In Pennsylvania, we get the best of all of the seasons. It is a fantastic place for people who really want to experience the most beautiful times of the year but not get too much snow, too much heat, or too much pollen. Instead, we get 3-4 months of each one and then we move onto the next. While this is one of the best parts about living here, it can also be somewhat limiting for people who like to garden.
This means you also have to be careful about what kinds of trees that you plant. While one tree might do really well in our warm, humid summers, it might not do as well in our colder, harsh winters – or the opposite. Of course, this also means that there are some trees that do extremely well in our climate.
If you are looking for the best trees to plant in PA, here are some of the choices you have:
5. Swamp White Oak
- Extremely attractive tree
- Requires very little watering
- Prefers full sunlight
If you want a tree that is easy to take care of but still extremely beautiful and striking, the Swamp White Oak is a fantastic option. The light gray bark makes it different from the rest of the trees you see in a yard, especially when it is younger. Once it grows, the lobed leaves have a unique two-tone appearance, with a brilliant emerald green on the top and a silvery underside.
In fall, this tree is a gorgeous orange-gold color that will attract a lot of attention. Most Pennsylvania homeowners use this tree as a shade tree for a larger yard because it does reach about 60 feet tall. As expected, this tree is very drought tolerant.
According to the Morton Arboretum, it is “One of the easiest oaks to transplant and more tolerant of poor drainage than other oaks.”
4. Paperbark Maple
- Great for smaller yards
- Typically doesn’t require water
- Prefers full sun if possible
One of the best trees for a PA yard is the Paperbark Maple. This is a small tree with an oval or rounded shape. The branches are slender and upright, making it a great choice for small places. It only grows to be about 30 feet, so it can be paired with other trees of the same size, other Paperbark Maples, or just by itself, depending on the space you have.
The interesting part about this tree is the bark, which is a copper orange color at some points and a reddish brown at others. It peels off in pieces, creating a beautiful mosaic on the trunk of the tree. While it is native to China, it has found a true home in PA.
According to the Bernheim Arboretum, “The bark of this tree is one of the most decorative barks of any maple tree.”
3. Pin Oak
- Typically doesn’t require watering
- Can be ornamental or stand alone
- Tolerant of urban stressors
The Pin Oak tree is another popular one for PA homeowners to plant because it doesn’t interfere with most concrete or hardscaping work. Even better, it grows extremely quickly, making it the tree of choice for those who want to plant a tree and actually enjoy it. It is also resistant of urban stressors.
Note that some people don’t like this tree because as it ages, it sometimes becomes irregular and will have quite a bit of difference in the circumference of the crown, but pruning can help this. Lower branches will also start to droop, leaving pin-like branches.
According to the University of Kentucky, “Pin oak is probably used more than any other native oak in the landscape.”
2. Sugar Maple
- Grows up to 110 feet
- Requires minimal watering
- Does best in full sun
If you are looking to make a commitment with your tree, the Sugar Maple is a fantastic option for Pennsylvania. It is the state tree of three nearby states because of how well it grows. This tree doesn’t only grow extremely tall, which means you’ll need a wide open space to plant it, but it lives a long life. In fact, it can live over 400 years.
Most people plant the Sugar Maple because they want the gorgeous autumnal coloring, which will be quite a show for your family. The vibrant yellows, bright reds, and burnt oranges are truly spectacular. Even better, this tree can make maple sugar if the conditions are right and you know what you’re doing.
According to the National Arbor Day Foundation, this tree grows at a medium rate, growing anywhere from 1-2 feet per year. Once it reaches its peak, however, it is extremely hardy.
1. Red Oak
- Tolerant of all types of pollution
- Easy to take care of
- Requires water only during drought
If you are looking for a tree that can withstand almost anything that the world has to throw at it, a Red Oak may just be your best bet. It is known to be an extremely strong and hardy tree, able to withstand wildlife, disease, weather, and human interaction.
A Red Oak can reach up to 75 feet wide and tall, so it is definitely a tree for a larger yard. Note that this one does grow much faster than other types of oak trees, so you should consider that. The tree wears each season beautifully, with bright red leaves in the autumn and a green luster in the summer.
According to Oplin, it is also the preferred tree for many different animals because it has large acorns.
At the end of the day, whatever tree you plant will need proper care, maintenance, and treatment in order for it to thrive. While Pennsylvania is a great place to plant trees on any level, you do have to be careful and make sure that you use the best practices and techniques to care for it. The best way to do that is to hire a tree care professional.
The team at Cutting Edge Tree Professionals has a wide range of experience with trees of all kinds. We have been trained to handle jobs of any size, working to keep your trees beautiful and healthy year round. Whether you need help with a tree that is already planted or you want help choosing the best tree for your yard, give us a call at (814) 240-2172.