By Ross Latham

When you look out at your yard considering what landscaping you can do, chances are this is one of the first thought that comes to your mind:

“As soon as spring comes around…”

While you could wait until the official start of spring (March 20th) to plant a flowering tree in your yard, that’s not necessarily the best option. Here’s why.

Planting trees in the typically milder, late winter Seattle conditions is an ideal time to get a flowering tree acclimated and ready for spring. Trees bloom in the greater Seattle area starting around late February to early summer. Planting early ensures the blooms happen in your landscape and not at the nursery.

But, if you wait until spring rolls around, what you’re going to miss out on is the flower buds on your new tree making their debut for a whole other year. The buds don’t have time to form, because the tree is focusing so heavily on getting out its new roots and growing leaves.

Ideally, wait until the weather is cool and bearable, before trees leave their dormancy season in spring, then plant. Planting well before bud break, but far enough away from the dark of winter so as not to damage the tree, will give your tree a great start and allow it enough time to get its buds ready for spring.

Next question you might ask yourself is what CAN be done for my yard? Well, here are a few of our picks for the most aesthetic flowering trees, to give you an idea you can apply to your own landscaping design:

– Cherry

Cherry trees are famous for their elegant blooms, most notably the ornamental variety such as Japanese cherry (Prunus serrulata). Its graceful flowers thrive in temperate climates of all kinds.

– Crabapple

The spring blossoms of this tree can bloom so heavily they hide entire branches of the tree. It is truly an amazing sight. The blossoms leave fruit behind them, keeping the colors from this tree on display sometimes even through winter.

– Flowering Pear

The flowering pear trees bloom as delicate as the craft paper its name resembles, and typically comes in small white flowers. This is a good year round tree as well; fall can bring a myriad of reds, oranges and yellows all on the same tree.

– Japanese Snowbell

A slower growing, ornamental tree, the Styrax japonica has a very rich scent, and is a perfect centerpiece for a yard.

– Flowering Dogwood

The flowering dogwood may have simple, small, green true flowers; but the bracts surrounding this tree are the ones that truly bring out the vibrant color of spring. This is another tree with excellent fall foliage as well.

– Goldenchain Tree

Spring finds this tree wearing chains of yellow blossoms, cascading down each branch. It’s a smaller tree, but can still capture the attention of a landscape. (Warning, this tree contains a compound that makes eating any part of it possibly fatal.)

– Horse Chestnut

This is a tree of pretty imposing size, but the flowers are really what capture attention. It’s a fast bloomer with bright and distinct flowers appearing in early spring. This is an excellent choice for a centerpiece if you have a large yard with a lot of space to work with.

– Magnolia

This is a very bold tree, with enormous white flowers that can reach up to 1 foot across. The equally large green leaves make this a true centerpiece to a yard if you’re willing to spend the time on it.

– Redbud

The redbud is one of the really great early bloomers, notable among others for its pink blossoms as contrasted to other early bloomer’s white blossoms (like serviceberry’s and pears). The flowers spring all over the tree, not only on the branches but also over the trunk, making it a really stunning display.

Given the above you can look at your yard and begin your design, and have a really beautiful spring landscape for the year.