Great Design Plant: Sweet Gum
Distinguishing traits: Reliable large-scale deciduous tree looks good all year, hits its peak with fall color display – a collage of mixed yellows, oranges, reds -- closer to Christmas than Thanksgiving. Big lobed leaves look like maple leaves. How to use it: Its tall and upright form will fit into a garden’s background. Mature specimens, pruned to spread (see below), make nice shade trees. Will grow in lawn but surface roots can create annoying bumps. Plant several together form a grove or in rows for a screen. Before you plant it: Easy to grow, but you’ll need to prune a tree early in life to develop strong upright shape: pinch back side branches. Remove lower branches if you want more of a round top. Don’t plant close to pavement; roots can lift it up. Be prepared to rake up spiny balls of seeds through much of the year.