Lily tree landscaping ideas

Written by hannah wahlig
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Lily tree landscaping ideas
Magnolia trees are known for their fragrant, colourful spring blossoms. (Travelif/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Though the term "lily tree" may refer to some cultivations of lily flowers and shrubs that grow to considerable height, most commonly a "lily tree" refers to a tree that belongs to the magnolia genus. Both Magnolia liliiflora and Magnolia denudata are also known as the Yulan magnolia, or the lily tree. The hardy, deciduous trees can grow as short as 3.6 metres or as tall as 20 metres and feature fragrant white, pink or yellow flowers in its late-blooming season. Incorporate a lily tree into your landscaping for shape, privacy or ornamental value.

Japanese gardens

Lily trees are native to Asia and have been a staple feature of Japanese parks and gardens for centuries. Create a tranquil garden escape with smaller lily trees whose peak growth is about 3.6 metres. The low-hanging branches allow sunlight to pass through, so place a simple stone or wooden bench at the base of the tree as a space for reflection and meditation. A meditation pool, small water feature or fountain near the tree adds to the sense of peace and relaxation. Instead of cluttering the area with additional flowers or trees, surround the base of the lily tree with a rock or sand garden, a traditional fixture of Japanese outdoor spaces. The monochromatic dry landscape increases the visual impact of the lily tree's bright summer blossoms.


Large and small cultivars of lily trees make suitable borders for front walkways or backyard garden paths. Opt for a larger, taller cultivar of the lily tree to line the front entrance of your home so that guests are not impeded by low branches. Once the blossoms fall, you will have to sweep the walkway clean to prevent slipping, but the effect of the blossom canopy is elegant and romantic. For even more impact, space several lily trees with small exterior light fixtures in between to add warmth and light. If your backyard garden has walkways, frame the entrance with two small lily trees; avoid planting lily trees near flower beds, as the root system and canopy shade may interfere with normal growth.

Woodland garden

The branches of a lily tree are relatively free of excess leaves and foliage, leaving the bark exposed even when the tree is in bloom. The twisted branches add a rustic element to a woodland garden theme, and the bright spring and summer blossoms provide bursts of colour at peak seasons. Incorporate medium-height lily trees into your woodland-themed garden to add to the sense of rustic whimsy. Keep the trees toward the back area of the garden to prevent them from obstructing the view of other plants; lily trees tolerate partial shade, so larger trees behind the lily tree should not interfere with growth. Pair lily trees with ornamental grasses, moss gardens or other flowering shrubs, like hydrangea, forsythia and Blackhaw viburnum, for a dense, dark garden that brightens in the spring but offers visual interest during the colder months.

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