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These survivors laugh in the face of drought and deer. They love hot, sunny climes and bloom in summer, when most trees have ended their show. BUT, crape myrtles hate to be topped off; if you give them plenty of room to grow (15 to 25 feet high and 6 to 15 feet wide), you can use a lighter pruning touch.
Not picky about soil and doesn’t mind wide ranges of temperature. The hardy sugar maple can be a good replacement tree for an ash or elm tree taken by disease. Bonus: eye-popping fall foliage, and you can tap the sap and make your own syrup. Just don’t plant close to roads, because salt from ice melters will harm the tree. They grow 60 to 75 feet high and 40 to 50 feet wide.
Smaller in size (10 to 15 feet high and 12 feet wide), they do well in groupings, hedges, or windbreaks. They like hot, dry weather and thrive in all types of soils. Tons of texture and color, too, from pink bloom clusters in spring to yellow, orange, and red in fall. Purple, gold, or green in between.
Magnolia x soulangeana
Does well in clay soil but would prefer rich, well-draining loams. Its fragrant white-and-purple flowers usually show up in March, putting on a spectacular, if short, show. Grows 20 to 30 feet high and 25 feet wide.
Colorado Blue Spruce
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Blue spruce can thrive anywhere, though give it room to grow (50 to 75 feet high and 10 to 20 feet wide). Birds, who nest in their branches, will love you; deer not so much, because they can’t chow down on this regal tree. Gather pine cones for display in fall.
Japanese Flowering Cherry (aka Yoshino Cherry)
Prunus x yedoensis
Although Yoshinos want moist and well-draining soil, they’ll tolerate less. They have a few enemies — caterpillars, aphids, and spider mites — but the airy, delicate shape and beautiful white-and-pink blossoms are worth the effort to keep pest-free. They grow 40 to 50 feet high and 25 to 40 feet wide.
Northern Red Oak
Red oaks mature at 150 years old and can live to 350 (65 to 75 feet high and 45 feet wide). They’re famous for their generous shade, sturdy branches, and fire-engine red color in fall. Animals love them, too: Red oak acorns feed birds, squirrels, and black bears.
Eastern Red Cedar
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It thrives just about anywhere with full sun. The Eastern red cedar is also good as a windbreak and screen. Birds love this evergreen. They feed on its berries over winter and nest in its dense foliage. Grows 40 to 50 feet high and 8 to 20 feet wide.
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Figs are less fussy (and messy) than apple or citrus trees. Grow near a wall or building to protect them from wind and cold. Prune so every branch is bathed in sun. It’ll reward you with fruit after three or four years; optimally, expect two fig crops per year. Grows 10 to 30 feet high and 15 to 30 feet wide.