The sun’s natural energy lights your home and warms it during the winter with its golden rays. However, it is often overbearing during the hot months of summer. Landscaping around your home with trees that provide shade is a natural way to remedy this problem while adding curb appeal.
We all have pleasant childhood memories of swaying on a tire swing and lazing about on a hammock of dappled sunlight beneath the canopy of a backyard tree. Those weren’t ordinary trees.
They are large trees with strong and thick branches arching outward, forming a natural roof of sheltering leaves. Trees add visual appeal to the landscape with their sturdy trunks and dancing leaves.
But, many other perks are less noticeable. Large canopy trees offer shelter from natural elements such as rain and sun, and growing them around your property lowers the cost of cooling your home.
- What are the Benefits of Planting Shade Trees?
- Which Trees Offer the Best Shade?
- How Long Do these Trees Take to Grow?
- Where Should I Plant Trees in my Yard?
- Red Oak (Quercus rubra)
- Tulip Tree (Liriodendron) – Flowering Trees that Provide Shade
- Hybrid Poplar (Populus)
- River Birch (Betula nigra) – Unique Tree with Showy Bark
- American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)
- Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia X soulangeana) – Stunning tree with Large Fragrant Flowers
- Red Maple (Acer rubrum)
- Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica) – Shady Tree with Elegant Form
- Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)
- Little-Leaf Linden (Tilia cordata) – Flowering Tree that Attracts Pollinators
- Zelkova (Zelkova Serrata)
- American Elm (Ulmus americana) – Majestic Tree for Large Yards
- American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana)
- Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) – Hardy Tree with Unique Fan-Shaped Leaves
Landscaping with Large Canopy Shade Trees
There are many tree species, and the range of their appearance varies. Some are short and slender, others are tall and wide, and then some fill the air with spring flowers. Understanding what is different is key to creating a shady yard.
You can also choose between deciduous trees that lose their leaves each fall and evergreen trees for shade that keep their foliage all year.
What are the Benefits of Planting Shade Trees?
There are so many benefits that it’s hard to know where to start. The most obvious is the shelter they provide to your yard. They also shade your home from the hot rays of summer while lowering cooling costs.
Many of these trees have large and sturdy branches that are ideal for a hammock or swing. Trees with large canopies have some of the most beautiful green leaves that often turn color during the fall.
Flowering trees fill the air with sweet scents and attract pollinators to the area. Some species are a fast growing tree and some develop more slowly, and all provide a safe place for birds and small animals to take shelter.
Which Trees Offer the Best Shade?
There are many types of trees, and some offer more sun-shelter than others. The paper birch has a mature spread of 35 feet while the red oak spreads up to 60 feet or more.
Check the plant care tag on your favorite tree at your local nursery or garden center to determine if it has the desired canopy size for your space.
How Long Do these Trees Take to Grow?
The answer all depends on the kind of tree. Some grow quickly, and others are slow-growers. Trees such as the red buckeye and crape myrtle have a slow growth rate of 12 inches a year, while the tulip poplar grows up to 2 feet a year.
It’s crucial to weigh all pros and cons of a tree before planting it in your yard. Fast-growing shade trees are ideal if you desire quick shelter from the sun, but many die younger than the slow-growing variety.
Where Should I Plant Trees in my Yard?
Placement is one of the most important things to consider when purchasing your new tree. Some of the best trees for shade seem like the perfect choice for landscaping until you realize it’s mature size is too large for your yard.
Check the care tag for your tree for its growth rate, height, and spread and match it to the space around your home to determine the best plants for a shaded patio or for a sunny garden area.
Pick a sunny location for trees for your front yard or backyard space and plant them no closer than half the mature spread size away from the house or other permanent structure. Always check for underground electrical or plumbing fixtures that interfere with the root system.
Choose some of these trees for privacy from neighbors on your property border, too.
Red Oak (Quercus rubra)
This large deciduous specimen is one of the fast growing trees for shade with a rounded, broad-spreading crown. The dark green leaves have seven to ten toothed lobes. They start with yellow-green catkins in the spring and end with brilliant russet to bright red color in the fall.
Mature red oaks grow an abundance of acorns and grow 50 to 70 feet tall and wide. These sun lovers proliferate in many soil types and grow best in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 9.
Add a few shrubs for partial shade at the base of red oaks for added color and interest.
Tulip Tree (Liriodendron) – Flowering Trees that Provide Shade
The tulip tree is a tall and stately specimen that starts its life with a pyramidal habit and matures to an oval, rounded shape. It produces three-inch, yellow-green flowers amid bright green, flat-topped leaves from late spring to early summer.
The leaves of this magnificent tree turn golden yellow in the fall, followed by cone-like fruit during the winter. Tulip trees love the sun and grow 60 to 80 feet tall, with a crown that spreads 30 to 40 feet wide and are hardy in zones 4 through 9.
Hybrid Poplar (Populus)
This broad-shaped tree has silvery green leaves and creates sprawling shade with ease. Its triangular leaves are dark and silvery, and 3 to 6 inches long. It grows extremely fast with a rate of 5 to 8 feet a year and has a short lifespan.
These trees are easy to establish almost anywhere but prefer zones 3 through 9. Hybrid poplars have a mature height of 40 to 50 feet tall with a 30-foot spread and require six hours of direct sunlight daily.
