I ask a lot from my landscape trees. I want them to provide me with flowers in the spring, shade in the summer, colorful foliage in the fall, nuts or berries for bird food, nesting material for birds, nectar for butterflies and if they can smell good while doing all that work I would appreciate it.
Trees That Provide Food, Shelter, and Other Attractions for Birds, Butterflies, and Landscape Beauty
A tree must earn its right to take up real estate in my yard and when a client asks me which is the best tree to plant, I recommend they choose from these top 7 hard working trees so they can get the biggest bang for their tree buck.
Ornamental, evergreen confider trees, arborvitae (Thuja species) come in a wide range of mature sizes and shapes. Arborvitaes will provide evergreen texture to your landscape plus seeds, cones, and shelter for birds. Hardy in zones 2 to 10.
Medium to large growing deciduous trees, beech (Fagus species) provide spring flowers, thick canopy for summer shade, copper-colored fall foliage, interesting gray bark, nuts and shelter for birds and is a favored host plant for several varieties of caterpillars. Hardy in zones 4 to 9.
Ornamental, small growing and flowering, dogwoods (Cornus species) are my personal favorite. White or pink spring blooms appear on horizontal-growing limbs before the leaves appear. Brilliant fall foliage followed by bird-attracting red berries after leaf-drop. This hard-to-beat tree provides food and shelter for birds and is a host plant for caterpillars.
The Abies species consists of a large group of coniferous trees that offer evergreen landscape color and fragrance. The small, upright cones provide textural interest and bird food, plus the tree provides dense shelter which many bird species desire. Fir trees are hardy in zones 3 to 10.
Fragrant clusters of white flowers grace this deciduous tree in the spring, followed by cooling summer shade, then colorful fall foliage and non-edible fruits. Fringe trees (Chionanthus species) provide nectar-rich flowers for birds and butterflies, summer shelter, and nesting material. Hardy in zones 4 to 10.
Southern magnolias (Magnolia species) come in both evergreen and deciduous varieties and provide large, glossy leaves and large, showy, fragrant flowers. Magnolias provide architectural interest to landscapes, food, and shelter for birds. Hardy in zones 4 to 11.
The redbud tree (Cercis species) provides three seasons of color in the home landscape – light purple in the spring, greenish-blue in the summer and bright yellow in the fall. This deciduous, spring flowering tree is hardy in zones 4 to 9 and provides nectar-rich flowers for butterflies in the spring and bean-like seed pods in the fall for birds. The trees are provide nesting sites and material for birds and are a popular caterpillar host plant.