There are approximately 60,065 unique species of trees in the world, according to a recent study of the world’s plants. While no two species are the same, they can all be categorized as either hardwood or softwood.
Upon reading these terms, though, you may assume that hardwood species are physically hard, whereas softwood species are soft. But the truth is that hardwood and softwood refers to something completely different.
Hardwood trees are deciduous, meaning they shed their leaves once a year.
Around the beginning of fall, hardwood trees will lose their leaves in preparation of the upcoming winter months. With a large canopy foliage, trees will consume more water.
Therefore, hardwood trees shed their leaves to protect against stress caused by the dry, cold winter weather.
Oak is a type of hardwood that’s prevalent throughout Texas. There are several types of oak native to Texas, most of which grow to heights of 60 to 120 feet when fully mature.
Unlike hardwood trees, softwood trees generally don’t shed their leaves once a year.
Also known as gymnosperm trees, softwood trees are defined by their ability to produce seed-bearing cones or fruit, which they drop to reproduce.
Furthermore, softwood trees don’t enter a state of dormancy during the winter like hardwood trees.
Pine is a common softwood found in Texas. While oak and other hardwood trees shed their leaves once a year, pine trees do not. They develop needle-shaped leaves, which they retain for up to seven years.
Understanding the Differences
The primary difference between hardwood and softwood trees in a landscape is that hardwoods shed their leaves once a year, whereas softwood trees retain their leaves throughout the year.
If your landscape consists primarily of softwood trees, you won’t have to worry about leaves blanketing your lawn and restricting your grass of sunlight. Some leaves may still fall from a softwood, but hardwood trees shed significantly more leaves, thereby requiring more work to maintain your landscape.
Some homeowners grow trees for the purpose of creating and harvesting firewood. In this instance, growing hardwood trees is recommended because they are denser than softwood trees. Commercially sold firewood consists almost exclusively of hardwood, as it burns longer than firewood consisting of softwood.
Hardwood trees also grow more slowly than softwood trees. For homeowners looking to include new trees in their landscape, softwood varieties may offer a better choice because of their fast-growing properties.
If we can help with any of your tree care needs give us a call at 512-846-2535 or 512-940-0799 or