster of a tree can grow up to 100 feet tall when fully mature. In the spring it blooms in red flowers and produces fruit in summer and fall which attracts an abundant amount of wildlife. The sycamore is a fast-growing tree, growing up to 2 feet a year! Because of its height and high growth rate, the sycamore should be planted away from other trees as it can grow taller than most trees and steal all the sunlight.
Red Maples have smaller leaves than most maples, but they are thick and full trees that can compete with the best when it comes to shade coverage. Reaching 65 feet when fully grown, the red maple makes a great addition to any yard and provides year-round beauty. In the fall, they put on a spectacular show of deep and bright reds, which is how it gets its name.
The most popular member of the maple family is the sugar maple. Known for producing delicious maple syrup, sugar maples are also one of the best and easiest to care for shade trees you can get. Sugar maples can reach 80 feet or more in height, and provide up to 60 feet of shade, making them a great choice for your deck or patio area. In the fall, they will take your breath away with brilliant yellow, red, and orange hues.
The Best Evergreen Trees to Plant in TN
Fall weather is quickly approaching, and soon the deciduous trees will shed their leaves for the year. All those bare plants can leave you hankering for some greenery. Many homeowners like adding evergreen trees and shrubs to their yards so they can scratch that itch all year round. If you’re thinking of adopting an evergreen plant for your yard, here are a few that do well here in Tennessee.
Native to the Himalayas, this tree’s name comes from the Sanskrit word meaning “timber of the gods.” It’s perfectly suited for the hardiness zones found here in Tennessee, and you should expect it to reach heights of 40-70 feet and 20-40 feet of spread once it reaches maturity. Deodar cedars grow decently fast at about 13-24 inches per year. You should make sure to put this tree in a place where it will get full sun all day—six hours at minimum. When it comes to soil, Deodar cedars can make do with several conditions, including acidic, loamy, moist, sandy, well-drained, and clay soils. It has some tolerance to drought, but if the weather becomes drier in the summer, you should help it out and give it some extra water. If you like birds, you’re in luck. Deodars are excellent nesting trees for birds, particularly woodpeckers. They also serve as good windscreens and will develop graceful branches as they grow. Their color is absolutely gorgeous and can be bluish-green or even silvery. Aside from the beautiful boughs, cedars have the bonus of being a natural pest deterrent, thanks to the fragrance they produce.
As you might have guessed from the name, Arizona Cypress is native to the southwestern states of the US. It reaches between 40-50 feet in height and 25-30 feet wide at maturity. Like the Deodar cedar, it grows at a medium pace of 13-24 inches per year. It needs 6 hours of unfiltered sun per day and enjoys acidic, alkaline, loamy, sandy, or well-drained soils. It can tolerate some dry spells but prefers to have moist, but not soggy, earth. The bark of this tree is a lovely dark red-brown and works well for both windbreaks and erosion control if that’s something your yard struggles with. The needles of this particular species are known for being soft and aromatic.
Some common cultivars for this favorite juniper include Blue Pacific, Emerald Sea, Silver Mist, and Sunsplash. Unlike the other evergreens in this article, shore junipers only grow about 1 foot high, but what they lack in height, they make up for in spread—about 6-8 feet of it. As such, many homeowners use this as a ground cover. Shore juniper will be alright in partial shade, but try to give it full sun if you can. It’s also fairly tolerant of air pollution and drought, good for urban or suburban homes. If your yard has slopes, this is an excellent plant to help with erosion control, retaining walls, and rock gardens. Shore junipers are one of the lowest maintenance evergreens. Once established, they really only need pruning around the edges once a year. While it prefers dry soils, consider surrounding the base with mulch to help maintain a balanced moisture level. They are less likely to damage over the winter, but keep an eye on them if we experience a stormy spring.
If you’re looking to get a tall tree quickly, consider the Norway spruce. It is the fastest-growing spruce and will grow between 13-24+ inches a year. Like most evergreens, it likes lots of direct sunlight and does well in acidic, loamy, moist, sandy, well-drained, or clay soils. It has some drought tolerance. It reaches medium to tall heights, depending on how you trim it. 40-60 feet is the average height, and 25-30 is the average spread. As you probably surmised, Norway spruces originated in Europe, but interestingly, not Norway. It actually originated from Eurasia and the Black Forest region of Germany. It wasn’t found in Norway until 500 B.C.E. Songbirds love this tree, so if you’re looking for some fairy tale charm to add to your yard, you might want to consider a Norway spruce.
Likely the tallest of the evergreens we're recommending, eastern white pines reach heights of 50-80 feet and can be a whopping 40 feet in spread upon reaching maturity. It likes either full sun or partial shade and acidic, moist, well-drained, or dry soils. Like all the evergreens we’ve suggested, it has some drought tolerance, but don’t let it go too long without a good watering. Eastern white pines are known for their long and slender needles that can reach up to 5″ in length. These trees are sensitive to soil compaction, so make sure to have your yard aerated at least once a year. They naturally grow in a pyramidal shape and are beloved by many birds and other critters. The bark is susceptible to damage by rabbits and mice, who may use it as a food source.
This lovely little shrub is perfectly suited for Tennessee’s climate and produces dense, oval-shaped leaves that are evergreen all year round. Many people like to trim these delightful shrubs into round balls, perfectly square walls, cones, or even spirals. If you’re not sure how to get started pruning, we can help! They’re suitable for both in-ground planting and growing in containers if space is limited in your yard. You can have them as stand-alone plants for a bit of decoration or grown together to form a living fence.
Littleleaf boxwoods prefer moist, cool, well-drained soil. The roots tend to be shallow, so you should mulch around the base to make sure that it retains enough moisture. Once it establishes in your garden, boxwood has a decent drought tolerance. It will need full sun and prunes well, which is why it’s so easy to shape it in whimsical ways. It’s also resistant to rabbit and deer damage. In spring, you’ll enjoy small white flowers that produce a brief but pleasant fragrance.
Keep Your Tennessee Trees Healthy With Services From 4 EverGreen
Whichever type of tree or shrub you decide to welcome to your garden, the experts at 4-EverGreen Lawn Care in Jackson will make sure you enjoy it for many years to come. We are a full-service lawn care and landscaping company serving western Tennessee. Our tree and shrub care program is designed to deliver all the things your ornamental plants need to succeed, from deep-root fertilization and dormant oil applications to pest control measures and more. Give us a call or request a free quote. We’re happy to answer your questions, address your concerns, and schedule an appointment when you’re ready!