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Best Trees to Plant Near a Driveway by Zone

April 8, 2021
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Want to significantly change the appearance of your home landscape?

Plant a tree! And if that tree is in your front yard specifically, your house’s curb appeal and value can also see a boost. In fact, a Management Information Services/ICMA study says landscaping with trees can increase property values as much as 20 percent.

But just as they say in real estate, one of the most important factors in determining tree value and performance is location, location, location.

While you may have a good idea what trees go best near your home or in your backyard, maybe as you pull into your driveway from the street, you see your barren lawn and wish you could add more shade, color, or height to your entryway.

Never fear: There’s a tree for that!

While not all trees are suitable for this space, there are some that can fill the bill.

Take a look at these best trees to plant near a driveway to give you some inspiration on how you can transform your landscape.

How Far to Plant Trees From Driveway

When you’re looking at trees to plant near driveways, you have to consider how close to the driveway to plant them.

This is very important because roots that grow under concrete may not receive adequate water, oxygen, and other nutrients they need to grow healthy. Also, tree roots are usually found within the top 6 to 24 inches of soil, which means if they are planted too close they may easily lift or crack your driveway.

You should base your planting spacing on the projected size of the tree when it’s fully grown. Typically, you want to plant the tree as far away from driveway and other hardscape as practical without jeopardizing the landscape design aesthetics.

Best Trees to Plant Near Driveway
Since there are so many different types of trees, knowing which ones will perform best near your driveway is important.

Some trees, for instance, have aggressive or invasive roots. Others drop leaves, fruits, nuts, or seed cones, so you may want to limit this excess debris in your driveway, especially if you want to park your car there.

The good news is that while there are a few trees to avoid, there are also plenty of beautiful and attractive trees that can thrive near your driveway. Here are some trees to plant near driveways to consider.

Best Shade Trees to Plant Near Driveway

During the heat of the summer, nothing beats a shade tree. It provides an instant cooling effect the second you step beneath its canopy.

These driveway canopy trees will give you all the beauty and shade you need.

USDA Zones 4 to 9

  • Gingko - This deciduous, hardy, shade tree boasts unique, fan-shaped leaves and a height of 80 feet. Their gorgeous golden fall color is also a welcome sight for front yards. This slow-grower is ideal in USDA zones 4 to 9. Select a male tree if possible since female trees drop fruit and create a messy situation.
  • River Birch - The river birch can reach 40 to 70 feet with a 30- to 60-foot spread in USDA zones 4 to 9. It prefers well-drained soil, and tolerates drought conditions. River birch has bark that peels, with pinkish tones underneath.
  • American Beech - This strong tree thrives in a wide range of growing conditions. It has dense foliage and long, strong branches, growing to 50 to 70 feet high and spreading to approximately 40 feet in USDA zones 4 to 9. Its smooth, grey bark and golden fall foliage can make your home shine.

USDA Zones 2 to 7

  • Paper Birch - Named for the tree’s thin, white bark, which often peels in paper-like layers, the paper birch has a mature height of 50 to 70 feet with a 35-foot spread. It turns a bright yellow in autumn, brightening up fall in USDA zones 2 to 7.

Fast Growing Driveway Trees

If you’re seeking instant impact when planting trees near driveways, consider these gems that boast a moderate growth rate.

USDA Zones 3 to 7

  • Japanese lilac tree - In early summer, this tree shines with its white, fragrant flowers that come in roughly 1-foot-long and 10-inch-wide clusters. With a 30-foot height and 20-foot spread, it creates an impressive canopy in USDA zones 3 to 7. Japanese lilacs tolerate full sun and urban pollution, thriving in well-drained soil.

USDA Zones 3 to 9

  • Honeylocust tree - Want a tree over your driveway, but with more dappled sunlight or limited shade for a bright, open front yard? While this tree is considered a shade tree that can spread 70 feet and grow in USDA zones 3 to 9, this fast-grower has delicate leaves that allow sun to sneak through. On top of that, it can handle poor soil and has strong branches that are resistant to storm or snow damage.

