Several native small maturing trees can add to the beauty of any landscape without taking away large amounts of space for lawns, small vegetable gardens or flower beds.

Planting native plants has become popular for several reasons. Many are well adapted to our area and often under-used because they are so commonplace. Two trees that should be on your list are dogwood and redbud trees. Both are native, and if your neighbor has either you might get some free plants by way of natural seeding.

This happened at my house several years ago as a small redbud tree emerged one summer in the middle of a perennial flower bed. The bed had been in place for more than five years and beginning to be affected by the shade of several tall pine trees nearby, so many sun loving annuals and perennial flowers were declining. The redbud tree was allowed to stay and matured into a nice specimen that provide spring colorful flowers and bright yellow heart shaped leaves each fall. Wild iris plants have continued to bloom in the shade of the tree.

I also received another small tree in a narrow bed along my driveway going into the garage. This time it was a dogwood tree. Now, after 8-10 years, it provides a grand show of bright white flowers to the narrow strip going into my garage. It requires a small amount of light pruning to remove stray branches to raise its crown for vehicle movement into the garage but its flower show was outstanding this spring. Fifteen feet away is another seed produced tree. It is a small Japanese maple tree also of seed origin that is now about eight feet tall. It has bright green leaves that turn red in the fall.

As I ramble on you might ask where I am going with this tree narrative. These three trees mentioned are not large maturing trees in the landscape so they can be incorporated into small spaces in the landscape without the likelihood of growing too large for their space in the future. Those that come up from seed allows the gardener to add new trees without the larger expense of purchasing and planting expensive trees.

Favorite flowering trees such as red bud, dogwood, Japanese maples and other flowering trees highlight landscapes with color at various times during the year. The red foliage of many cultivars of Japanese maple is a local favorite too. These and other colorful spring and fall favorites always inspire others to add new trees to landscapes. If you have questions about trees or other landscape plants you can call me at 864-223-3264 or stop by the extension office off East Cambridge below the old Brewer School Gym.

James Hodges is a Clemson Extension agent in Greenwood County. He can be reached at 864-223-3264.