Hardwood and softwood are categorisations given to lumber and firewood. Softwood is not suitable for firewood. When burnt, softwood spits, pops and burns away quickly. For a fragrant, steady burning fire, hardwoods are the best. Just cutting down anything in your yard or on your property is not the way to stock up on firewood. You can identify hardwood in a few ways.
Look at the shape of the tree. Coniferous trees or softwood trees can grow in a triangular shape. The leaves of a coniferous tree have waxy needles or scale leaves. These trees are evergreen and do not go dormant or shed their leaves with the seasons.
Examine the leaves of the tree. Hardwood trees have broad leaves. Examples of such tree varieties are oak and beech. These leaves can be single blade leaves or have multiple leaves attached to one stem. Hardwood leaves also will have a delicate network of veins visible on the top or undersides of the leaves.
Look for nuts and fruits. Hardwoods will produce acorns or flowers rather than cones. In the winter, hardwood trees go dormant and lose their leaves. Most softwoods are evergreen and do not go dormant.