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Travelers seek the most scenic locations to view the best of fall foliage every year. | Photo: Yuguesh Fagoonee -

The 10 Best Trees for Brilliant Fall Foliage

October 21, 2013

In the heart of all things fall, every day is a scenic road trip in regions all over the country.

Yet, thousands travel near and far to experience fall foliage at its finest. The golden hues of New England's countryside in early October and the season's deep reds that appear farther south attract the eyes of travelers seeking the most appealing visuals autumn has to offer.

Now, you can enjoy a painted leaf landscape in your own yard by planting consistently vibrant trees. The trees below deliver the most spectacular shades of scarlet, fiery orange or rich yellow, are easy to care for and maintain a unique look each season.

Here are the top 10 trees to plant for show-stopping fall foliage:

1. Maple is the quintessential tree for fall color. Maple trees demand attention with bright apricot leaves that contrast with burnt orange. Maples come in a variety of sizes, so they work in any landscape.

Fall foliage red leaf
Fall foliage provides the season with abundant color-reds, oranges, yellows and plums.

2. Sweetgum is a fast-growing tree with glorious, red leaves that pop in autumn. Sweetgum trees have glossy, star-shaped leaves that stay longer on the tree-allowing you to bask in its dynamic colors into late fall.

3. Sweet birch turns brassy yellow in the fall. Sweet birch trees offer copious amounts of shade in the summer, fend off the bronze birch borer better than any other birch and have a sugary sap that can be used to brew homemade birch soda.

4. Katsura welcomes autumn with a spicy-sweet smell and tangerine color. The katsura tree grows in a pyramid-like shape with an extraordinarily straight trunk and heart-shaped leaves.

5. Ginkgo trees showcase a lustrous yellow  on their fan-shaped leaves every fall. With the ability to grow up to 80 feet tall, ginkgos fiercely resist insects, disease and pollution.

Fall foliage color
Our fall planting tips can help you determine which trees to plant to achieve a fall foliage color show in your own backyard. | Photo: Kochergin -

6. Smokebush transforms into a crimson red  after a summer sprinkled with yellow flowers. Smokebush is a shrub that can be pruned into a small tree with the help of a certified arborist.

7. Witch hazel is a small tree with big yellow color. Witch hazel offers the full package, complete with fragrance, flowers and glowing color in every season.

8. Red-twig dogwood features ruby red leaves and then unveils red stems. This dogwood blossoms with clusters of white flowers that mature into plum-colored fruit to attract birds in spring.

9. Sassafras trees repel mosquitoes and dazzle with pumpkin-colored leaves of various shapes.  Sassafras smells heavily of licorice, which makes it a delightful treat for wildlife.

10. Redbud has goldenrod leaves in the fall and delicate pink flowers in the spring. The redbud tree is a small tree with a rounded crown and a forked, light-colored trunk.

Ready to "plant" ahead?

Consult one of Davey's professionally trained arborists to discuss your tree service concerns as you plant your landscape and prepare for an impressive fall color show and natural beauty all year long.

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