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Trees for Fall Color in Atlanta, GA

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Adding these showy trees to your landscaping will bring color to your home every autumn.

Fall can be a time of vivid colors in Georgia. The flowers put on a show in spring but fall is when the trees look their best. You don’t have to go to the Blue Ridge Mountains to enjoy the foliage. It may take some time, but if you add these trees to your landscaping, you can enjoy fall color in your own back yard. Here is a selection of popular trees to add color and curb appeal.

Maple (Acer)

Maple trees thrive in Georgia with different varieties to choose from. The red maple (Acer Rubrum) is the most common maple tree in Georgia. This tree usually starts showing bright red foliage in mid-September. It can be adaptable to a wide range of soil conditions from swamps to dry soils. The Southern Sugar Maple (Acer floridanum) usually has yellow or orange leaves in the fall. Maples can grow anywhere from 40 to 60 feet tall depending on the type of tree you choose. Their thick leaves make them great shade trees as well as pretty to look at.

Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)

These trees are very popular in the northern Atlanta suburbs because they have both summer flowers and brilliant fall leaves. The flowers can range from purple to pink to red while the fall leaves can be flame red and orange. They do best in full sun and need a moderate amount of water.

Though many people make the mistake of cutting off the top of a crepe myrtle in the winter, it really needs judicious
pruning to keep its best appearance. Trees that have been established will tolerate drought, however, they will produce more flowers if you keep them well watered during flowering season.

Sassafrass (Sassafrass albidum)

Sassafrass trees are native to Georgia and grow all over the state. Native Americans once used it for many medicinal purposes and sassafrass oil was once used for flavoring many foods, including early versions of root beer. These trees have male and female versions. If you have both, the females will produce a fruit that will attract birds to your yard.

In the spring, this tree has greenish yellow flowers that attract a variety of pollinators. In the fall, this tree will produce leaves ranging from hues of orange to yellow to brighten up your outdoor space. They like well drained soils but can grow in loam, clay and sandy soils. The sassafrass tree is pretty drought resistant once established, which is always beneficial for a hot Georgia summer.

American Smoketree (Cotinus obovatus)

Depending on the source, the American Smoketree is either a small tree or a large shrub. This unique looking tree provides a striking beauty in the spring and fall. The American Smoketree is native to the Southern United States and named for the wispy pinkish hairs on the tree’s flowers that give it a smoke-like appearance. The flower clusters in the spring range are small and the leaves a brownish pink. In the fall the leaves transition to bright orange and red. It can grow in many kinds of soil, including clay, but it prefers a well drained loamy soil in full sun. This is not a tree that you see everywhere so it would be an addition to make your landscaping stand out.

Ginkgo Tree (Ginkgo biloba)

Ginkgo trees are a great choice for your yard because they are very hardy and resistent to pollution, insects and disease. These trees prefer a well draining soil and full to partial sun. They can eventually grow up to 100 feet tall so it’s important not to place them under power lines. Originating in China, fossil evidence shows that they have existed for centuries. In the spring and summer they have large, green fan-like leaves which provide shade for those hot Georgia summers. After summer, however, the fall colors of the leaves are a vibrant yellow. Ginkgos come in male and female trees: many people prefer the males because the females produce fruit which can cause a mess and an odor.

Dogwood (Cornus florida)

When most people think about the flowering dogwood, they think about the white or pink flowers in the spring, but the tree actually has leaves that turn a rusty red color in the fall. Within the same family, the red twig dogwood is a shrub that will shed its red leaves to reveal red branches which will give your landscape a pop of color all winter long. Dogwoods are native to the eastern United States and popular in the Atlanta area. The tree is celebrated every year at the Atlanta Dogwood Festival. Dogwoods prefer partial shade but can do well in full sun as well. They do best in moist, well drained soil. Dogwoods don’t require yearly pruning, making it a nice low-maintenance tree.

Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea)

Native to the central and eastern United States, the scarlet oak is loved for it’s classic, impressive look and bright red leaves in the fall. A hardwood tree, the scarlet oak can grow 60-100 feet tall in its lifetime. Because of its size, this tree is better suited for large lots. Scarlet oaks tolerate a wide range of soils but prefer acidic. It has some drought tolerance but prefers normal moisture. Some people don’t like having acorns all over their yard, however nature lovers may appreciate this tree. The acorns can attract blue jays, squirrels, chipmunks and other wildlife.

Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum)

The sourwood could be considered either a small tree or a large shrub. That makes it a good ornamental addition if you have a smaller lot. It usually grows around 30-65 feet tall. This tree needs full sun and well drained acidic soil. It can be somewhat drought resistant but produces more flowers if it gets plenty of moisture. In the summer it will grow white bell-shaped flowers that attract bees and other pollinators. Because of these flowers it is often referred to as a “lily-of-the-valley tree” in some regions. Once the tree stops flowering the leaves turn from green to either brilliant red, purplish red or yellow for their fall color. The sourwood tree continues to provide beauty and curb appeal year-round.

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