Maximize Your Mountain View: Choosing The Perfect Specimen Trees

Specimen trees are a great way to add a focal point to your landscape. They can draw attention with striking colors or intriguing shapes, whether gnarled and twisted, like a crab apple espalier, or rounded and elegant. Choosing the perfect specimen tree involves consideration of many factors. Here are some tips to help you pick the right one: Specimen plants should prompt visitors to stop and stare.

Magnolia tree: specimen trees


Specimen trees are typically larger than other plants, so they often stand out as the focal point in any fruit tree mountain view. Some specimen trees have a particularly pleasing form or unusual texture to their bark, while others are known for their flowers or dramatic foliage colors. Choosing specimen trees that offer multiple seasons of interest can help you create a garden that provides a constant source of inspiration, even after the blooms fade or the leaves turn color. Some deciduous trees change dramatically in fall, while evergreen specimens offer year-round color.


A specimen tree takes center stage in the landscape, often growing alone. This could be due to its size, species, flowering, bark, or form. Color is also a big draw for many specimen trees. Deciduous plants may turn dramatic colors in autumn, while evergreens offer year-round interest. A flamboyant crab apple espalier in the springtime or that swaying, curiously twisted corkscrew willow out front are just two examples of specimen trees with striking shapes. Even formal shrubs like boxwood, a favorite of topiary artists, can elevate your garden with their unique branches. The key is researching a plant that suits your site and vision.


Foliage can add an attractive pop of color to a landscape. It can also be a great way to shade a yard or cool homes in the summer. For example, the Texas ebony (Eugenia texana) produces dense shade and can greatly reduce air conditioning costs. The amur maple (Amura sylvatica) is another option with beautiful orange to red fall colors. This species also works well as a specimen tree in a partially shaded area. It tolerates a wide range of soil conditions.


The defining characteristics of specimen trees are site-specific but usually include a unique color or form. For example, the weeping larch is an excellent specimen tree with gold foliage in fall, bright green feathery spring and summer growth, and distinctive winter form. Magnolias are another classic specimen plant with their fragrant white or pink flowers and rounded shapes. Some specimen plants are grouped to create a naturalistic grove effect or an architectural arrangement like a bosque or allee. Other specimen plants are more individualistic, with one-of-a-kind shapes, textures or colors. Some offer seasonal splendor, like the fragrant lilacs in June or the colorful berries of the burning bush.


A well-placed specimen tree can add a sense of maturity, personality or intimacy to a landscape. They can also shape and define space. A key consideration when choosing a specimen plant is its ability to thrive in your climate. Its hardiness zone rating often determines this. The USDA plant hardiness zones are based on average annual extreme minimum temperatures, a rough guide for gardening and landscaping. Look up your hardiness zone, and consider the types of weather your area typically experiences (winds, drought, and so on). This information will help you select the best plants for your garden. It will also affect how much effort you put into caring for them.


A specimen plant stands out for its beauty, whether it’s the scarlet hawthorn on your front lawn, the strangely contorted corkscrew willows down the street or the clematis that’s a solid sheet of flowers in June. Some gardeners also consider particularly old trees as specimens. Specimen plants typically require good soil preparation and watering. For example, when planted, an ancient olive may need 100 gallons of water a week to establish its root system. They also need space to grow. If your specimen is meant to be a focal point in your landscape, ensure it has plenty of room to stand out.

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