Extension > Garden > Yard and Garden > Trees and shrubs > Recommended trees for Minnesota: An ecosystem approach > Northwest and central
Recommended trees for northwest and central Minnesota: An ecosystem approach
Trees shade and cool us in the summer, protect us from cold winter winds, supply us with clean air to breathe, beautify our communities and provide habitat for wildlife. Selecting the trees that will survive and grow into healthy urban forests requires a thorough analysis of the planting site and a careful match of the trees to that environment.
The Recommended Trees series recognizes that Minnesota is an ecologically diverse state. For this series, the state is divided into six major ecological regions, each with characteristic soils, precipitation patterns, topography, and natural vegetation. Recommended trees for each region perform reliably in that environment, and should thrive for many years.
Northwest and central Minnesota
Northwest Minnesota contains the Aspen Parklands ecological area and Central Minnesota contains the Hardwood Hills ecological area.
Aspen parklands. A low, level plain that is a transition zone between conifer peat bogs to the east and tallgrass prairie to the west. Soils range from loamy to gravelly, poor- to well-drained, and acidic to very alkaline. Originally, the area was vegetated by various types of prairies, aspen, silver maple, elm, cottonwood and ash.
Hardwood hills. Characterized by steep slopes, high hills and lakes, and acidic to alkaline, loamy soils. Presettlement vegetation ranged from tallgrass prairie to aspen, oak savannas, maple, basswood and other hardwood trees in fire-protected areas.
Recommended trees for northwest and central Minnesota
Recommended trees: Trees in these sections include species that have a history of performing well as street, boulevard, or landscape trees in general for Northwest and Central Minnesota.
Limited use: Trees in these sections may have some value in certain instances, such as unusually harsh planting sites, or for wildlife cover, but are not recommended for general use.
Trees to try: Trees in these sections have shown promise in landscapes or as street trees, but either do not have a long history of use in Northwest and Central Minnesota or require specific siting requirements such as wind protection or acidic soils. Use caution until their performance is better documented.
Trees to use with caution: Trees in these sections either have chronic problems with growing and overall health, such as damaging diseases or site intolerances, or are not reliably hardy to the area; e.g., they are out of their natural cold hardiness zone. Use these trees with moderation in very well-prepared landscape sites with regular maintenance or well-protected micro-climates.