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Top 5 Best Trees to Plant That Thrive in Utah’s Climate

Here are the best trees to plant in Utah.

Even though they’ve barely started to bud, the time to plant a tree is now. Take a look around your neighborhood and you’ll see that some trees have thrived over the years, while others struggle to take root. It all comes down to the type of tree you plant. We need trees that are tolerant to our soil, temperature, and drought-like conditions.

Sheriden Hansen, USU Extension Horticulturalist, shares the top five trees that thrive in Utah’s conditions. Even in a drought trees are worth planting because they add shade, add landscape interest, purify the air, add privacy, and reduce air temperature.

The USU TREE BROWSER is an excellent resource for selecting trees in Utah.


Best Trees to Plant in Your Yard

Qualities to Look for When Selecting a Tree

Water conserving: “This is going to be the big story with landscapes in the coming years. Water is precious resource for us, so trees that do well in arid conditions will have the best chance at thriving,” says Sheriden.

Tolerate heavier, alkaline soil: Our soil has a lot of calcium in it and can have a high pH, so trees like many of the maples are poor choices because they can’t tolerate these conditions

Temperature tolerant to your zone

Require the appropriate amount of light for where you want to plant them

5 Trees Sheriden Recommends

Japanese Zelkova

Kentucky Coffeetree

Japanese Tree Lilac

Bigtooth Maple

Bur Oak


When planting a tree, Sheriden has a few tips:

Watch the water around the root ball carefully as the tree establishes. You may need to water every other day to every three days as the tree starts to establish.

Make sure you plant at the correct height. We want to see the trunk flare just above the soil line. Trees often come from the nursery already planted too deep, so pull back the soil so that you see the root flare sitting above the soil line.

Make sure if the tree is grafted that the graft union is above the soil line.

1 comment

  • I planted a green vase zelkova and it seems to be doing fine. I want to plant another tree in my front yard, which has sandy soil. Should I try a Japanese or stick with green vase?