Tree Care Services of Vancouver, WA and Portland, OR

5 Best Trees to Plant in Washington

By AK Timber in Planting

Washington has a bit of a tricky climate when it comes to growing trees. Between the wind, the water, and the problems that can sometimes arise with trees, many people are a bit reluctant to plant their own trees. Instead, they rely on the trees that are already in place or they just accept the fact that they don’t have trees and move on – but it doesn’t have to be that way. Trees are gorgeous additions to our yards, adding pops of color, scents, and texture that you can’t get anywhere else.

These trees also don’t have a lot of maintenance requirements or “special attention” for them to grow. Instead, you just have to let them be, do some pruning, and maybe water them from time to time if we are going through a particularly dry patch. Other than that, you can just enjoy the beauty and freshness that comes with them:

5. Douglas Fir

A group of Douglas Fir trees.

Credit: Tom Appel

  • Requires little water in Washington’s climate
  • Grows very quickly
  • Can be grown in full sun or part shade

Conifers grow extremely well within the Washington climate. While many people think of Douglas Fir as a tree that you’d only see around the holiday season, they can be extremely beautiful and bring that delicious scent to your yard year round. Some families will even plant Douglas Fir seedlings and then watch them grow to the perfect size for a Christmas tree so that they can cut it down.

According to Arbor Day, “the Douglas Fir grows to a height of 40–70′ and a spread of 12–20′ at maturity.” They will live for a long time, however, so once you plant them, you will have a tree for life if you don’t cut them down for Christmas.

4. Japanese Red Pine

A group of Japanese Red Pines at full height.

Credit: Shizhao

  • Requires little watering once it has been established
  • Grows extremely quickly
  • Prefers to grow in full sun

You might also find that the Japanese Red Pine will grow extremely well in your yard. These trees are great for people who want extremely large trees that grow quickly at first and then taper off – they’ll reach heights of 100 feet. According to the University of Connecticut, these trees can actually look like they are fake or plastic because they are so beautiful and so symmetrical with very little work.

Still, don’t expect to see ornamental flowers like some people expect – you’ll get beautiful leaves and very little debris from this one. Every two years or so, you can expect the cones to drop, so there will be some cleaning.

3. English Laurel

The flowers on an English Laurel tree.

Credit: Karduelis

  • Requires watering
  • Grows quickly when planted in warmer seasons
  • Prefers full sun

If you are looking for privacy shrubs or just something that can be manicured to look absolutely perfect, the English Laurel is a great shrub choice for the Washington area. It has dense branches and beautiful green leaves that withstand some drought, though are better looking and easier to maintain when watered. The tiny flowers have a sweet fragrance that carries in the wind. If you live on the water, these are the choice shrubs because they withstand salt water.

According to Washington State University, they grow extremely well in groups, making them perfect for screens or separation. Note that these will require some pruning in order to get the best physical appearance.

2. Empress Tree

Mid-sized Empress Tree.

Credit: Jean-Pol GRANDMONT

  • Requires occasional watering, especially in drier times
  • Extremely fast growth rate
  • Grows well in partial shade or sun

Empress trees are a unique strain of trees that have been carefully cultivated over the years to be one of the most beautiful trees in the world. Growing 10 to 20 feet per year according to Home Guides, they top out at 50 feet within the first decade. The reason many people love this unique tree is because the leaves grow to 2-3 feet in size.

Note that they do have an extremely large root system, so it is best for yards that have more expansive space. You don’t want to grow them too near the road or sidewalks or the root system can come up and ruin them. Still, if you have the space it is absolutely worth it.

1. Weeping Willow

  • Grows better near water or when watered
    Willow Tree growing near lake.

    Credit: Bruce Marlin

  • In right conditions, grows quickly
  • Requires sun or partial shade to grow

One of the most dramatic and beautiful trees to grow in Washington, the Weeping Willow has been a favorite for so many people over the years. In many areas, a Willow tree will provide food for rabbits, beavers, and big game such as deer. The yellow flowers it produces are absolutely gorgeous and do extremely well when pressed or dried. Note that this tree is more of a “spreader” than it is a grower – it will often take up 40″ of space in a yard, according to the National Arbor Day Foundation.

If you have very little luck with growing trees, consider a Weeping Willow because it is very difficult for it to go wrong. Kids love Weeping Willows as well because they are fun to play in and hide around – just be careful – we all remember getting hit with one of those branches.

At the end of the day, Washington’s climate makes it a great location for tree lovers to try new trees, cultivate brand new types of trees, and even work with trees that harder to grow. For the common person, however, you can plant any of the above trees without having to worry too much about maintenance or keeping up with the debris clean up. One thing to note is that in order to get the most out of your trees, you should have them inspected regularly, trimmed when necessary, and treated for any diseases or pests. If you think your trees aren’t growing as they could, or you want them to look better, give AK Timber Service a call at

If you think your trees aren’t growing as they could, or you want them to look better, give AK Timber Service a call at (360) 635-1076. Our team of professionals can help you with everything from tree planting to cabling, from tree removal to brush and land clearing to make room for your next beautiful plant.

Header photo courtesy of Tom Britt on Flickr!