The state of Tennessee: home to country music, Elvis Presley, and some truly beautiful trees! Planting a tree is one of the best ways to beautify your home, but choosing which trees to plant can be difficult. You want to make sure you pick a tree that will complement your surroundings, but also find one that will flourish in its environment.
Luckily, I’ve done a bit of that work for you! Read on to discover the best trees to plant in Tennessee!
The Best Trees to Plant in Tennessee
1. Autumn Blaze Maple
If you’re looking to set yourself up for an absolutely awe-inspiring autumn display, the Autumn Blaze Maple is one of the best trees to plant in Tennessee for autumn colors! This fiery tree shows off an array of leaves in brilliant, vivid red during the fall months, sure to amaze passersby and residents alike. However, keep in mind that maples do produce seeds, often called helicopters. You’ve probably seen these little guys spinning through the air in springtime, and while they’re fun to watch, they can leave a mess in your yard.
· Gorgeous colors
· Increased yard maintenance
2. Bald Cypress
The bald cypress tree is one of the oldest species of tree still growing today, and it’s a popular choice to grow for a reason. It’s low-maintenance, quick to grow, hardy against the elements, and turns an utterly stunning shade of red in the fall. However, you’ll need to have a pretty sizeable space if you’re looking to plant a bald cypress—these trees are tall and wide, reaching heights of up to 60 feet and a spread of up to 30 feet!
· Pretty fall color
· Easy to care for
· Stands up well to wet or dry weather
· Large size can be a restriction in smaller yards
3. Tulip Poplar
Now this is a glamorous tree! This tree is sure to impress in all seasons, showing off its colorful flowers in springtime and turning out Midas-touched gold leaves in autumn. While they aren’t actually “tulips,” the flowers do resemble them, and it makes sense that this member of the best trees to plant in Tennessee club shares a name with the ground-dwelling doppelgangers to its blooms. This tree gets very tall, up to 70 feet in height, and its spread can reach out 50 feet around! Another thing to keep in mind is that unlike the former trees on this list, it’s not the fastest grower—you’ll only see about two feet of growth a year.
· Flowers make it pollinator-friendly and add curb appeal
· Golden fall colors
· Large size requires proper space to grow
· Growth is only medium-paced
4. Autumn Cherry
Can’t get enough of flowering trees? Great news—neither can I! Next up on the list of the best trees to plant in Tennessee is the autumn cherry tree; when you plant one of these beauties, you can get twice the blooms throughout your year! This tree’s elegant pink blossoms will make their debut in spring and disappear in the summer, but they’ll be back for quite the encore in autumn. This tree is an especially great choice for those passionate about providing fuel for local pollinators. However, keep in mind that petal-shedding flowers mean extra yard maintenance.
· Twice-yearly batches of blooms
· Extremely helpful to pollinator populations
· Smaller spread
· Fallen petals will create more yard maintenance
5. Weeping Willow
The list of best trees to plant in Tennessee can’t possibly be complete without a weeping willow. These gentle giants give the impression of peace and security wherever they’re planted, and their cascading branches will provide added privacy to your yard. However, they are definitely gentle giants—if you don’t have the room for a 50 foot tall tree with a potential 50 foot spread, you may have to dry a few tears of your own and let this one go.
· Added privacy
· Very fast grower—they can gain up to 10 feet per year
· Very large. Needs lots of space to grow
Ash trees are one of the more common trees in the US, and they’re a great tree to choose if you’re looking for a classic look. However, be warned: ash trees are very vulnerable to disease. Even so, they’re still one of the best trees to plant in Tennessee thanks to their adaptability and ease of growth.
· Easy to grow
· Multiple varieties to pick from
· Vulnerable to disease
7. Flowering Dogwood
That’s right, we’re back to flowers! The flowering dogwood is one of my personal favorite trees, and definitely earns its spot as one of the best trees to plant in Tennessee. Pollinator-friendly, smaller in stature, and gorgeous to look at, this is a great choice to spruce up your landscape. However, its flowers give off a very particular odor that can be off-putting to some people.
· Beautiful flowers
· Smaller tree, good for most yards
· Can smell unpleasant to some people
8. Southern Live Oak
If you’re not as much a fan of fall colors, this will probably be your favorite out of the best trees to plant in Tennessee. The Southern Live Oak keeps its green foliage all year long, so you can keep the rake in your garage this fall—however, this is a big fella. It can grow up to 80 feet tall, so this is not the tree for a tiny yard.
· Too large for smaller yards
9. Thuja Green Giant
The Thuja is one of the best trees to plant in Tennessee if you’re looking to create a privacy fence with your trees. While these tall but narrow trees don’t offer much shade, that narrowness allows for many to be planted in a row to keep prying eyes out!
· Great for privacy
· Not good for shade
10. Sugar Maple
Are you a maple syrup fan? If so, you may want to consider the Sugar Maple! Not only is this a durable tree that shows off a myriad of fiery colors in the autumn months, but if you have the proper equipment available to you, you can absolutely make your own maple syrup out of its sap. However, this tree is slightly less adaptable and won’t thrive in certain types of soil, so be sure to do your research!
· Potential to make your own syrup
· Beautiful fall colors
· Picky about soil
11. Japanese Lilac
If you’re not afraid to take on one of the best trees to plant in Tennessee that’s a bit of a late bloomer, you should absolutely try planting a Japanese lilac in your garden! While it blooms later in the season than most plants, it does flower eventually, and it might be nice to have some beautiful flowers to look at while everyone else’s plants have already moved on. While this isn’t the tree for you if you’re looking for a shade tree, it’s a good choice for smaller yards as it only reaches 25 feet in height at its maximum.
· Flowers a bit later in the season, which will increase your curb appeal in comparison to other houses with earlier-blooming plants
· Good pick for a smaller space
· Not good for shade
The American Elm is one of the best trees to plant in Tennessee if you’re looking for a truly gargantuan member of your garden family. These trees can get huge, able to reach heights of up to 100 feet and spreads of up to 90 feet. You’re going to have a very hard time beating the shade offered by an elm tree! It flourishes well in most soils, is pollinator-friendly, and will live for quite a long time.
· Great shade tree
· Long-living and fast-growing
· Not suitable for small spaces
13. Black Gum
This is one of the pricier trees amongst the best trees to plant in Tennessee, but its beauty makes it worth it! In the fall, this tree lights up in brilliant shades of gold and pinkish-red, and it’s not too overwhelmingly large. It’s good for shade, good for pollinators, and good for prettying up your outdoor space!
· Pretty in the fall
· Good size
· Good shade tree
· More expensive than other trees
Magnolia trees are a classic feature of the southern states, making them a shoo-in for one of the best trees to plant in Tennessee. There are several varieties to choose from, all boasting beautiful flowers that are great for pollinators. However, these trees can reach heights of 70 feet and require full sunlight to thrive best, so make sure you have an open space for them to grow.
· Beautiful blooms
· Can get tall
· Require strong sunlight
15. Japanese Boxwood
The Japanese Boxwood is less of a tree and more of a shrub; however, it makes the list of best trees to plant in Tennessee because it can reach heights of up to 15 feet, which makes it a great choice for smaller garden spaces.
· Good for small gardens
· Not good for shade
Wrapping Up the Best Trees to Plant in Tennessee
There you have it! No matter which of the 15 best trees to plant in Tennessee you choose to plant in your yard, you’re sure to be thrilled by the beauty you’ve welcomed into your backyard space.
Looking for more of the best things to do and see in Tennessee? Check out all our posts about the great state of Tennessee!