I also want to take a moment to warn you about a very popular tree that is a very bad investment.
Southern Live Oak
Oak in my backyard
This tree is in my front yard. Although its leaves are black its proper name is Crimson King Maple. It’s a common enough tree yet it’s the only one in my large neighborhood of over 800 houses. As I said in my previous post I find black plants rather intriguing and that’s why I like this tree. However, should something happen to it I’m planning to replace it with a Magnolia ‘Betty’. I’ll try and get a picture of one; hopefully the one at the local arboretum is still in bloom. This pictures don't do this tree justice because the leaves are much more glossy than the pictures show.
Crimson King Maple
Crimson King Maple close-up
This is our local Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. I think you can see why. I like this tree for its quirkiness, who wouldn’t love something so homely and yet so cute. The owners decorate it each Christmas.
Charlie Brown Christmas Tree
Then there is the Bradford Pear. These trees are cheap and easy to find at your local home improvement centers. They are fast growing and I admit very attractive in bloom. Builders are notorious for putting them in the yards of new development for those very reasons. What they don’t tell unsuspecting buyers is just about the time they start to look good and give significant shade they will be damaged either by ice or wind, usally within 5 years of planting. The multiple branches are very brittle so the least little stress will crack them right down the middle. They almost never recover. This tree cost less than $10 to purchase but can cost more than $300 to remove, that's expensive for a tree that almost never last more than 5-8 years (yes, there are acception but few). There is always one of these damaged in my neighborhood, except when I needed a picture. But you can see pictures of the damage done to them here and here.
If you need a fast growing shade tree consider the Sawtoothed Oak. They are considered fast growing and drought tolerant.
The best way to choose a new tree for your home is to contact your local extension office they can give you recommendations on what to and what not to plant in your local area, as well as info on how to plant and care for the tree of your choice.
The best time to plant a tree in the South is in the fall, this gives the tree time to acclimate before the long hot (and sometimes dry) summers. Trees and shrubs should receive and inch of rain a week but if it’s not raining in your area then you’ll need water them yourself. This is particularly important the first two years. After that most trees and shrubs can make it on their own with the exception of long droughts, then you’ll need to water them.
The local extension office can also give you the name of a certified arborist in your area when you need help caring for or removing trees.