The Best Shade Trees for Your Yard
Shade trees that fuse beauty, practicality, and resilience? That’s what we give and what you get!
A shade tree that’s as magnificent as it is mighty, and as lush and abundant as it is dependable and long-lasting! If that’s what you want, then you’re mere moments away from getting it. In choosing and planting such a species, you’re opting for a long-term investment that can grow to formidable heights and offer phenomenal shade as well as brilliant fall color. Remember to consider your ideal shade tree’s needs in terms of space, cultivation, and growing conditions.
Not sure where to start? Check out nine of our best shade trees below…
- Sugar Maple. Prized for its beautiful fall colors, majestic structure, and usefulness, the hardy Sugar Maple is cherished as the nation’s principal provider of delectable maple syrup and satiny-smooth lumber. Acer saccharum is a hassle-free shade tree that thrives in well-drained soils. Just be sure to give it enough breathing space, as this beauty can grow up to 80 ft. with a 60 ft. berth and can survive over 400 years given optimal conditions. Pretty sweet, right? Shop Sugar Maple.
- Black Gum. A fantastic combination of beauty, resilience, and practicality, this shade tree attracts a wild variety of wildlife and is lauded for being extremely adaptable. Nyssa sylvatica is shade tolerant, meaning that it grows favorable beneath more dominant trees, and it develops to a decent height of 30-50ft. This shade tree’s true splendor shines through in autumn, when the pigment of its foliage transforms from dark leathery green to spectacular shades of mauve and purple and finishes off as bright scarlet. Another unique characteristic is its blocky ridged bark (which may remind you of alligator skin).
- Japanese Zelkova. As majestic and exotic as its name seems to imply, Zelkova serrata is distinguished by its glorious rounded silhouette and its rich seasonally hued foliage, rendering it a spectacular shade tree and ornamental tree. Its attractive structure is decorated liberally with resplendent green foliage which transition into fiery fall colors of gold, maroon red, and orange-bronze; the tree’s smooth gray bark exfoliates intriguingly over time, revealing a coppery brown interior. This low-maintenance beauty is drought-tolerant, resilient against air pollution and urban conditions, and is resistant to most major insect and pest problems. Shop Japanese Zelkova.
- Red Maple. Due to its pleasing oval-to-rounded shape and its bewitching coloration, the Red Maple is a very popular choice as a fast-growing shade tree, distinguished by its brilliant fiery fall colors, its adaptability and great drought tolerance, and its workable lumber and valuable sap used for making maple syrup. Acer rubrum is in fact one of the most popular and common deciduous shade trees in America, and with the aforementioned characteristics it’s not hard to decipher why. Shop Red Maple.
- Lacebark (Chinese) Elm. Extremely fast-growing, adaptable, handsome, and winter-hardy, Ulmus parvifolia makes for an exquisite shade tree. It is distinguished by its curvy, rounded structure, rearing up to 40-50 ft. with a 25-40 ft. spread, and by radiant leathery foliage that complements its richly-hued exfoliating bark. This sun-loving shade tree is highly resistant to the Dutch elm disease, major pests, and drought; its resilience and shape also render it an excellent bonsai species.
- Northern Red Oak. Heralded as one of the handsomest, cleanest, and stateliest specimens, the Northern Red Oak is a priceless fast-growing shade tree and national treasure with breathtaking fall colors. Quercus rubra is tremendously resilient and is said to grow in even the worst conditions, including poor soil and compact space. In optimal conditions, this splendid species can survive for over 500 years and can grow up to 75 ft. Its most idiosyncratic feature is its pattern of gleaming silvery stripes that run along its ridged bark like rivulets of tears. Shop Northern Red Oak.
- London Planetree. A hybrid specimen that showcases the best attributes of its predecessors, Platanus x acerifolia is a hardy and handsome choice if you’re looking for a reliable shade tree. Its deciduous canopy extends to form a pyramidal sort of architecture as the rich dark green foliage shades the tree’s bark. This bark exfoliates to create an attractive patchwork of color, with the brown outer layer peeling away to reveal a soft creamy interior. This long-living shade tree is terrifically tolerant of atmospheric pollution and urban conditions.
- Yellow Poplar. The gorgeous “Juno of our Groves” (as described by Thomas Jefferson) is uniquely fast-growing and long-living, boasting uncharacteristically strong wood, splendid fall colors, and lush canopy. Thriving with plenty of water and sunlight, the mighty Liriodendron tulipifera’s height ranges 60-150 ft. with a 30-50 ft. berth. It’s easily distinguished by its elegant tulip-shaped flowers and vibrant golden autumn foliage, and has long been popularly prized as a dependable shade tree. Shop Yellow Poplar.
- White Oak. Reigning as the “king of kings” amongst the oaks, the sun-loving Quercus alba is a steadfast shade tree with gorgeously warm fall foliage. This shade tree is hailed as one of the most exemplary hardwoods of central and eastern North America, and is especially prized for its resilience, fruitfulness, and its potential to grow to impressive heights (with a height and span up to 80 ft.); its slow-paced growth rate is balanced by its extreme longevity (over 300-400 years). This is species whose shade you will relish—and for which many future generations will bless you for! Shop White Oak.
Within our lush nursery, we cultivate and provide a healthy and vigorous array of dependable and fast-growing shade trees; we’re here to help you tailor your selection to your exact needs. Whether you’ve got a small space that needs quick shade or a larger landscape with the potential to provide shelter for centuries to come, you can find the perfect shade tree that would suit your environment, budget, and taste. Bring on the shade!
- Jackie Errico