16 Trees and Shrubs to Plant to Add Fall Colors in Your Dallas Landscape

fall tree and shrubs

Crisp apple reds, deep burnt oranges, and golden yellows are the glorious colors we all love to see in the autumn season! The changing of the seasons is one of the most beautiful spectacles of the natural world. People often travel great distances to see the places with the best show of fall colors, BUT there is an easier way to experience the joy of fall colors!

Instead of driving around to look for the bright red trees and deep orange shrubs of the season – plant them in your own yard!

We’ve compiled a list of 16 trees and shrubs that will create a kaleidoscope of fall colors in your Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) landscape. Plant a few of these trees or shrubs, and before long, your yard will be the place people travel to see festive fall leaves.

1. Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus)

This shrub’s fall foliage is so beautiful that the plant was named for it! The leaves of the Burning Bush turn a bright flame red in autumn. This shrub will be sure to stand out in your fall landscape.

  • Mature Size: 4-20′ tall, 5-10′ spread.
  • Shade/Sun Preference: Full sun.
  • Soil Preference: Well-drained soil.
  • Leaf Color: Dark green in spring and summer change to glowing reds in fall.

Tips: For best fall colors, plant in full sun.

2. Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)

Sugar Maples are absolute landscape beauties in the fall time. Their usually deep green leaves change into gorgeous reds, burnt oranges, and yellows for the season. This maple is sure to stand out in your landscape as an impressive display of fall colors.

  • Mature Size: 60-75′ tall, 40′-50′ spread.
  • Shade/Sun Preference: Full sun, tolerates partial shade.
  • Soil Preference: Well-drained, moderately moist soil.
  • Leaf Color: Medium to dark-green leaves turn red, orange, and yellow in fall.

Tips: While choosing a planting site, be sure to avoid crowding the tree and provide plenty of room for root growth.

3. Japanese Red Maple (Acer palmatum)

Japanese Maples are well-known for providing vibrant fall colors to landscapes. Although this tree is obviously native to Japan, it can thrive in your DFW landscape if given proper care.

  • Mature Size: 15-25′ tall, 20′ spread.
  • Shade/Sun Preference: Partial shade.
  • Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil.
  • Leaf Color: In spring, leaves will be red. In summer, leaves can be reddish-purple or green depending on sun and irrigation. In fall, expect beautiful shades of vivid red, orange, and yellow. 

Tips: Certain varieties of this plant will be highly sensitive to DFW heat, so plant your Japanese maple under cover of larger shady trees. However, if you want your maple to stay reddish-purple all through summer (instead of changing to green), provide this tree with access to a couple hours of sun early in the morning and water deeply every 3-5 days in the summer.

4. Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quericifolia)

This shrub has long been a fall fan favorite in North Texas. The Oakleaf Hydrangea boasts lovely clusters of white blooms in summer and beautiful burgundy fall foliage. 

  • Mature Size: 3-6′ tall, 6-8′ spread.
  • Shade/Sun Preference: Shade.
  • Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil.
  • Leaf Color: Leaves are green, and spring’s greenish flowers will bloom and turn white in summer. In autumn, leaves may turn gold to red, and flowers become purple and remain well into winter. 

Tips: Plant these shrubs at the base of large, shady trees to avoid leaf scorch and excess wilting.

5. Bradford Pear (Pyrus calleryana)

This round-shaped tree is sure to be a landscape show-stopper! This tree puts on a glorious display of bright red and orange foliage in the autumn.

  • Mature Size: 20-30′ tall, 15-25′ spread.
  • Shade/Sun Preference: Full sun.
  • Soil Preference: Well-drained soil.
  • Leaf Color: Lovely displays of thick, white blooms in spring. Beautiful and bright red and orange leaf colors in the autumn.

Tips: Prune low branches in winter as they can easily be damaged by ice.

6. Red Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia)

The fall foliage of the Red Chokeberry is both a gorgeous sight of vibrant shades of red and a healthy snack of edible berries. This Aronia is frequently used as an ornamental shrub because it shines in several seasons.

  • Mature Size: 6-10′ tall, 3-5′ spread.
  • Shade/Sun Preference: Partial sun.
  • Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil
  • Leaf Color: In spring, Aronia is covered in blossoms of white flowers. In summer, leaves are medium green to dark green, and purplish-black fruits develop. Leaves and fruit both turn a vibrant red in fall, and the reds remain for quite some time before falling.

Tips: The chokeberry's fruit berries are not only edible but considered a superfruit by some. In fact, these berries have been shown to have more antioxidants than any other berry!

7. Dogwoods (Cornus)

Dogwoods are beautiful year-round, presenting beautiful flower-like blooms in spring and turning vibrant, crimson-red in fall. Planting dogwoods will make your landscape the “talk of the neighborhood” every season.

  • Mature Size: The average dogwood grows to a height of around 25′ and has a similar spread.
  • Shade/Sun Preference: Tolerates partial sun and shade.
  • Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil.
  • Leaf Color: In spring, lovely white, pink, or red blooms that look like flowers. In the summer, expect green leaves. Autumn will bring gorgeous deep red shades. In winter, leaves will drop, and tiny fruit buds arrive.

Tips: Plant in the shadow of larger trees for access to morning sun and afternoon shade.

