Trees for Your Yard

A few suggestions for greater Atlanta urban yard trees, including some you can get from Trees Atlanta for free.

Small Trees

Common Name Scientific Name Native Foliage comments
Crabapple, Southern Malus augustifolia yes deciduous birds, bees, pollinators, small mammals
Dogwood, Flowering Cornus florida yes deciduous cedar waxwing, cardinal, flicker, mockingbird, robin, gray squirrel
Fringetree Chionanthus virginicus yes deciduous Berries are attractive to wildlife. Twigs and foliage are browsed by many animals. [2]
Hawthorn, Native Crataegus ssp yes deciduous Good for native bees and has berries for birds.
Holly, Yaupon Ilex vomitoria yes evergreen Many species of birds eat the fruit. Mammals eat the fruit as well, and the flowers attract insects. Birds employ the dense branches for nesting sites. [2]
Magnolia Stellata Magnolia Stellata no deciduous Beautiful blooms in late winter and early spring.
Redbud, Eastern Cercis canadensis yes  deciduous Attracts birds and pollinators.
Serviceberry, Common Amelanchier arborea yes deciduous This is a preferred Amelanchier spp. for birds and other wildlife.  It has special value to Bees. [2] [4]  The fruits are delicious, if you can beat the birds to them.
Smoketree, American Cotinus obovatus yes deciduous Browsed by wildlife. [2]
Sourwood Oxydendrum arboreum yes deciduous Special value to Honey Bees. [2] [4]
Witchhazel Hamamelis virginiana yes deciduous Birds eat the fruits. Seeds are eaten by  birds and small mammals. [2] It has beautiful, fragrant blooms in the dead of winter.


Medium to Large Trees

Common Name Scientific Name Native Foliage comments
Basswood, American Tilia americana yes deciduous Attracts birds and has special value to Native Bees. [2] [4]
Birch, River Betula nigra yes deciduous Attracts birds.  Seeds for birds and small mammals. [2]  Birds such as the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and hummingbirds relish the sap.
Chestnut, American Castanea dentata yes deciduous Provides larval food for around 125 species of butterflies and moths. [2]
Cypress, Bald Taxodium distichum yes deciduous Attracts birds. as cover and for nesting site. Attracts insects for birds and has seeds for small mammals. [2]
Elm, American Ulmus americana yes deciduous Attracts birds and butterflies.  Provides cover and nesting sites.  Attracts insects for birds and has seeds for birds and small mammals.[2]
Blackgum Nyssa sylvatica yes deciduous Fruit: birds, and mammals. Nectar: bees [2]
Magnolia, Southern Magnolia grandiflora yes evergreen Provides great cover.  Birds like the red fruit which ripens in the fall.  Has large fragrant flowers.  It’s important to insects and is pollinated by beetles. [6]
Maple, Red Acer rubrum yes  deciduous Used by squirrels and a variety of birds. widely used by inchworms and relied on by a variety of  moths. [2]
Sugar Maple Acer sacchrum yes  deciduous Attracts birds and is of special value to native bees. [2] [4]
Oak, Shumard Quercus shumardii yes  deciduous Fruit for birds and mammals. Nesting sites and cover. [3] Oaks support more than 500 species of moths and butterflies. [7]
Oak, Southern Red Quercus falcata yes deciduous Provides fruit and nesting sites for birds, small mammals.  Attracts birds and is the larval host for 500+ butterflies and moths including Banded Hairstreak and White M Hairstreak. [2] [5] [7]
Oak, White Quercus alba yes deciduous Acorns are horded by birds and mammals.  Attracts birds and more than 500 butterflies and moths. [2] [7]
Pine, Longleaf Pinus palustris yes  evergreen Important stately southern heritage tree trying to make a comeback.  Nuthatches cache seed under the the loose bark. [8]
Poplar, Tulip Liriodendron tulipifera yes deciduous This is a favorite nesting tree for birds and the flowers attract hummingbirds. It attracts birds , butterflies  and hummingbirds and is the larval host for the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly. [2] [5]

References and Additional Information

[1]  UGA Extension: Native Plants for Georgia Part I: Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines (B 987)
[2]  Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
[3]  Missouri Botanical Garden
[4]  The Xerces Society
[5]  Butterflies and Moths of North America
[6]  The United States National Arboretum: Magnolia Q & A
[7]  Doug Tallamy, Bringing Nature Home – Best Bets: What to Plant
[8]  Cornell – All About Birds:  Four Nuthatches, Four Ways to Make It Through a Cold Winter