Best Shade Trees | Choosing the Best Shade Trees for Your Yard

Best Shade Trees

When choosing the best shade trees for your yard the first thing to consider is the available space. The last thing you need on a 40-foot building lot is a 100-foot-tall Sugar Maple with a span of 80 feet. Another consideration is how fast the trees will grow. If your goal is to create summer shade on your rear deck, you don’t want to wait 10 years before you can enjoy it. Selecting fast growing trees such as the Red Maple, Weeping Willow, or a Hybrid Poplar is your best bet. Check out our top choices of shade trees for small or large yards.

Best Shade Trees for Larger Landscapes

Oak Trees: As America’s National Tree, the Oak Tree tops the list of our favorite shade trees. Oak Trees can be found in all parts of the country. More than 60 distinct species of Oak Trees are native to the US. Some of the more common types include: The White Oak, Live Oak, Northern Red Oak, Water Oak, Myrtle Oak, Bur Oak, Scarlet Oak, and the Sawtooth Oak. Depending on the species, Oak Trees can grow from 40 feet to 80-foot-tall with a width ranging from 25 feet to 80 feet.

Maple Trees: With their brilliant fall colors, Maple Trees are high on our list of the best shade trees. The more common species include the Red Maple, Sugar Maple, Silver Maple, Norway Maple, and the Crimson King Maple.

Elm Trees: While the Dutch Elm disease all but wiped out these trees in the mid 1900’s, they have made a resurgence with new disease resistant varieties. Mature Elm Trees range from 40 to 60 feet tall and wide.

Hybrid Poplar: If you are looking for shade in a hurry, you should consider the Hybrid Poplar. This tree grows quickly, at a rate of up to 8 feet per year, topping out at 50 feet.

Weeping Willow: The Weeping Willow is another fast-growing tree ranging from 3 feet to 8 feet per year depending on conditions. The mature height is 40 feet with a span of 35 feet.

Littleleaf Linden: This is a lesser known tree but is a great shade tree and popular in cites because of its strong resistance to air pollution. It has a moderate growth rate but will reach its full height of 60 to 70 feet, with a span of 30 to 40 feet, in about 25 years.

Best Shade Trees for Small Yards

If you have a tiny backyard you can still enjoy summertime shade if you select the right tree to suit your landscape. Obviously if you live on a postage stamp size lot, you’re not likely to plant 80-foot-tall and wide Oak trees or the Giant Ginko Biloba tree. Your neighbors may take offence if you to. The solution can be found on our list of the best shade trees for small yards:

Japanese Maple: Planting a Japanese Maple will accomplish two goals. In addition to providing adequate shade on you deck or patio, the Japanese Maple exudes beauty with its fantastic colors and gorgeous shape. Mature trees will range from 15 to 20 feet in height and width. An excellent choice for small spaces.

Crape Myrtle: The Crape Myrtle is a beautiful flowering tree that is primarily found in the southern states. Depending on the variety, Crape Myrtle’s grow to 15 to 35 feet tall, so care must be taken in your selection. In late summer, you will enjoy stunning blooms in purple, pink, lavender, red, or white.

Flowering Dogwood: The dogwood is yet another example of a beautiful flowering tree suitable for smaller yards. They typically max out at 20 feet depending on the species.
Crabapple: While the Crabapple is adorned with beautiful white, pink, or red flowers in spring; beware the falling fruit, which many homeowners consider to be a nuisance. The dwarf varieties, with a height of 8 to 15 feet, are perfect for a small space.

Final Considerations:

In conclusion keep this criteria in mind when selecting the best shade trees for your yard.

  • Consider the full height of the mature tree and how it fits in with the surrounding landscape
  • Consider your neighbors when planting large trees near the lot line
  • Consider the mature span of the tree, and calculate the distance from your home when selecting the planting location
  • Select smaller trees if your yard is small
  • Plant fast growing trees to enjoy the shade sooner