Tree Shapes 101: A Complete Guide

Trees offer many benefits to any yard or landscaping project. Besides visual appeal, trees provide properties with fresh air, natural light, and the occasional fruits. However, you’ll want to keep tree shapes in mind when selecting trees.  

You not only have multiple types of trees to choose from, like coniferous versus deciduous trees, but you also have several different potential tree shapes. This guide explores the different shapes trees come in and which ones to choose. Alexandria’s tree service experts at G&V can also help you decide. 

Columnar Shaped Trees

The first tree shape we’ll look at is a columnar tree. As the name suggests, a columnar-shaped tree appears like a column. These trees are typically very tall and feature thin and upright branches. 

This vertical shape grants them extra height without being too wide. These trees are perfect when you want a tall tree without a wide shape. They also have a formal and tidy profile, so you won’t need to do as much pruning or trimming.

Some common examples include the following: 

  • Italian cypress
  • Quaking Aspen
  • Emerald Green arborvitae
  • Lombardy poplar 
  • Red and Sugar Maples
  • Pyramid oak

Vase Shaped Trees

Vase-shaped trees feature a central trunk branching off into an upwards-arching form. This arching form features its widest section on top and can give your property a lot of headspace and shade. 

Their unique shape makes them perfect sidewalks and walkways, as they won’t obscure traffic or make it hard for pedestrians to pass. Vase-shaped trees you can select include the following: 

  • Crape myrtle
  • Kwanzan cherry
  • Boxelder
  • Striped maple
  • American elm

Pyramidal or Cone-shaped Trees

Pyramidal trees are broad at their base while being narrow at the top. They’re also wider towards the bottom and feature a primary center trunk accompanied by horizontal branches. Branches can begin growing at the tree’s ground level but can also begin growing higher up. 

Perhaps the most well-known pyramidal tree is the classic Christmas tree. However, deciduous trees can also feature this pyramid shape. 

Conical or cone-shaped trees are similar to pyramidal trees; however, they are more bullet-shaped and have a slender profile. Both cone and pyramid-shaped trees need ample space to grow their optimal width. Some examples are: 

  • Fraser fir
  • Pin oak
  • Western red cedar
  • Blue spruce

Open-Shaped or Spreading Trees

You can characterize spreading or open-shaped trees due to their irregular form. These trees often are wider than their height, with many being bush-like trees. 

However, some can grow to be giant skyline species. They’re great for softening buildings and providing shade. Some open-shaped trees you can choose include: 

  • Cherry, 
  • Ginkgo
  • Mimosa
  • Dogwood

Umbrella-Shaped Trees

For more whimsical tree shapes, you can choose umbrella-shaped trees. These trees feature high branches that spread outwards to create an umbrella-like profile. For trees with high branches, these shapes provide excellent shade. Some examples include the following:

  • Acacia
  • Cutleaf Japanese maple
  • Flowering cherries
  • Palo verde

Globe-Shaped Trees

Globe-shaped trees have a consistent and round top with a clean trunk. A single tree can create a wonderful statement piece. However, you can also line several of them together for an exquisite entrance. You can select from trees such as: 

  • Black Maple
  • Flowering Dogwood
  • Redbud
  • Hackberry

Weeping-Shaped Trees

The last tree shape we’ll explore is weeping-shaped trees. These trees have long and flexible branches that can hang so low that they often touch the ground. Examples include: 

  • Weeping mulberry
  • Weeping cherry
  • Weeping willow

Call Our Team Today 

Many tree shapes exist, and you can find the right one by calling our G&V team at 703-337-3080! Alexandria, VA, residents can also discover expert tips for raising a tree canopy