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New York Guide to Growing Trees

If you are a New Yorker, you know that there is no shortage of trees. You may not be able to find them in the city, but on Long Island or upstate they are plentiful. But if you want to grow your tree at home in the city, how do you go about it? This guide will give advice and tips for growing trees in New York City. 

Trees in New York

The Best Flowering Trees to Grow in New York

Cleveland Pear Tree

One tree you need to plant in your yard is Cleveland Pear. The Cleveland Pear is a tightly structured tree without the need for pruning that grows naturally oval. This makes it perfect for front yard trees or border trees roads and driveways. This variety resists damage from extreme snow, ice and wind, and pests which save time on maintenance. It also has a narrower pyramidal shape, making it well-suited for even the tightest garden spaces. Despite its smaller size, blooms galore are produced all year round that transition (fall) into striking orange-red leaves at the end of fall. No matter where you plant this tree, it will display pure white flowers each spring. If you like a particular shape for your pear tree, choose the variety with that shape. If you care about how the tree smells and want to go even further in creating a scent garden, then Cleveland Pear is an excellent choice compared to various other varieties.

Planting & Care

Place your Cleveland Pears in full sun to ensure they thrive and after they have established themselves for the first season, you no longer need to worry about water. Dig a hole twice as wide and long as the tree’s root ball. Put the tree in it. Fill any remaining space with soil, water to settle roots, and cover the surrounding area with mulch to retain moisture. To water your tree, give it at least 5 gallons of water each week during spring and summer. If the leaves feel brittle or start turning brown around the edges, increase watering to twice a week for an additional 5‑10 gallons. When it is winter, a good watering once every month is sufficient. If your tree was struggling during the summer season or is young (younger than four years old), you need to water it at least twice per week. In the fall, fertilize about six weeks before your first frost date. You can use a general-purpose fertilizer of 10-10-10 or similar for your tree. Pruning is best done in late fall when the tree has lost its foliage. Remove any low branches that grow from the base of the tree and any dead or damaged limbs.

Kwanzan Cherry Tree

The Kwanzan cherry tree is the most robust breed of the Cherry Tree family, and it heightens springtime each year without fail. Its flowers are also double pink making for twice as many petals and flower blooms. Planting Kwanzan Cherry trees in New York is a surefire way to add beauty and color to your property. Your Kwanzan Cherry Tree produces huge clusters of two to five flowers that are the thickest of all pink blossoms. These clusters resemble carnations and bloom in clusters mostly consisting of three flowers, similar to a trinity. Kwanzan cherry trees will start blooming in April, and the flowers offer a good show for about five weeks. When they go dormant in late summer, you’ll see some red foliage that lasts until early fall. One of the easiest flowering trees to grow is the Kwanzan cherry, but not just because it's fast-growing. Uprooting this tree would prove difficult in any soil or climate, so there’s no guesswork when it comes to caring for your garden.

Planting & Care

Kwanzan cherry trees grow best in moist soil and four to six hours of sunlight each day. To plant a tree, dig a hole twice as wide and deep as the root ball. Leave about one foot of dirt on top. Gently spread out roots before inserting into the hole and backfilling dirt around the root system. Cover roots with straw or leaves to protect them from harsh winter weather rather than soil. Care for your tree by watering it every day or two until the top 2 inches of soil has dried out. Flowering cherries do not require fertilizer for the first two years after they are planted. After that, apply 1/10 pound of nitrogen per year into its soil for each year it has lived for a maximum of 1 pound to keep it healthy and lush. To get more flowers and fruit for the next season, remove faded flowers. Remove branches that are dead or damaged during winter.

The Best Shade Trees in New York

Kentucky Coffeetree

If you're interested in adding a new shade tree to your property but don't have the time or inclination to deal with messy leaves, the Kentucky Coffeetree might be a good option. Also for those who love the form of the Kentucky Coffee tree, but are not enamored with its messy seed pods during fall, there is a variety just for you. With its unique upward branching pattern and no two trees being alike, these trees are especially striking year-round. One of the best features about Kentucky Coffeetree is that it does not care about environment type, whether the tree will live happily with warmer or colder, more polluted or cleaner air, soils rich or poor. And even if we're lucky with a deer-free zone there are few pests, diseases, and other damaging wildlife that spoil the Kentucky Coffeetree's day. The Kentucky Coffee trees are loved for their wide range of features, including they don't produce seeds like other varieties, meaning that you can plant them in a garden without worry. They create great winter silhouettes which look spectacular - tree branches have crossed patterns, unlike any others. The light canopy ensures that not only will the undergrowth near your tree be uninhibited from shade but it won't also feel so hot and muggy during the summer months since there's little-to-no air circulation when living vegetation is surrounded by taller plants with dense canopies. The Kentucky Coffee tree has a lofty height of 60-70 feet, making it perfect for open spaces that require a large amount of shade. This tree achieves both form and function as an ideal landscape item for golf courses or green parks.

