Tree Selection Guide for South Carolina

What to Consider

Large Trees

Small Trees

What to Consider When Selecting Trees



Design and Aesthetics

Consider USE:

Where is the planting site located and what useful purpose will the tree serve?

Consider SITE:

What are the site limitations for tree growth?

During examination of the planting site, attention should be given to overhead utility lines, street lights, and business signs which may interfere with future tree growth. Oversized trees in such restricted spaces will require heavy pruning or unsightly topping. Good planning includes checking the planting site for space limitations on root, branch, and trunk growth and choosing the proper size tree for the planting site.


How well will the tree fit into the landscape? How will the tree affect the five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch?


Large Trees
(40' - 80')

or Evergreen
Ash, WhiteLawn and shadeFastDeciduousGrown best in moist, well-drained soils
Ash, GreenLawn and shadeFastDeciduousDisease resistant, upright form, non-fruiting (Marshall Seedless)
BaldcypressStreetside and walkwaysMediumDeciduousSuitable in poorly-drained sites, adapts to drought
Birch, RiverLawn and shadeFastDeciduousInteresting peeling bark, lower branches droop
BlackgumLawn and shadeSlowDeciduousPyramid shaped, oval leaves turn orange to bright scarlet in fall
Cedar, DeodarLawn and shadeFastEvergreenPyramidal form requires large planting area
Cypress, LeylandLawn and shadeFastEvergreenFast growing, makes excellent screen, useful as Christmas tree
Elm, Chinese(Lacebark)Lawn and shadeFastDeciduousFast-growing and hardy, handsome ornamnetal with showy bark
GinkgoStreetside and walkwaysSlowDeciduousMay require 20 years to attain mature form, male preferred
Honeylocust, 'Skyline'Streetside and walkwaysFastDeciduousThornless and fruitless variety, subject to borers
Linden, AmericanStreetside and walkways
Lawn and shade
MediumDeciduousDrought tolerant, large shade tree
Magnolia, SouthernLawn and shadeMediumEvergreenMaintain high organic content in soil, needs large growing space
Maple, RedLawn and shadeFastDeciduousProtect thin bark on young plants from injury, hardy plant
Maple, SugarLawn and shadeMediumDeciduousRecommended for planting in upper Piedmont and Mountains
Oak, ChestnutStreetside and walkwaysMediumDeciduousDrought resistant
Oak, Laurel (Darlington)Streetside and walkwaysFastDeciduous/EvergreenHandsome shade tree, semi-evergreen
Oak, LiveLawn and shadeMediumEvergreenBroad, spreading canopy, tolerant of soil compaction
Oak, PinLawn and shade
Streetside and walkways
FastDeciduousHardy, easily transplanted, holds brown leaves through winter
Oak, SawtoothLawn and shadeMediumDeciduousExcellent nut producer for urban wildlife
Oak, ScarletStreetside and walkwaysFastDeciduousExcellent multi-purpose tree, red fall color
Oak, WaterLawn and shadeMediumDeciduousSensitive to root disturbance, transplants easily
Oak, WhiteLawn and shadeSlowDeciduousMajestic, long-lived specimen, handsome light grey bark
Oak, WillowStreetside and walkwaysFastDeciduousExcellent multi-purpose tree, balanced shape
Palmetto, CabbageStreetside and walkwaysMediumEvergreenRecommended for coastal areas to lower Midlands, tropical look
PecanLawn and shadeSlowDeciduousBroad, open crown filters sunlight, brittle wood
Pine, LoblollyLawn and shadeFastEvergreenTolerates poor soil, use in mass as a buffer
Pine, LongleafLawn and shadeFastEvergreenIce/snow accumulates on needles, suitable for dry sandy soils
Pine, WhiteLawn and shadeFastEvergreenRecommended for planting in upper Piedmont and Mountains
Planetree, LondonStreetside and walkwaysFastDeciduousHardy, tolerant of city conditions, creamy colored peeling bark
Redcedar, EasternLawn and shadeMediumEvergreenMakes excellent buffer, tolerant of poor rocky soils
SweetgumStreetside and walkwaysMediumDeciduousSeed-balls may be nuisance, easily killed by spreading fill dirt around trunk and roots
SycamoreStreetside and walkwaysFastDeciduousCreamy white bark, leaf raking considered a nuisance
Tulip Poplar (Yellow Poplar)Lawn and shadeFastDeciduousProtect thin bark from injury, wood rots quickly, moist sites best
Zelkova, JapaneseStreetside and walkwaysMediumDeciduousShort trunk, spreading branches, disease resistant


Small Trees

or Evergreen
Cherry, KwanzanStreetside and walkwaysMediumDeciduousColorful double pink flowers
Cherry, WeepingLawn and shadeMediumDeciduousGraceful and airy, pink flowers
Cherry, YoshinoLawn and shadeFastDeciduousProlific flowering, most effective in front of evergreens
Crabapple, FloweringLawn and shadeMediumDeciduousApples in late summer can be messy, white, pink, or red flowers
CrapemyrtleStreetside and walkwaysFastDeciduousMultitrunked with white, pink, purple, or red flowers
Dogwood, FloweringStreetside and walkways
Lawn and shade
MediumDeciduousProtect from bark damage, large white blooms, red berries
Dogwood, KousaLawn and shadeMediumDeciduousWhite blooms in early summer, resistant to disease
Golden RaintreeStreetside and walkwaysMediumDeciduousShowy, yellow flowers, requires well-drained soil
Holly, AmericanStreetside and walkwaysSlowEvergreenBerries on female plants, spiny dark green leaves
Holly, Foster 'Hume #2'Lawn and shadeMediumEvergreenFew spines on leaves
Holly, Foster 'Savannah'Lawn and shadeMediumEvergreenExcellent fruiting
Holly, Foster 'Foster #2'Lawn and shadeMediumEvergreenStrongly upright form
LoquatLawn and shadeFastEvergreenInteresting espaliered plant, fragrant flowers in winter
Magnolia, SaucerLawn and shadeMediumDeciduousWhite to pink or purple flowers before leaves appear in spring
Maple, JapaneseLawn and shadeSlowDeciduousGrows best in part shade, color may be green to purple
Plum, PissardLawn and shadeMediumDeciduousBest growth in full sun, reddish purple foliage, light pink flowers
Redbud, EasternStreetside and walkways
Lawn and shade
MediumDeciduousDrought resistant, small purple flowers
SourwoodLawn and shadeSlowDeciduousWhite flowers in mid-summer, scarlet fall color
SweetbayLawn and shadeMediumEvergreenFragrant white flowers, thick green leaves
WaxmyrtleLawn and shadeMediumEvergreenEvergreen, combines well with junipers
YauponLawn and shadeMediumEvergreenMany red berries, hardy


Reference ResourcesUrban Forestry