Homeowner’s Guide to Choosing and Planting Trees

Looking to enhance the landscaping in your North Florida yard this spring?   

Planting trees can make your yard appear more beautiful, provide welcome shade and more – but choosing the right trees for planting is important, and not always easy.  

Here’s what you need to know about choosing the right trees for your yard in Tallahassee. 

What to Consider Before Planting Trees 

Because trees need the right conditions to thrive, there are several factors to consider before planting one in your yard. 

Climate and Hardiness Zone:  

Consider your local climate, temperature extremes and USDA hardiness zone to ensure their long-term health and survival.  

Mature Size and Shape:  

Research the mature size, height and shape of the tree species you are considering. Ensure that the tree will fit comfortably within the available space without overcrowding other plants, buildings or utilities.  

Purpose and Function:  

Determine the primary purpose of the tree, such as providing shade, attracting wildlife or adding beauty. Select trees that meet your specific needs and objectives.  

Light Requirements:  

Evaluate the amount of sunlight and shade in the planting area throughout the day. Select trees that require similar light conditions to thrive and avoid potential issues with too much or not enough light. 

Soil Conditions:  

Assess your soil type, pH level and drainage characteristics. Choose tree species that are compatible with your soil conditions to promote healthy growth and minimize maintenance requirements. A certified arborist can help with this. 

Local Availability and Sustainability:  

Check the availability of tree species at local nurseries or garden centers. Choose trees that are locally sourced or propagated to support sustainability and reduce the risk of introducing invasive species to your area. 

Popular Trees in Tallahassee  

Need some inspiration for planting trees? A few popular types you’ll see in many Tallahassee yards include: 

Live Oak (Quercus virginiana):  

Known for its majestic size, spreading canopy and evergreen foliage, the Live Oak is a popular choice for providing shade and adding a southern charm.  

Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora):  

With its large, glossy leaves and fragrant, showy white flowers, the Southern Magnolia is prized for its beauty and ability to create a focal point in gardens and yards.  

Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia spp.):  

Crape Myrtles are versatile, flowering trees that bloom in a range of colors, including shades of pink, red, purple and white. 

Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua):  

Sweetgum trees are known for their star-shaped leaves that turn vibrant shades of red, orange and yellow in the fall. 

Red Maple (Acer rubrum):  

Red Maples are fast-growing trees that display brilliant red foliage in the fall. 

Dogwood (Cornus florida):  

Florida Dogwoods produce showy white or pink flowers in the spring, followed by red berries that attract birds. They are valued for their beauty and ability to thrive in partial shade.  

Digging Deeper 

Want to ensure you choose the right trees for planting and give them the best chance of thriving? The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Services (UF | IFAS) has created a helpful (and free) tool that allows you to get specific.  

The site prompts you to enter information including your USDA Hardiness Zone (Zone 9a for Tallahassee residents), annual rainfall, sunlight exposure, the soil pH, texture, surrounding landscaping, conditions and more. It will then provide a list of recommended trees for your precise location.  

Access the Florida Tree Recommendation Tool here. 

Find a Certified Arborist in Tallahassee 

While it can be easy to get carried away with landscaping projects, it’s important to do your homework first to ensure the trees you select can thrive for generations to come. Consulting with a Certified Arborist before you get started is a great way to ensure you are selecting the right trees for your space. Miller’s Tree Service in Tallahassee, Fla., is proud to offer a free consultation with one of our certified arborists as a courtesy to our clients. Contact us to learn more today.