8 Multipurpose Trees

Pink flowers on a blooming tulip tree

Planting multipurpose trees in your yard can deliver many benefits. Not only do they offer much needed shade and privacy, they can support the local ecology, provide tasty treats, and boost the curb appeal of your home. If you're looking for the perfect tree to fit your yard, here is a list of eight popular multipurpose trees.

1. Tulip Tree

Tulip trees make gorgeous ornaments and offer plenty of shade. They blossom in the spring with tulip-like flowers and turn yellow in the fall. One of the largest trees in North America and relatively fast-growing, they typically sprout up around two feet every year and can reach almost 200 feet in the right conditions. Tulip trees are susceptible to pests, but can be grown in a variety of zones, making them a great choice for homes all around the globe.

2. Sugar Maple

Sugar maples are among the most popular trees in the United States. This species can reach heights of over 70 feet and its broad leaves can form a large, luscious canopy. Their foliage turns bright orange and yellow in the fall, making them ideal for adding color to your yard. Make sure you have plenty of vertical space before planting, and keep an eye on any branches that could threaten your home if they were to break. As their name implies, sugar maples can be tapped for the delicious, sugary sap used to make maple syrup.

A bucket collects sugar from a maple tree.

3. Red Oak

Red oaks are named for their brilliant fall colors. The leaves of the red oak turn vibrant shades of orange in the fall, which can add a lot of color to your landscape. These trees also grow at an incredible rate and can get as tall as 75 feet when fully grown. Because of their large size and massive canopy, red oaks should only be planted in bigger backyards that need considerable shade.

4. Silver Maple

If you are looking for a tree that can shade your entire backyard, look no further than the silver maple. These massive trees grow at a shockingly fast rate of three to seven feet a year, and can reach 100 feet. The leaves have a tint of silver, which is where the tree gets its name. These trees also have very large trunks and root systems, so avoid planting them near any sewage lines or sidewalks.

5. American Holly

The American holly tree offers plenty of privacy and food for wildlife, making it an excellent choice for supporting local critters. It produces red berries every fall, which will stay intact on the tree until well into the winter. The leaves of the tree provide cover around the yard, and the berries attract hungry wildlife, such as birds and tree loving mammals.

6. Mulberry Trees

Mulberry trees offer a delicious food source both for wildlife and for you. The mulberry grows quickly and features wide branches that can support small animals and birds. Because their roots are easily damaged and their berries tend to leave stains where they fall, consider planting any mulberry trees well clear of your home, patio, and driveway.

A bird eats berries from a Mulberry tree.

7. Green Giant Arborvitae

Backyard privacy is a must for many homeowners, and planting trees that can provide some seclusion is a great way to achieve this. Enter the Green Giant Arborvitae. These evergreens are fast-growing and can tolerate just about any soil condition. They grow in a gorgeous conical shape and reach heights of 10 to 15 feet. For a hedge that doubles as a tall screen, these trees are the perfect option.

8. Moringa Tree

Moringa is a great addition if you are looking for a viable food source. Just about every part of this tree is edible, from the bark to the leaves. In fact, this tree is often considered a superfood, and you can turn the leaves into a healthy powder after dehydrating them. Moringas also make great fertilizer as they naturally produce nitrogen. Hardy and resilient, these trees recover nicely after pruning and are very resistant to drought, making them a great choice for many different regions.