River Birch (Betula nigra) – Unique Tree with Showy Bark
The bark of river birch trees is smooth, shiny, and salmon-pink that eventually curls and flakes in brown and blackish sheets. These trees with colorful bark grow in an upright and pyramidal shape with glossy green and silver leaves that turn yellow at the end of the season.
This vigorous, fast-growing tree grows 40 to 70 feet tall, with a spread of up to 60 feet. It tolerates part to full sun in hardiness zones 4 through 9. The river birch is heat tolerant and likes wet soil.
American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)
This enormous, deciduous tree has a mounded crown of horizontal, crooked branches and a massive trunk.
It has maple-shaped leaves that are medium to dark green during the summer and yellow-brown in the fall. These trees with an attractive bark are gray on the outside but the bark peels away to reveal cream-colored inner bark.
American sycamore trees are hardy in zones 4 through 9 and grow best in full sun. They are deer tolerant and grow easily in wet soil. Plant these trees near streams and watch them flourish for years.
Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia X soulangeana) – Stunning tree with Large Fragrant Flowers
Magnolia trees are a sight to see and not just for southern gardening alone. This spreading tree has a profusion of ten-inch, white flowers, shaded with purple and pink from early to mid-spring.
The fragrant blooms appear before the mid-green leaves make an appearance. There are many kinds of magnolia trees with varying sizes, and the saucer variety is ideal for shading a small yard with its mature size of 25 feet tall and full. This magnolia is one of the most beautiful garden trees that thrives in zones 5 through 9 and enjoys part to full sun.
Red Maple (Acer rubrum)
This pyramid-shaped tree is famous for its lovely fall color. It rounds as it matures and has clusters of red flowers in early spring that give way to dark green leaves and red fruit.
The leaves change to dazzling shades of yellow and red in the autumn. This easy growing tree grows well in part and full sun and thrives in hardiness zones 3 through 9.
Red maples are a perfect specimen plant for shading the yard with a mature height of 40 to 70 feet tall and a crown of 30 to 50 feet wide.
Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica) – Shady Tree with Elegant Form
This medium to large deciduous tree is a popular choice for landscaping. It has an open crown of branches that sweep downward in a graceful manner, with narrow, light green leaves that turn yellow-green in the fall.
Weeping willows enjoy moist soil and grow in a stunning display near a pond or stream. They are easy to grow, deer tolerant, and perform well in full sun. These 30 to 50-foot tall trees are hardy in zones 6 through 8.
Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)
Flowering dogwood trees are popular for their four-season interest. They grow 4-inch, star-like flowers in the spring, branches of mid-green leaves and orange-red summer fruit, red fall foliage, and distinctively patterned winter bark.
Dogwoods grow to a mature size of 30 feet tall, with an equally sized crown. They grow best in partial shade and are hardy in zones 5 through 9. Flowering dogwoods are easy to grow and suitable for small spaces.
Little-Leaf Linden (Tilia cordata) – Flowering Tree that Attracts Pollinators
The little-leaf linden tree has dark green leaves that are 3-inches in size and turn to yellow at the end of the season. It produces spreading clusters of creamy white flowers with a fragrance that attracts pollinating bees to the yard.
The youthful pyramid habit of this tree gives way to a rounded shape as it matures. This deciduous tree is excellent as a free-standing specimen or growing as street trees. Little-leaf lindens are hardy in zones 3 through 8 and prefer full sun to part shade.
Zelkova (Zelkova Serrata)
This gracefully shaped deciduous tree has attractive bark and green serrated foliage. The lance-shaped leaves turn gold and red in the fall, and the smooth gray bark exfoliates as it ages to reveal orange shades.
Zelkova trees are hardy in zones 5 through 9 and have a mature height and crown of 50 to 80 feet tall. They perform best in sunny areas and are drought, wind, and pollution tolerant.
American Elm (Ulmus americana) – Majestic Tree for Large Yards
These handsome trees have an upright, spreading form with a vase-like crown. Their leathery, dark green leaves are 3 to 6 inches long and turn buttery-yellow in the fall. This impressive tree is a fast grower with a graceful appearance.
This sun craving tree is drought tolerant and thrives in zones 2 through 9. It has a majestic size of 60 to 80 feet tall with a crown that reaches up to 70 feet wide. It grows well in both dry and wet soils.
American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana)
These trees develop a cone shape as they mature and have blue-green foliage that turns orange, red, and yellow during the autumn. They grow on the small side when it comes to shade trees, and are ideal for smaller spaces.
American hornbeam is a slow-growing tree that reaches a mature height of 20 feet or more with a crowing spread of 20 to 35 feet. They grow well in as little as four hours of sunshine a day and are hardy in zones 3 through 9.
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) – Hardy Tree with Unique Fan-Shaped Leaves
Also called the maidenhair tree, ginkgo is extremely hardy and produces large fan-shaped leaves that begin bright green and turn gorgeous yellow as fall approaches. The seeds of the ginkgo are common in many herbal medicines.
These long-living trees are strong and sturdy, and pest and drought resistant. Ginkgo trees are hardy in zones 4 through 9 and enjoy both part and full sun locations. It is an easy growing tree that is tolerant of city conditions.
Large canopy trees have so much to offer that it’s hard to find a good reason not to plant them.
They provide afternoon shade in the yard, lower cooling costs in your home, offer shelter from high wind, and give birds and critters a place to nest. Some even fill your yard with fragrant spring flowers and stunning fall color.
Creating a yard of cool summer relief with canopy trees that provide shade is easy, so why not share our shade tree guide with your family and friends on Facebook and Pinterest?