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These tried-and-true varieties offer good-sized canopies, seasonal interest, wildlife benefits and more
If you’re thinking of adding a shade tree to your yard this fall, start homing in on your top choices now, as prime tree-planting season is right around the corner. Fall typically offers ideal tree-planting conditions, with warm soil and the promise of months of rain and cool weather that can help a tree get established before spring growth.
To get started, take a look at this roundup of all-star shade trees — offering medium to large canopies, beautiful branch structure, gorgeous blooms, brilliant fall foliage, wildlife benefits and more — to see which one would work best in your landscape.
Wide canopies, gnarled branch structure and wildlife benefits. Stately and majestic, oaks add real presence to a landscape and habitat for native birds, insects, squirrels and other animals. As shade trees they provide dense canopies and large pools of shade, thanks to their wide branch structure.
Southern live oak (Quercus virginiana, zones 7 to 11), native to coastal areas of the southeastern U.S and Texas, is a top choice for gardens in those areas. For California, look to native coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia, zones 9 to 11) or, for non-prickly leaves, valley oak (Quercus lobata, zones 7 to 11).
Growing tip: Most oaks and all that are native to the West Coast require limited summer water. Planting them in a lawn or with water-loving plants beneath them can lead to root diseases.
Where it will grow: Hardiness varies by species; many grow within USDA zones 5 to 11 (find your zone) Water requirement: Moderate; limited summer water Light requirement: Full sun Mature size: Varies by species; many can reach over 60 feet tall and 80 to 100 feet wide
Spectacular fall foliage and a variety of tree sizes to choose from. Beloved for their leaf shapes and stunning fall color, maple trees are stunning shade trees used in gardens across the country. Both eastern native sugar maple (Acer saccharum, zones 3 to 8) and western native bigtooth maple (Acer grandidentatum, zones 4 to 9) make excellent garden specimens, offering classic maple leaves, straight trunks and blazing fall colors.
Japanese maples (Acer palmatum cvs., zones 5 to 8) fall into a category of their own, with hundreds of cultivars to choose from for size, shape and foliage color. Some species, such as coral bark Japanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’), can reach 15 to 20 feet tall and make good medium-scale shade trees for courtyards and smaller gardens.
Where it will grow: Hardiness varies by species; many grow within zones 4 to 9 Water requirement: Moderate to regular Light requirement: Shade (primarily Japanese maples) to full sun, depending on species Mature size: Varies widely from small cultivars of Japanese maples to large canopy trees 50 feet tall and wide
Heart-shaped leaves and spring fragrance. Linden offers pretty flowers, delicate heart-shaped leaves and an upright structure well-suited to adding height and shade to gardens. The fragrant, cream-colored blooms hang down in clusters in summer, offering seasonal interest and food for pollinators. American basswood (Tilia americana, zones 2 to 11), also called American linden, native to eastern North America, has larger leaves than European native little leaf linden (Tilia cordata, zones 3 to 7).
Where it will grow: Hardiness varies by species Water requirement: Moderate; limited summer water Light requirement: Partial to full sun Mature size: Varies by species, but generally large and upright, from 80 to 120 feet tall and 30 to 40 feet wide
Large leaves and gorgeous blooms. Noble magnolia trees are celebrated in gardens across the U.S., particularly in Southern states. Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora, zones 7 to 9), native to the southeast U.S., is a top shade tree choice for gardens in that region and offers large cup-shaped blooms and glossy bronze leaves. Big-leaf magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla, zones 5 to 8), a less-common tree native to wooded valleys in the southeastern U.S., has huge, brilliant green leaves up to 30 inches long — some of the largest simple leaves of any North American native tree. Saucer magnolia (Magnolia x soulangeana, zones 4 to 9)has gorgeous white and pink blossoms that emerge before leaves on smooth branches.
Where it will grow: Hardiness varies by species; many grow within zones 5 to 9 Water requirement: Moderate Light requirement: Partial to full sun Mature size: Varies by species; up to 60 to 80 feet tall and 30 to 50 feet wide
Beautiful foliage that changes with the seasons. Native to China and Japan, katsura tree makes the list for its beautiful leaves that change color multiple times throughout the year. In spring they emerge reddish-purple with tiny flowers and then mature to medium green through summer. In fall the foliage takes on hues from brilliant gold to reddish, depending on climate.
While these trees can grow large canopies in the wild, garden specimens — particularly those with multi-trunks — are generally kept to a manageable 15 to 25 feet height. Female trees form little green seedpods in summer if a male tree is planted nearby.
Growing tip: Katsura trees need consistent water when young and thrive in rich, moist soils in sheltered locations.
Where it will grow: Hardy to minus 25degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 31.7degrees Celsius (zones 4 to 8) Water requirement: Moderate to regular Light requirement: Part shade to full sun Mature size: 40 to 60 feet tall and 25 to 60 feet wide, but multi-trunked forms are often kept much smaller in gardens
Great for smaller Mediterranean-climate gardens. Olive trees are staples of Mediterranean-climate gardens and are effective at shading a courtyard seating area or anchoring a low-water garden. Their canopies are not as large as typical shade trees, but the more manageable size benefits smaller spaces.
