How To Select Trees for Your Home in Michigan


Selecting trees for your home landscape can seem daunting at first, because there are so many to choose from. In Michigan, you must plant trees that can withstand prolonged freezing temperatures during winter and are hardy for your zone. The northernmost part of Michigan is classified as USDA hardiness zone 4, with minimum annual temperatures down to minus 30 degrees F, while the rest of the state is in zone 5, with winter temperatures down to minus 15 or 20.

Step 1

Consider where your trees will be growing in your landscape. Think about the type of soil your have and the sunlight exposure. For example, consider planting an American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana), Canada hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) or red buckeye (Aesculus pavia) if you have a shady yard, or American beech (Fagus grandifolia) or American elm tree (Ulmus americana) for areas in full sunlight.

Step 2

Choose trees by their mature size and the amount of space you have. Smaller trees for Michigan landscapes include the Amur maple (Acer ginnala), crabapple trees (Malus spp.) and flowering dogwoods (Cornus florida), while larger trees include the Austrian pine tree (Pinus nigra), black oak (Quercus velutina) and bur oak (Q. macrocarpa).

Step 3

Consider trees' tolerance to certain conditions, such as high winds, droughts and compacted soils. The American arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) and eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides) are good choices for Michigan yards with compacted soils, while the Colorado spruce (Picea pungens) and common mulberry (Morus alba) can grow in dry sites and survive droughts.

Step 4

Select trees for your Michigan home by their intended use. For example, the American beech and elm trees, as well as the European alder (Alnus glutinosa) and ash (Fraxinus excelsior) trees, are best for use as shade trees. The Austrian pine, Colorado spruce, Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and American arborvitae all create excellent privacy screens when planted in a row.

Tips and Warnings

  • Beware of selecting trees that are highly susceptible to pests, diseases and other problems. For instance, the American elm and lacebark elm (Ulmus parvifolia) are highly susceptible to Dutch elm disease, which is nearly impossible to control or cure and leads to death of the trees. Many hawthorn trees (Crataegus sp.) and eastern red cedars are susceptible to the fungal diseases cedar-hawthorn rust and cedar-quince rust. Avoid planting tall-growing or larger trees such as oaks, spruces and sycamores (Platanus occidentalis) beneath or near overhead utility lines . Also, don't plant large trees with vigorous, spreading root systems, such as willows (Salix spp.) near underground septic systems and drain fields.


  • University of Illinois Extension: Selecting Trees for Your Home
  • Michigan State University: Identifying Trees of Michigan

Who Can Help

  • Fast Growing Trees Nursery: Michigan Trees
Keywords: Michigan landscaping, trees for Michigan, select landscape trees

About this Author

Sarah Terry brings 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters, and a plethora of how-to articles. Terry has written articles and publications for a wide range of markets and subject matters, including Medicine & Health, Eli Financial, Dartnell Publications and Eli Journals.