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The Best Trees to Plant in Georgia

The Best Trees to Plant in Georgia

There are various choices when talking about planting trees in Georgia. From huge pine plantations and apple orchards to home landscapes and city parks, a tree can be found for every purpose and place.

Concentrating on trees for residential areas, choices range from majestic oaks and hickories to ornamental cherries and pink dogwoods.


The Best Trees to Plant in Georgia

The best trees to plant in Georgia are Oak trees, Maples, Walnuts, and Cedars. Oaks take time to reach great heights but make wonderful shade trees. Maples bring brilliant colors to the fall landscape. Walnuts provide food for future generations. Cedars make great year-round accent trees and are perfect for Christmas lights. 


Trees are a Must in every Home Landscape

Trees provide food, shade, and a safe space for wildlife. No landscape’s complete without having at least one tree in it.

Whether planting a tree for children to enjoy or for an apple harvest, many species of trees do well in Georgia. Old standbys like oaks and maples create deep shade and live for centuries.

Ornamental trees like weeping cherries and dogwoods provide interest and are attractive focal points. White pines grow quickly and their needles make attractive mulch.

Fruit trees bring joy and food to the homeowner.


Trees to Plant in Areas where Space is Limited

Dwarf apples, peaches, and plums are perfect for the home gardener and don’t take up much space. 

Dogwood and other ornamental trees work best in crowded neighborhoods where houses are close together.

Other small trees to consider for growing in Georgia include crabapple, Japanese maple, and Crepe Myrtle. These trees provide bursts of color to a small yard or garden.


Different Trees for Different Regions

Georgia is a large state with six different geographic areas, including the Appalachian Plateau, the Ridge and Valley, the Blue Ridge, the Piedmont, the Upper Coastal Plain, and the Lower Coastal Plain.

Within these six areas, according to the United States Forest Service, it is estimated that there are over 15 billion trees in Georgia, not including saplings and seedlings!

The favorite large trees suitable for most of Georgia include white pine, Virginia pine, hemlock, red oak, white oak, black gum, sweet gum, poplar, hickory, black walnut, maple, magnolia, buckeye, and sycamore.

Medium-sized trees include juniper, sourwood, wild cherry, persimmon, tulip tree, birch, yellow locust, willow, holly, and beech. If a small tree is needed, then choose white dogwood, alder, or sassafras.

Favorite trees for the southern parts of Georgia include most of the above plus pecan, live oak, loblolly, cypress, and palmetto palm.


Trees for Different Growing Zones in Georgia

There are five growing zones in Georgia, including 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, and 8b.

Trees that can survive a sustained temperature of -5 degrees Fahrenheit (-20.5 Celsius) will thrive in all parts of the state, but less cold-tolerant trees do better in the southern parts of Georgia where temperatures rarely dip below 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-6.6 Celsius).

Most fruiting trees require a period of cold weather to set fruit. Before choosing any tree, check its optimal temperature range.

Pecans and palm trees will not grow in the northern Georgia Mountains where temperatures fall below zero in the winter.

Trees, including apples and pears, like a cold spell and will not produce well in the coastal regions.


Planting Trees in Georgia

Planting a tree entails basically the same steps no matter where you are. First, be sure to purchase quality stock from a reputable plant nursery.

Look for trees with healthy branches and well-developed roots, but do not choose one that is root-bound. Bare-root trees are also an option but they’ll take a longer time to get established.

Potted trees can be planted anytime, although fall and spring are better than mid-summer. In Georgia, since the ground rarely freezes, planting trees in winter is ideal.

Arbor Day in Georgia is the third Friday of February and lots of trees are planted in the state on that day.


Directions for Preparing a Hole and Planting a Tree

Dig the hole, removing large rocks, and backfill to the proper height for the tree’s root ball. Place the plant and make sure to get out all of the air pockets as you fill in around the roots.

Make sure the plant is high enough. Remember, the rule is it’s better for the plant to be high enough rather than too deep. Keep the soil moist by watering the tree well until it’s established.

Fertilize as needed, but never in late fall or winter. A newly planted tree in a windy area may need staking so that it doesn’t become dislodged.

Keep an eye out for pests, too. You don’t need aphids eating all the tender leaves or rabbits chewing on the trunk.


Frequently Asked Questions about the Best Trees to Plant in Georgia


What trees do best on city streets where pollution is a problem?

Ginkgo Biloba will thrive in congested areas where traffic fumes might kill other trees. Red oaks also do well in big cities, as do honey locusts. Sweet gum trees thrive in areas like downtown Atlanta where air pollution is concentrated, dirt is compacted, and soil is infertile.


Don’t sweet gum trees make a mess?

Female sweet gum trees drop gumballs that resemble spiky, tan-colored, ping-pong balls. Always choose non-fruiting sweet gums so that gumballs don’t become a problem. No one wants to clean up a messy lawn, sidewalk, or playground.


What trees grow the fastest in Georgia?

Red oaks, maples, sycamores, and weeping willows grow approximately two feet per year and will provide shade in five or six years. If privacy is your goal, choose trees that do not drop their leaves in the winter. Holly and white pine are good choices for blocking views all year long.


Are there trees to avoid planting in Georgia?

Bradford pears have recently fallen out of favor due to their weak limbs and smelly sap. Willows should never be planted next to drain pipes or sewers since their roots can do a lot of damage. Invasive species like mimosa, Chinese privet, and chinaberry should also be avoided.


Choosing the Perfect Tree for Planting in Georgia

Before purchasing or transplanting a tree in Georgia, there are many things to consider.

The region, temperature range, soil condition, water needs for optimal growth, height at maturity, spread, and intended purpose are just a few things that must be taken into account.

Whether choosing a tree for the backyard or a tree for a city park, many choices are available for the Georgia grower. There indeed is a perfect tree for the purpose you have in mind.

The Best Trees to Plant in Georgia
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