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Colorful fall in your yard

Whether or not you live in an area of colorful sugar maples, there are many landscape plants that can provide wonderful fall colors around your home and yard.

If using shrubs or small trees, try a grouping of several. If large trees, one may be all that is needed or that you have room for. Keep in mind the mature size of woody plants when buying them in nurseries, and space appropriately when planting. Improper spacing (usually too close) and you'll be pruning in a few years, plants will grow together so won't realize their final shape and potential, and if near a building or walk may overtake these. An exception to planting close is if you want to establish a hedge.

If using a grouping and low shrubs or trees, keep in mind they may look good against a dark-colored wall or evergreen hedge. Make sure you plant in soil suited for the plant. Try not to plant where snow and ice, or winter road salt, may damage plants. All of the following are hardy to at least USDA zone 4 (-20 to -30 degrees F) in winter.

For vines, such as to climb on fences, consider American bittersweet for yellow fall leaves. This one can be vigorous and choke out other plants. Another vigorous vine, this one with red fall leaves, is Virginia creeper. As with many fall leaves, this one shows brighter colors in sun. Boston ivy turns dark red in fall in sun, yellowish-red in shade. While bittersweet climbs by twining, and Virginia creeper by tendrils, Boston ivy has tendril discs that make an adhesive that holds to walls but can rot wooden structures.

A couple of groundcovers, both with reddish leaves, are the bear berry and lowbush blueberry. For small shrubs under four feet high, consider some Spirea cultivars (cultivated varieties) generally with yellow fall leaves except for reddish Japanese sprireas. As with many plants, it may be best to buy them in fall so you can see for yourself what actual colors they produce. Yellowroot has brilliant red and gold fall color.

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