When selecting a shade tree for the garden or landscape, there are a variety of things to consider, aside from discovering which type of tree will adapt to the region and its climate. Consider both the height and width of the tree when making the selection. Another factor is the tree's fruit, which may attract unwanted attention from birds and other wildlife, or leave stains and litter on sidewalks or pathways. Many trees come in fruitless varieties, which may be preferable.
The deciduous trident maple (acer buergerianum), which has a rounded or oval crown, is often used along streets and enjoys full sun exposure. While it can grow to 35 feet high, a typical height for the mature trident maple is between 20 to 25 feet. Its yellow-green flowers bloom in the spring, yet blend in with the crown's foliage. Before it loses its leaves for the winter, the crown displays an impressive array of red, yellow or orange leaves. A native of Japan, this drought-tolerant tree prefers the warmer climates of zone 5.
The Chinese chestnut (castanea mollissima), a fast-growing shade tree, has a wide crown and can reach up to 50 feet in height. A native of China, it grows well in zones 5 to 8 and makes an ideal tree for climbing--due to its low-growing branches. It is a difficult tree to transplant, due to its root system. Its fruit ripens in late summer, each containing 2 or 3 edible nuts. The tree's flowers are small and white, with male and female flowers. The male blossoms give off an unpleasant odor. The Chinese chestnut is similar in appearance to the American chestnut.
The red mulberry (morus rubra) supplies fruit and shade to its environment. Its berry-like fruit grows in clusters, ripening in late spring. Because birds are fond of the red mulberry fruit, farmers sometimes strategically plant a mulberry to lure birds away from other more valuable fruit trees. To avoid the hassle and mess of the fruit, gardeners often select fruitless varieties as shade trees. Native to most of the eastern half of the United States, the red mulberry grows sparsely in some forests. Its decay-resistant lumber makes sturdy fence posts. At maturity the tree might be anywhere from 15 to 70 feet in height, with a full round crown.