8. Red Oak (Quercus Shumardii)

Red Oaks are beautiful, stately trees that provide ample shade and gorgeous fall colors.

  • Mature Size: 50-90′ tall, 60-70′ spread.
  • Shade/Sun Preference: Full sun.
  • Soil Preference: Moderately dry and deep soil.
  • Leaf Color: The green leaves of spring and summer will change to yellow and finally scarlet in fall.

Tips: Be aware that this tree will drop tassels and acorns in the spring months.

9. Smoke Bush (Cotinus coggygria)

The Smoke Bush will shine in your landscape from the growing season all the way through autumn. Spring and summertime blooms make way to yellow, orange, or purplish-red leaves in fall, depending on the variety. 

  • Mature Size: 8-20′ tall, up to 15′ spread.
  • Shade/Sun Preference: Full sun, partial sun.
  • Soil Preference: Moist but well-drained soil
  • Leaf Color: In spring and summer, the Smoke Bush’s oval leaves vary in shades of purple, gold, and green. In autumn, they turn yellow, orange, or purplish-red, depending on the variety. 

Tips: Plant in full sun to enhance foliage.

10. Sweet Gum (Liquidambar styraciflua)

The glorious autumn colors that are found on Sweet Gums are tough to beat. In fall, these trees display a treasure trove of blended red, orange, and yellow leaves.

  • Mature Size: 50-60′ tall, 20-30′ spread.
  • Shade/Sun Preference: Sun, partial shade
  • Soil Preference: well-drained soil
  • Leaf Color: Star-shaped leaves that are green through spring and summer, but in autumn change into a glorious blend of fall reds and oranges.

Tips: Although the Sweet Gum produces some of the best fall colors, be aware that this tree also grows round, spiked seed balls that can be a nuisance for pets and people to walk on after they drop.

11. Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum)


The Bald Cypress is a stately tree that displays soft, feathery needles that turn rust-red in autumn.

  • Mature Size: 60-70′ tall, 20-35′ spread.
  • Shade/Sun Preference: Full sun.
  • Soil Preference: Prefers moist or wet soil.
  • Leaf Color: Green needles in spring and summer. Rust-colored needles in autumn and all needles will drop for winter.

Tips: This tree produces 'knees' or stumps around the base, and it prefers wet conditions, so planting in low-lying areas or around streams and ponds is ideal.

12. Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica)

The flower blooms of Virginia Sweetspires open from base to tip, so these shrubs appear to bloom for months.

  • Mature Size: 3-8′ tall.
  • Shade/Sun Preference: Full sun, partial shade.
  • Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil.
  • Leaf Color: In spring and summer, leaves will be green, and fragrant flowers will bloom. Leaves turn reddish-purple in fall and remain well into winter.

Tips: This simple-to-grow shrub is best planted in groups, as a single Virginia Sweetspire can look slightly underwhelming.

13. Nandina (Nandina domestica)

Even though Nandina’s are considered an invasive species, they are often planted in North Texas landscapes. This evergreen shrub is popular in the area because it’s tough, adaptable, and attractive throughout the seasons.

  • Mature Size: 4-10′ tall, 3-5′ spread.
  • Shade/Sun Preference: Tolerates sun or shade.
  • Soil Preference: Moist but well-drained soil.
  • Leaf Color: Lettuce-green leaves in spring and summer. Foliage turns red in fall, and the color remains red throughout fall and winter. Red berries in winter.

Tips: Plant in full or partial sun to enhance the color of foliage.

14. Cedar Elm (Ulmus crassifolia)

The Cedar Elm is native to Texas and well-known for being an excellent shade provider and for its beautiful fall colors.

  • Mature Size: 30-75′ tall, 40-60′ spread.
  • Shade/Sun Preference: Full sun, tolerates partial shade.
  • Soil Preference: Moist soil.
  • Leaf Color: In spring and summer, the small leaves of the Cedar Elm are dark green. Leaves turn beautiful shades of yellow and gold in fall.

Tips: These trees are excellent  shade cover, so plant where your property or garden will benefit most from the shade.

15. Pin Oak (Quercus palustris)

The Pin Oak tree has a compact, graceful appearance. It is a popular lawn tree due to its slender form, hardiness, and lovely fall foliage.

  • Mature Size: 60-70′ tall, 40′ spread. 
  • Shade/Sun Preference: Sun.
  • Soil Preference: Prefers moist or wet soil conditions.
  • Leaf Color: Dark green leaves in spring and summer. In fall, the leaves turn dark red, and leaves will remain well into winter.

Tips: The Pin Oak is intolerant of alkaline soils. It is susceptible to iron chlorosis, which causes leaf yellowing and tree death.

16. Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

Not only does Witch Hazel present a lovely fall display of gold and yellow leaves, but this plant is also pleasantly aromatic. The golden-yellow flowers that bloom on Witch Hazel in the fall emit a lovely, spicy autumn scent.

  • Mature Size: 8-15′ tall.
  • Shade/Sun Preference: Partial sun, partial shade.
  • Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soil.
  • Leaf Color: Leaves will remain green in spring and summer. Leaves will turn golden-yellow in autumn, and flowers also release a spicy scent when they bloom in the fall.

Tips: Planting your Witch Hazel in full sun has shown to increase blossoming and brighten fall colors.

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