My yard is empty, barren, in need of color. Shortly after I bought my home on the west end, I found out that our yard had several trees that were infested with bugs.  No big deal, or at least that's what I thought until I had an arborist come out. The trees could not be saved; we ended up having to cut down nine trees.  So, when I say my yard is baren and needs color - it's no joke.  I really need to plant some trees. My wife sent me a quote that is credited to an anonymous Chinese philosopher, that says, "The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago.  The second best time is today."  That makes a lot of sense!  But, it begs the question, Which trees grow best in Billings, Montana? I have some criteria:

1. At least one of the trees must grow fast. I am 51 years old. I don't want to wait until I can't see or walk before it throws off any shade.
2. They must be colorful in the spring, summer, and fall.  This is my wife's requirement. I want to save on cooling bills and she wants our yard to be pretty. This stipulation must be satisfied.
3. Absolutely NO pine trees. We already have two in our yard, and our neighbors on both sides of our home have a ton of pine trees.  Yes, I know, they are green year-round. Great, but they all look the same. We need some variety.

With this list in mind, I went to the internet and looked for these characteristics. Fortunately, Billings is a great place to grow trees. You can grow almost any variety. Here are a couple of my favorites with pictures credited to fastgrowingtrees.com.

The American Sycamore Tree

This tree grows very fast and is a great shade tree. and it could definitely be the centerpiece of my yard.  It grows to a whopping 75 to 100 feet tall.  It will take a bit of work because it sheds plenty of leaves, but it is worth it.  I have a really nice leaf blower that I'm actually looking forward to using!

Autumn Blaze Flowering Pear Tree

This tree has all of the colors and changes with the season.  It is pictured above in the spring and in the fall it turns red.  Once my wife pointed out the need to have a variety of colors in various trees, I've really taken notice.  She has a good point!  You can see many of these on the streets and yards of Billings, Montana and they really are pretty throughout the seasons.  A couple of these in the corners of my yard will be beautiful.  Here is what the tree looks like in the fall, those white flowers turn into green leaves and the cool weather evolves them into these red leaves before they fall to the ground.

The Sugar Maple Tree

On the top of the berm where my now gone, bug-infested pine trees once stood will be a Sugar Maple Tree.  These grow very fast and will set off the property nicely.  It grows to at least 60' tall and will be perfect for some privacy from the neighbors.  Again, the Sugar Maple Tree will not disappoint every fall as the leaves turn colors.

The Japanese Maple Tree

The key for the Japanese Maple is to be sure it has shade.  It can't take the heat, so I'm putting it next to the house on the shady side.  There is plenty of variety and colors to choose from in this category.  My yard needs at least two Japanese Maple Trees.  These have cool-looking leaves, and I like that they will grow close to the house in the shady spots.

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Front yard curb appeal will increase the value of my home, save me money in energy costs, and make my wife very happy.  It is a perfect plan.  I will definitely get help from a landscaper to determine how far apart they need to be and where they can be placed.  I don't claim to be an expert arborist.  I am surprised at how much trees add to the appearance of the house. It's a night and day difference!

I learned about from fastgrowingtrees.com.  You can get any of these at most Billings, Montana Nurseries, and from your local landscape specialist.

Remember:  "THE BEST TIME TO PLANT A TREE WAS 20 YEARS AGO.  THE SECOND BEST TIME IS NOW." -Chinese Proverb

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