A recent article from the Detroit News highlighted a new initiative by the state of Michigan to help combat climate change.

The initiative was originally launched on Arbor Day of this year and has been named the Mi Trees campaign. The goal? To plant 50 million trees across the state by 2030. It's a hefty goal which is why they are encouraging Michigan residents to plant trees wherever they have room. Read more here.

The obvious next question might be, "Okay...but what trees do I plant?" As someone who has the opposite of a green thumb (what would that be...a brown thumb?), it's a reasonable question especially if you're a new homeowner or someone just unfamiliar with the local flora.

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Thankfully, a website called thegardeningdad.com has a great guide. Here are the 5 best trees to plant in your Southwest Michigan yard:


1. Oak Tree

Photo by Dominik Van Opdenbosch on Unsplash
Photo by Dominik Van Opdenbosch on Unsplash
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According to The Gardening Dad, Oak Trees are low-maintenance and grow fairly quickly. They tolerate pollution, pretty much any type of soil, and thrive in both hot and cold conditions. However, he goes on to warn that placement of these trees is key especially if you're worried about the root system damaging the foundation of your house. Here's a quick tutorial of how to plant one should you decide to:

2. Japanese Lilac Tree 

Via/ Youtube
Via/ Youtube
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Much like the oak tree, The Gardening Dad says that the Japanese Lilac Tree is very low-maintenance. Unlike the Oak Tree, they're great for smaller areas. Aside from pruning for size control, the Japanese Lilac Tree requires very little water and is not prone to disease. However, they do require direct sunlight and need well-draining soil. Learn more about the Japanese Lilac Tree below:

3. Crabapple Tree 

Photo by Jael Coon on Unsplash
Photo by Jael Coon on Unsplash
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Driving around SW Michigan in the Spring, it's hard to miss the vibrant blooms on the local trees. Those are usually Crabapple Trees. The Gardening Dad says these are especially great to plant in your yard if you have nearby fruit trees because they're great cross pollinators. Plus, they're apparently very easy to grow. Keep in mind that there are different types of Crabapple Trees. Learn more below:

4. Fir Tree 

Photo by Stephen Paterson on Unsplash
Photo by Stephen Paterson on Unsplash
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Like many on his list, The Gardening Dad says Fir Trees are low-maintenance. They provide privacy and even help with noise pollution. They also do well in warm or cold conditions. Plus, during Michigan's winter, it'll look like Christmas in your yard every single day. If you're wondering about rate of growth, this Youtube video specifically points out the difference between a newer Fir Tree and one that was planted years earlier:

5. Chestnut Tree

Photo by Hansjörg Keller on Unsplash
Photo by Hansjörg Keller on Unsplash
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According to The Gardening Dad, a mature Chestnut Tree can produce 100 pounds of nuts which is great if you're looking for a tree that provides food. They love heat and humidity and can grow to over 50 feet tall. However, make sure you avoid watering it too much as that could kill it. In the past, the Chestnut Tree was nearly eradicated in the U.S. by a blight of fungus. But, they've been working to bring it back. Learn more below:


The Gardening Dad goes on to list an additional five trees that would be great for your Michigan yard. See them all here. Additionally, michigan.gov has some recommendations if you're looking to specifically attract wildlife to your yard. Read more here.

So, you've learned all about the trees. Now, where to buy them? The Kalamazoo area alone has several nurseries that locals absolutely love. Check it out:

While you're digging in your yard, keep a sharp eye out. You never know what you might discover like this Michigan treasure hunter who found Civil War-era buttons hidden in the soil:

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