rocky soil

10 Trees That Grow in Rocky Soil

In Lawn & Garden by Jamie

Most people would love to grow trees in their yards simply because it gives that fresh feeling of having a touch of nature around you. However, not everyone is lucky enough to be situated in the perfect garden with the perfect condition for planting. It is hard to know the best trees that grow in rocky soil. I decided to put together a list of 10 trees you can grow in your rocky yard.

One thing that may differ from your yard with others is the climate zone you are in. This is a huge consideration, so let’s get into more detail about climate zones and planting trees.

Consider Your Climate Zone?

Climate zones are basically how each city or district is divided into the map depending on their temperature range. This is used to determine what temperatures you have in your area to help you tell which trees you can grow in your climate zone. While plants can grow in any climate, there might be some that would need more intensive care which could be too tiresome to take care of. It’s always best to plant trees that will thrive in your zone.

If you’re in continental or polar zones, it might be difficult to grow trees that are more temperate or tropical since they would require more sun or a warmer climate. But if you have rocky soil, then you’re luckier than most. Why so?

The rocks in your soil might just help you with that since rocks are known to hold more heat. Hence, if you got rocky soil, your trees may just get enough heat required for them to grow.

So if you think you are situated in the perfect climate zone with the right mix of rocky soil, maybe you can start planting trees for your benefit. We trimmed down that list to 10 of the best trees that you can grow with your rocky soil in the yard.


10 Trees That Grow Best in Rocky Soil

1. Fir Trees

One of the best trees to grow on rocky soil is fir. This coniferous evergreen grows all year round. However, they need full or part sun and need moisture in the soil. They are known to grow well in rocky soil because they are native to mountain ranges across the globe.

The rocks on the soil can help radiate heat towards the soil. Not only does it provide heat, but its warmth can also produce a bit of moisture that could trickle down the soil.

There are different types of fir that grow throughout North America. The popular and more northern fir tree is called the balsam fir, it is found more in the northeastern United States, and throughout Canada. Fir trees are native to North/Central Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Other types/species of fir, are found throughout North and Central America, Northern Africa, Asia, and throughout Europe.

2. Birch Trees

Birch trees are deciduous trees that prefer sunlight and crave moisture. A rocky soil could help them flourish in areas that lack both.

where do birch trees grow

Attribution: Photo by Chelyabinsksurovyi. Map of Birch,  CC BY-SA 3.0 Image Created: 24 February 2013.

In Canada, you will find birch trees growing all over the country. Particularly parts of the East and Northwest, some places you can find some birch trees thriving. I live in Atlantic Canada and my childhood home had 2 huge Birch trees. They had no problem growing!

Birch trees thrive mainly in arctic and northern temperate regions worldwide. If wondering where they are found in the United States, usually in the northern locations.

3. Pine Trees

One of the best things about growing pine trees is that they thrive in both sunny and shady areas. But while they are better on sandy soil, your rocky soil can still help it get the heat that it needs if you think you lack sunlight in your area.

Pine trees are exclusive to the Northern Hemisphere. You will find them growing in many places in North America, Europe, China, Southern Asia, Eastern Asia, and in parts of Russia.

Pine trees grow in cool temperatures and throughout the boreal forests. Find the boreal forest in Alaska, inland Canada, and in the Northern USA.

4. Alder Trees

Since alder is a genus of the birch family, growing them is just like growing birch trees. The sunlight and soil conditions are the same so the effects on rocky soil on alder trees are just that of birch.

Alder trees are native to Canada and can be found throughout different places in the USA. Some species even grow in Central America and Northern Africa in Algeria and surrounding countries. Furthermore, they are found growing in Europe and Asia.

5. Maple Tree

map where maple grows

Image by Maphobbyist, Map genus Acer, 22:11, 16 March 2018, FAL Free Art License

Maple trees grow and thrive in areas with the sun or partial shade. Their roots also tend to raise more than other trees. They also love moist soil so if your area tends to be dryer than usual, the rocks in your soil can help generate heat and provide proper moisture.

They are mostly found in Canada, USA, and Europe. They are also located in China and surrounding areas.

6. Cedar Trees

Your rocky soil is perfect to grow cedar trees since they love the sun and prefers dry conditions. This means that the rocky soil won’t be a problem nor is it just an amend to any climate zone.

They can be found along the coast of British Columbia and the slopes of the Rocky Mountains.

Common USA Ceder Locations:

  • Arizona
  • Minnesota – Oak Grove
  • Kansas
  • West Virginia
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Michigan
  • Wisconsin

7. Cherry Tree

If you want to grow fruit-bearing trees, you can opt for a cherry. It loves some sun and grows in moist soil. Your rocky soil can help with that if your current climate zone doesn’t.

It’s literally a cherry on top if you like eating cherries!

If you want to grow a Cherry Tree and want to learn to know how to choose the best location, Stark Bros has a full article explaining how. They talk about many important things when looking for success in growing Cherry Trees.

8. Apple Tree

Another fruit-bearing tree that you can grow on rocky soil is apple trees.

Apple trees love the sun. Plus, one thing you should consider when planting them is that they should be avoided from frost pockets. That being said, your rocky soil would just be perfect since the heat absorbed, then emitted, from the rocks would make sure it is away from the cold.

9. Cottonwood Trees

Your rocky soil can help generate moisture, so you have enough to grow cottonwood trees in your yard.

Cottonwood trees are very popular in the United States in eastern, central, and southwest areas.

They can be seen near Lake Erie in Ontario and some parts of Montreal and Quebec.

10. Aspen Trees

Last but not least, aspen trees can also grow on rocky soils. They grow on any kind of soil but would prefer moist, sandy, and gravelly or rocky ones.

Aspen trees are native to Canada, but is the most widely spread out tree through North America. See many Aspen trees in the northern USA, just think about Aspen Colorado. They definitely see Aspen trees!

There are also many types of aspen trees growing in Asia and Northern Europe.


Planting Trees on Rocky Soil

Remember, the key to growing the right set of plants (aside from trees) in your backyard is to check which climate zone your area belongs to and the temperature range you would expect in your area. Only then can you tell if you can plant certain trees. If you’re not so sure, you can just simply look around your neighborhood and the surrounding areas to see what types of trees are growing. You can grow them from start, but just be sure that all your efforts in growing one won’t be for naught.

You Can’t Grow a Tree if Rock bed is 6 inches below!

Be aware of the rock beds in your growing area. If the rock bed is right under the soil tree growth is very unlikely.

Growing your tree always gives you that sense of accomplishment. It would take a long time before you can finally see the fruits of your labor. And while you’re at it, you might also want to consider planting other plants that would flourish on rocky soil. You don’t only have a tree standing by, but an entire garden.

And just like your trees, you also have to know which ones you can plant in your climate zone. So, make sure you have the proper research done!

Good luck planting trees that grow in rocky soil!