Brighten Your Yard with Colorful Fall Trees

Who doesn’t enjoy watching the trees change color in the fall? It’s so popular, the Minnesota DNR even releases fall color maps throughout the season. Most deciduous trees drop their leaves before winter sets in, with quite a lot of color variation between the species.

As the weather cools and the amount of sunlight decreases, trees start to go dormant. As they begin this process, they break down the chlorophyll in their leaves and move it back into the branches, allowing the leaves’ other pigments to come through. Thus, we get the yellows, browns, golds, oranges, and reds of autumn.

If you’re looking to add brilliant fall color to your yard, try incorporating some of these trees and shrubs into your landscape.


American and European beech trees are great options if you want color later into the fall. They turn color after many other trees and hold onto their leaves longer. This is a downside only if you like to complete your fall clean-up earlier in the season. Otherwise, you can enjoy their beauty even after other trees have dropped all their leaves. As an added bonus, beech trees bear edible nuts, which you can harvest for yourself or leave for local wildlife. They also have beautiful bark, which will provide interest even into the winter.

Leaf Color: Yellow-gold

Height: 50-70 feet


Blueberry bushes provide striking fall color. Because this is a fruiting plant, it produces flowers in spring. Blueberry bushes can also be used as a hedge plant, if you’re looking for a unique way to add more fruit-bearing plants to your landscape. The berries are great for snacking or making pies, and can attract local wildlife.

Leaf Color: Yellow, orange, or deep red

Height: 1-4 feet, depending on variety


Red-twig dogwoods provide interest in every season. In spring they produce clusters of white flowers, in summer they have fruit (ranging in color from white to red-purple and bright green leaves, in fall the leaves turn purple-red, and in winter their namesake red twigs are on display. “Arctic Fire” is a popular variety around here, common in curb appeal plantings. The fruit can attract wild birds, a bonus for birdwatchers.

Leaf Color: Purple-red

Height: 3-4 feet (other varieties can be twice as tall)


Gingko trees are unlike anything else on earth, having been around in some capacity for 200 million years. Though they are more closely related to conifers than deciduous trees, gingkos do have fan-shaped leaves that drop in the winter. These trees are commonly used in urban areas, as they are fairly drought-resistant, can handle pollution, and can live for a long time.

Leaf Color: Yellow-gold

Height: Up to 80 feet, but usually around 40-50 feet

Quaking Aspen

This hardy tree can be found throughout Minnesota. Aside from their striking fall color, quaking aspens are known for how their leaves shake in the breeze. The sound produced can be relaxing, especially if you plant more than one (or just wait long enough, and you may find yourself with a grove of “cloned” trees).

Leaf Color: Yellow-gold

Height: 50 feet

Red Oak

The red oak is just one variety of oak tree that can be found in Minnesota, and can produce a wide range of fall color. Oaks are unique in that the leaves eventually do turn to brown and stay on through winter, finally dropping in the spring as new buds begin to emerge. The trees’ acorns provide food for a wide variety of wildlife.

Leaf Color: Yellow, orange, red, or russet

Height: 60-75 feet

River Birch

Also known as black birch, these beautiful trees grow well in wet areas, hence the “river” birch name. Their distinctive curling bark has a cinnamon-colored hue to it, differentiating it from the paper and yellow birches. This bark makes the river birch a popular choice in landscape design, providing interest all year long.

Fall Color: Yellow

Height: 40-70 feet

Sugar Maple

Just about every list of trees for great fall color includes the sugar maple, and for good reason. Maples’ colors can change from green to yellow, to orange, to red all in one season, highlighting the best aspects of these sturdy, dynamic trees. An added bonus to planting sugar maples is that you just may be able to make syrup from their sap. It’s an involved process, but so tasty in the end.

Leaf Color: Yellow, orange, or red

Height: 60-75 feet


Sumac is very easy to grow, and does well in larger yards where it’s allowed to spread. This shrub can be used for erosion control, so if you have a steep slope, it may be just the thing for your yard. Be sure to buy sumac from a nursery rather than transplanting it from a roadside, as you don’t want to risk accidentally planting poison sumac instead.

Leaf Color: Red

Height: 15 feet

Ready to add bright fall color to your yard? The experts at KG Landscape are happy to help you come up with a new landscaping plan. Give us a call at 763-568-7251 or use our quick quote system to get in touch today.