To skip the messy chore of cleaning up the trees’ oily fruits, be sure to plant a non-fruiting cultivar like ‘Swan Hill’. Be aware that even varieties marketed as “non-fruiting” or “sterile” can still form a small amount of fruit.
Where it will grow: Hardy to 15 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 9.4degrees Celsius (zones 8 to 10) Water requirement: Moderate; low once established Light requirement: Full sun Mature size: 20 to 30 feet tall and 15 to 25 feet wide
Sweet rewards and good shade for generally medium-sized trees. Don’t rule out fruit trees when you’re choosing a shade tree to add to your garden. Trees like apple, pear, plum, apricot, cherry, persimmon and some citrus can make beautiful trees for shading a small seating area. Ripe fruit will make a mess if dropped on a patio; for a softer landing and easier cleanup, plant a fruit tree within a bed or lawn. Stone fruit trees offer beautiful spring flowers and others, like persimmon, have nice fall foliage.
Where it will grow: Hardiness varies by tree type; many fall between zones 4 to 9 (citrus are frost-sensitive) Water requirement: Moderate to regular; water consistently during fruiting season Light requirement: Full sun Mature size: Varies; many grow between 15 to 25 feet tall and wide
Best for shade in the desert. Native to the Sonoran Desert in the southwest U.S. and northwestern Mexico, blue palo verde are well-adapted to hot, arid climates with little rainfall. Plant as a tree to shade a patio or walkway in these regions. The small leaves are green with a blue tint and grow on green stick-like stems and branches (hence the common name, which translates to “green pole” in Spanish). Brilliant yellow flowers cover the tree in late spring and attract native pollinators. Leaves drop in extended periods of drought but come right back with the first rainfall or a dose of irrigation.
Where it will grow: Hardy to 15 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 9.4degrees Celsius (zones 8 to 10) Water requirement: Low once established Light requirement: Full sun Mature size: 15 to 30 feet tall and wide
Beautiful leaf forms and fall color. Native to the eastern U.S., tulip tree, also called yellow poplar, is a beautiful shade tree that grows into an elegant pyramid shape. Leaves are a similar shape to those of maples and stay bright green through summer, turning gold in fall. The common name comes from the vaguely tulip-like creamy yellow flowers with an orange band at the base that bloom in spring. Use tulip tree as a shade tree in large gardens, where there’s room to accommodate the towering mature size.
Where it will grow: Hardy to minus 25degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 31.7degrees Celsius (zones 4 to 9) Water requirement: Moderate to regular Light requirement: Full sun Mature size: 60 to 90 feet tall and 30 to 50 feet wide
Year-round structure and winter interest. There are plenty of reasons to plant a conifer in gardens across many regions. Paramount is the fact that they are evergreen, providing welcome shade and interest in the landscape year-round, unlike deciduous shade trees. Those that form cones offer a food source for wildlife. Choose from a wide variety of pine, fir, cedar, cypress, spruce, sequoia, redwood and others to find a conifer that complements your landscape and thrives in your region.
Where it will grow: Hardiness varies by species; many grow within zones 4 to 9 (some are even more cold-tolerant) Water requirement:Low to moderate Light requirement:Varies from partial to full sun Mature size:Varies widely by species, from compact ground covers to towering trees 100 feet tall, or more
1. Climate. Select a tree that will naturally thrive in your region and won’t require you to give it too much special care. Check out what soil type, temperature ranges, sunlight exposure and moisture levels a tree needs to be happy, and make sure it lines up with your climate and planting site.
2. Mature size. Know how big a shade tree you’re interested in can get and determine whether that’s appropriate for your garden size. See how easily a tree can be maintained at a smaller size, if possible.
3. Seasonal Interest. Think about your priorities when it comes to a tree. Are you looking for one that offers spring flowers, decorative or delicious fruit, spectacular fall foliage or a gorgeous year-round branch structure? Most trees will have one or two of the above characteristics but rarely all.
4. Benefits to wildlife. Native trees offer the most benefit to the insects, birds and other animals that have evolved to depend on local trees for food and habitat. Native and non-native trees provide shelter and nesting spots, while some provide food through seeds, nuts or fruit, or offer other benefits to wildlife.
5. Care and maintenance. Look into what it takes to keep a tree healthy (frequency of pruning, water needs, branch thinning and more) and see if that fits with your time and budget. Is routinely sweeping up leaves, fruit or flowers, for example, something you’re willing to take on?
6. Safety and regulations. When scouting a spot to plant a tree, survey for utility lines both above and below ground. Check with local building codes for setback regulations and avoid planting a tree too close to the house — where it can disrupt the foundation and run the risk of dropping a limb on the roof. If you live in an area with wildfires, avoid planting trees close to buildings and those that pose a greater fire hazard, such as highly flammable conifers and eucalyptus.
Formerly used as a car wash, restaurant, grocery store, barber, hair salon and more. Building is sectioned off to have multiple uses at once. Roll up doors are a great asset for loading and unloading…FYI…church across the street and coin laundry next door.
Contact Renee at McLeRoy Realty to see this today!