About Shade Trees


Shade trees are valuable additions to landscapes, especially in the heat of summer when hot sun rays limit time you want to spend outdoors. Although there are many excellent shade tree varieties, there isn't one type of tree that's considered to be superior to others without some qualifications, notes the University of Missouri. Often homeowners are drawn to a particular shade tree without considering their landscape, only to later realize it's not suitable due to size and other factors.


Maples are one of the most popular shade trees. Norway maples have a thick canopy which casts deep shade. Red maples are green during summer, but they turn red in the fall. Although these maple trees can tolerate poor drainage, they can't take alkaline soil. The common hackberry is another widely grown shade tree that can tolerate various soils. The honey locust is a popular shade tree that offers filtered shade. Oak trees are excellent shade trees, such as red oaks and pin oaks. Other common shade trees include the paper birch and Japanese white birch.


The most common shade borers are moths and beetles. Shade tree borers start attacking underneath the bark of a tree. Many moths and beetles attack when they're in their larval or immature stage and when they're adults they cut a hole through the bark and emerge. They typically lay eggs on bark in small cracks. Controlling these pests involves keeping trees healthy. Apply insecticides as soon as insect eggs are found on tree trunks, advises Colorado State University.

Shade Tree Decline

Shade trees, such as maples and oaks, can suffer from shade tree decline. Usually this problem is due to tree stress which causes a tree's health to deteriorate. Tree stress can lead to insect infestations or secondary pathogens, causing continued decline. According to the University Of Kentucky College Of Agriculture, common symptoms are decreased stem and twig growth, late spring flush, premature fall coloration and leaf drop. Shade tree decline can also be caused by poor soil conditions or bad weather.


The University of Missouri cautions not to buy trees that are likely to be damaged in storms. Avoid trees that are more prone to pests and diseases than others. Some trees produce undesirable fruit or seeds that can litter a yard. Other factors to consider when buying a shade tree include soil type and how much space is available for top and root growth. Also, consider the types of plants that can grow under a shade tree.


If a shade tree shows signs such as poor growth, leaf discoloration, early leaf loss or mottled patterns between leaf veins, there's a good chance it's suffering from low nutrition. The University of Missouri Extension recommends checking tree growth by measuring the distance from the tip of a twig downward to the next bud scale scar ring to determine how much a tree has grown in a season. In other words, tree growth is measured between the first and second bud scale scars.

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About this Author

Venice Kichura has written on a variety of topics for various websites, such as Suite 101 and Associated Content since 2005. She's written articles published in print publications and stories for books such as "God Allows U-Turns." She's a graduate of the University of Texas and has worked in both Florida and Connecticut schools.