Trees are useful in many capacities, but for gardeners in particularly warm climates, trees provide needed shade. There are many trees that produce a canopy of branches and leaves dense enough to block out the sun, providing a place to sit outside in the summer, shielding a window from the blazing heat, or shading a garden.
Stately and tall, the pecan tree (Carya illinoinensis) is a popular shade tree that doubles as a source for delicious, healthy pecan nuts. The plant has reddish brown bark and olive-colored leaves. Native to much of North America, as well as northern Mexico, the pecan tree is widely commercially cultivated throughout the United States and other parts of the world. The tree does best in full sunlight and in soil that is frequently enhanced with nitrogen-rich fertilizer.
Reaching staggering heights of up to 120 feet (though usually closer to 50), red maple (Acer rubrum) is a stunning ornamental that provides plenty of shade under its dense canopy. The plant boasts clusters of brilliant red tubular flowers, as well as foliage that changes from green to red during the autumn. A native of the southeastern United States, red maple is a versatile plant that can grow in water-logged soils by a pond or lake, or in very dry, well-drained soils. The tree will grow in full sun or partial shade.
Perfect for gardeners with limited space, flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) is a diminutive tree reaching heights of about 15 to 20 feet. The dense canopy of the flowering dogwood, which is accented by spring-blooming pink or white flowers, makes the tree an excellent small shade tree. Native to the eastern United States, flowering dogwood does best in filtered sunlight with soil that is fertile and well drained. The tree should be watered on a regular basis to keep the soil moist.