USDA Zones 4 to 9

  • Hybrid Willow - With a growth rate of 6 to 12 feet per year, this disease-resistant tree can reach its mature height of almost 75 feet in about 5 years. Dense foliage makes it a great wind break, too. This tree enjoys full to partial sun in USDA zones 4 to 9.

Best Evergreen Trees to Line Driveway

A line of evergreens can provide year-round seclusion and much-needed greenery during the winter months.

Here are some of the best trees to plant near driveways that stay green all year long.

USDA Zones 6 to 10

  • Leyland Cypress - With a broad to tapering form and smooth bark, the darker green foliage of this evergreen provides a great screen along a driveway. It grows up to 70 feet high and 15 feet wide in USDA zones 6 to 10.

USDA Zones 3 to 7

  • Rocky Mountain Juniper - For a bluer-green shade in your front yard, try this evergreen that grows to 30 feet in height with a 6-foot width in USDA zones 3 to 7. It also has exfoliating red-brown bark that brings character.

USDA Zones 7 to 10

  • Italian Cypress - There’s something elegant about tall, narrow conifer like this cypress with its gray-green to dark green needles and strong columnar shape that can reach 70 feet high and 20 feet wide. This evergreen thrives in USDA zones 7 to 10.

USDA Zones 2 to 7

  • Emerald Green Arborvitae - This evergreen has bright green foliage that looks like it spreads in small, flat fans. The tree grows in a narrow pyramid up to 14 feet high and 4 feet wide in USDA zones 2 to 7.

USDA Zones 2 to 9

  • Eastern Red Cedar - This adaptable tree grows in dry, rocky areas and can thrive in urban areas and as windbreaks in USDA zones 2 to 9. This tree can grow up to 50 feet tall in full sun and well-drained soil.

Best Narrow Driveway Trees

Looking for a more modest, vertical effect with the trees you plant along your driveway? Try these narrow driveway trees.

USDA Zones 4 to 8

  • Ornamental Pear - Suited to USDA zones 4 to 8, some ornamental pear varieties have a cone or columnar shape vs. a rounded one. A pyramid shape with a minimal spread of 15 feet across provides a gentler effect. But this tree won't sleep on the job when it comes to impact; it boasts showy white flowers (that may have an unpleasant smell to some) in early spring and vibrant orange-red leaves in the fall reaching up to 40 feet in height.

USDA Zones 4 to 9

  • ‘Goldspire’ Ginkgo - The deep, golden foliage of this tree has a narrow growth habit that comes along with its bright, eye-popping shade. Enjoying USDA zones 4 to 9 and full to partial sun, it can grow 15 feet high and 5 to 6 feet wide.

Best Trees for Long Driveway

If you have a very long driveway, you might want to break the visual up with entryway color or bigger impact with tree-lined driveway ideas.

Whichever route you choose to take, these trees can help you create that front yard impact.

USDA Zones 7 to 9

  • Crape Myrtle - If you live in a warmer climate, the crape myrtle is one of the more colorful entry trees for driveways out there, boasting bright blooms. Thriving in sunny conditions and warm days, this drought-tolerant tree can grow more than 15 feet high and wide in USDA zones 7 to 9.

USDA Zones 4 to 8

  • Flowering crabapples - Want to line your driveway with color? Try planting a row of this tree with larger varieties that can grow up to 40 feet tall and wide, and smaller ones reaching 15 to 20 feet tall and wide. Bloom shades come in everything from white to light pink to magenta and last for a 4- to 5-week period starting in spring. This tree comes in varieties that work in USDA zones 4 to 8.

NOW THAT YOU HAVE AN IDEA ON BEST TREES TO PLANT ALONG YOUR DRIVEWAY, CHECK OUT THIS LIST OF BEST TREES TO PLANT NEAR YOUR HOME.

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