Planting & Care

Kentucky Coffee trees can be planted in any soil, as long as they are close to a location that receives full sun. Plant in a hole that is wider and shallower than the root ball, but about twice as deep. Mulch around the outside of the canopy, but not near the trunk to maintain moisture levels. Avoid planting trees next to powerlines, structures, or sewer lines. This tree can handle wet and dry conditions. Since it’s a new plant, be sure to keep it watered weekly in its early years.

Sugar Maple Tree

Sugar Maple trees are an investment for your backyard that is well worth it. They offer beauty, strength, and charm in equal measure. No wonder New York, Vermont, and Canada have all adopted it as their state trees! Planting a sugar maple tree can give you a show of color like nothing else. Not surprisingly, its autumn foliage is one of the most striking in the landscape. When the branches are heavy with green leaves, they will year by year metamorphose to a bar of rich gold and then bright yellow. This culminates in a deep red color that you can't wait to see again next fall.

Planting & Care

Sugar Maples grow in any fertile soil but prefer well-draining, moist soil. Sugar Maple is relatively drought-tolerant - it needs little irrigation unless there are hot summers. Select a location where the Maple receives four to eight hours of sunlight per day. Dig a hole two to three times wider and deep than the root ball. To plant a tree, fill about 4 inches of the soil at the bottom of your planting hole with water and let it soak. Next, carefully set your tree in its new home keeping the root ball level. Add more dirt to cover up all of the roots, making sure there are no air pockets anywhere. Soak again with more shallow water and then pack down firmly before watering one last time. Finally, mulch around the base for a beautiful yard with lots of green space! For its life-cycle, a Maple tree will offer different watering needs. As it matures you need to provide more water during the summer months. Be sure that you are watering correctly by checking for light green leaves or drooping ones with this condition - over/under-watering can lead to both outcomes. Immediately after planting a new maple, use fertilizer pellets over two months to encourage growth. The tree should only be fertilized twice during its first year and once or twice during subsequent years when changing seasons occur (depending on whether it is growing in dormancy). Prune during the dry season, when sap levels are low. Cut back dead or dying branches. Before you start cutting any live branches, examine the tree to determine what parts need to be cut. Note any large branches that are growing at narrow angles or rubbing against other branches.

The Best Fruit Trees in New York

American Cranberry

American Cranberry shrubs are one of the most impressive trees that you can grow in your backyard garden or landscape. They typically grow up to 5-6 ft tall with a similar spread and produce a round-shaped form with opposite leaves which have three lobes. It is native to North America and heralds from New York State. One of the most attractive features of this flowering edible shrub is that it requires no maintenance. In addition, this plant will work well in a variety of landscapes as it adapts easily to changes due to the zone you're living in. With its year-round interest, these qualities make the American Cranberry bush one of your new favorite additions to your yard. Plum blossoms, also called prunus mume, can be found in clusters of up to a dozen flowers at any one time. Mature plum trees produce beautiful white or yellow fruit that matures to green. With autumn approaching, American Cranberry's leaves change to beautiful orange, crimson, and burgundy. During this time, red berries become more visible and begin creating a dazzling display of colors. If left to their own devices, these stunning clusters of berries will retain their color throughout the winter. Not only does this reaffirm that beautiful warmth during an often dull and frosty landscape, but it also provides much-shriveled animals with a welcome snack when food sources are scarce. There are many benefits to planting cranberry trees. Outside of the health and taste benefits, this tree is great for crafters looking to decorate their homes around this time of year. Inexpensive and eye-appealing berries add a pop of color in swags or arrangements that can be used at any celebration during the winter holidays.

