Researching Native Trees of Georgia

Last week officially started the first step of the seemingly insurmountable task of making our property our own: removing invasive species. Most of our yard is english ivy, privet, vinca and nandinas. I’m sure we’ll find more as we go along.

Our first endeavor has been unearthing our patio. Not because we care for the patio very much, but because it is the smallest patch of ivy we have to start with. As of this writing, the patio is 90 percent clear (it started drizzling). Not bad progress, but it’s been dull enough that I have begun looking to the future to occupy my mind.

The focus of this transformation from random scraggly lot to something we like is going to have a focus on native plants (xeriscaping).Whatever is non-invasive and unobjectionable will probably just get moved to the sidelines, but everything else is coming out and will therefore need to be replaced. We also have several landscaping goals, though they are pretty standard.

The first and foremost is to establish an evergreen perimeter, most especially to block the wintertime views of the neighbors’ shed, the other neighbors’ boat, a full-scale plantation-style playhouse a few houses down and the backs of the houses on the next street over.

So I’ve been exploring our native Georgia evergreen tree options: southern magnolia (how iconic), Canadian hemlock, southern wax myrtle and redbay. The wax myrtle will probably be a good fit for our needs, as it is tolerant of shade and a fast-grower. I find the redbay interesting because it is endangered, a host plant for butterflies and its leaves are very similar to the bay leaves typically used in cooking. I’ll have to do a little more research to see if it will thrive on our soil.

However, we’d also like some beauty and interest as well (who doesn’t). So I’m looking at deciduous native trees as well. Here are my favorites so far:

Red Buckeye (image source)

Carolina Silverbell (image source)

American Yellowwood (image by Tom Gill)
Fringe Tree or Grancy-Greybeard (image source)
American Hop-hornbeam or Ironwood (image source)

How beautiful! I can’t wait to get the decisions and landscaping underway. If only there weren’t hours of pulling, digging and bagging between me and the fun part.

Does anyone have any favorite native species in their garden? Or any negative experiences with the species I mentioned above? I’ll be sharing my thoughts on native shrubs, flowers and lawn-replacement options in the future.


Nerd. Foodie. Gamer. Homecook. Perpetual planner. Gardener. Aspiring homesteader. Direct response graphic designer. I use too many damn commas.

2 thoughts on “Researching Native Trees of Georgia

  1. A wonderful, fast-growing evergreen native Ga tree (that also feeds the birds in winter) is the American Holly tree. I have successfully transplanted one that I love, and many have grown on the outskirts of our yard as ‘volunteer’ shrubs. They are dense and make a thick, protective ‘fence’ . Not sure offhand just how tall they ultimately grow, but mine looks to be 15 – 20 feet tall so far! I just love it, and yes i actually do talk to my trees from time to time, LOL.. especially early Spring and late Summer.
    Redbud trees aren’t evergreen, but they are sooo sweet native GA trees with heart-shaped leaves and small, pink, sweet-pea type springtime flowers. I had one in my yard that I loved , but it died despite my attempts to save it a couple years ago- so I have collected seeds from a displaced stray and will attempt propagating 2 of my own “Love-trees” this year (if I can actually FIND those seeds!.. why do things always disappear into nowhere, after I’ve so painstakingly attempted to salvage them? I KNOW they were in a labeled ziploc bag, in the fridge…)
    Another must-have plant for me. though not a tree, is lots of milkweed plants to fortify and attract the beloved Monarch Butterflies as they travel through our yard. I only see a few Monarchs each year, but remain hopeful that the number will increase eventually. (Of course those seeds have run off with the Redbud seeds, so I’ll have to order more from my original source if they don’t turn up soon.)
    I have spent lots of time identifying trees, plants, and birds in my yard with my Audobon guides, and saved seeds from some (my Tulip Poplar tree is a favorite success!), and have planted lots of edible landscape plants for the birds: Blueberry, White Mulberry, Autumn Olive, some kind of cherry bush( that took 10 years or more to really grow but is finally thriving!), and American Holly.
    If you would like me to send some seeds or cuttings (with or without rooting hormone), let me know! 🙂

    • Terri, that sounds great. I have more redbud seedlings than I can possibly keep – how about we swap?!

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