Planting & Care

The American cranberry can tolerate conditions from full sun to dry soil. It prefers moist, alkaline soils that are not standing water. This plant is a deciduous hedge or mixed border specimen, and it needs at least 6 hours of direct sunlight. Once you've figured out where to put your shrub, choose a good location and dig a hole that's three times the size of the pot it came in. The roots must be pulled from the plant so that a deeper root system will be established. This should spawn an easier time with watering your tree. Tamp the soil as you fill in your planting hole with a mixture of native soil and compost or garden soil. Test your soil with a kit to measure its pH if the pH is low use lime, which raises the pH. After planting, make sure that the area drains well so that the roots are not standing in water. When you plant trees in the fall, cover the planting area with a layer of mulch of an average thickness to provide protection for roots from cold and conserve moisture. American cranberry bushes prefer well-drained soil. To help retain moisture, avoid watering too often at first to establish a baseline (wait until the ground is dry about 2 inches down), then water regularly and most importantly deeply rather than just moistening the surface. During periods of high heat, they require more water and less during cooler times. American cranberries need only a small amount of fertilizer to thrive. If your leaves start to fade in color, providing too much nitrogen will inhibit flower and fruit production. Compost is a good fertilizer for these plants as it sits at the lower end of the scale with regards to which plants can tolerate. American cranberries can be allowed to bloom on old wood or pruned once they are done flowering for maximum bloom. These plants need little pruning, except to shape them and control their overall height.

Honeycrisp Apple Tree

The Honeycrisp tree is prized for its high-quality apples, but the flavor and quality of home-grown Honeycrisps cannot be matched by even homegrown or store-bought varieties. In just one year, it can produce fruit at least as pleasurable as those that take three years to mature. This cold-hardy variety has disease resistance attuned to the NY climate and produces fruit with just a single graft onto proven rootstock. The crisp, crunchy taste of Honeycrisp apples is loved by many. As a result, the fruit has become very popular in stores across the US.

Planting & Care

To grow a Honeycrisp apple tree, plant it in an area that receives six hours of direct sunlight per day and has well-drained soil. Dig a hole twice the width of the root ball and just as deep, then place your seedling in the center; tamp down your tilled soil on top of the plant before watering with enough water to settle it into its new home. Give your Honeycrisp tree protection from weed growth by adding mulch all around. You should provide ample water to your Honeycrisp Apple tree every week. When it is dormant, only give the tree enough water to keep the soil moist. As soon as you notice new growth, water more deeply if there have been signs of dryness in the top two inches of soil. After your tree becomes established and starts bearing fruit, it will need to be periodically pruned. Prune trees only during their period of dormancy. Remove any vigorous, upright stems and weak, damaged, or dead branches. Low-hanging branches should also be removed. Pruning encourages growth, so it's perfect for your tree!

When is The Best Time to Plant Trees in New York

The best time to plant a tree in New York is between November and March. This will ensure the trees survive through winter and early spring while they are most vulnerable and during their first growing season.

Can You Plant All Season Long?

Planting in New York all year round is not feasible. Trees require a certain amount of time to grow before being ready for transplanting. If you plant too early, your tree will not survive winter or spring freeze. The weather varies greatly throughout New York State so make sure you know the weather forecast in your area before you schedule a planting.

What are The Best Trees to Plant Each Season in New York


Flowering trees such as lilacs, magnolias, and crabapples are suitable choices for planting during this season because they will attract pollinators. Birch, maple, and oak trees are also a good choice.


Best trees for hot summer conditions are shade-tolerant: honey locust, ornamental figs, or southern magnolia. These types of trees can withstand some drought and high temperatures without sustaining damage from insects or disease.

Fall time

The best tree choices for cooler autumn days include American elm, white oak, and sweetgum (locus). These hardy species will survive even if there is an unexpected frost because their roots are near ground level which prevents them from freezing solid during the winter months.


Persimmons make good evergreen choices when planting for these seasons as well as varieties like Japanese snowbells that can withstand the cold.

What Trees Have The Least Invasive Roots in New York

The least invasive trees in New York are those in the Elm and Maple family. Sugar Maples can grow to be quite large and take up a lot of space if they are not pruned by professionals at least every two years, making them more invasive than other trees on this list. Elms have weak roots that do not penetrate deeply into soil or pavement so they will only come from sidewalks over time but their shallow root system means you should avoid planting Elms near septic tanks as this can lead to sewer backups.