Common Shade Trees

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You can't have a lazy day of summer, drinking lemonade and dreaming under a shade tree, if you have no shade trees in your yard. It will take some work to plant your tree, but then you will have it for the rest of your summer days. Now, you have to decide which shade tree is right for you.


The American sycamore may be just what you are looking for. It can grow up to 6 feet a year. That means you can stick to your budget and purchase a smaller tree, knowing you will have plenty of shade by next year. This tree will grow in almost any location, zones 4 through 9. The thick, deep green leaves turn a golden amber in autumn and fall to the ground allowing sun through when cool weather nudges you indoors. The sycamore will grow up to 70 feet tall and 50 feet wide. Keep this in mind when you plant it, making sure it has plenty of room away from walls, other trees or power lines. This tree is drought tolerant and will grow in most soils.


Maple trees are known for their brilliant colors. However, most of them only show them in the warmer climates. The Crimson King Maple is one of the few maples that keep its purple foliage, from late summer to the end of fall, in the cooler climates. It grows well in zones 4 through 7. You'll get plenty of shade, as it grows to 40 or 50 feet high. It's adaptable to most soil conditions and is drought tolerant.


The American Elm is one of the most popular shade trees in the United States. This tree displays shiny, leather-like green leaves, turning yellow in the fall. It is resistant to Dutch elm disease, which is a problem with many elm varieties. It will grow to a height of between 40 and 50 feet, in a broad shape that can measure 40 or 50 feet in width. It grows in zones 4 through 9, which covers most of the United States. It is adaptable to most soil conditions and is moderately drought resistant.


The sawtooth oak is the fastest growing oak tree and gives plenty of shade at the mature height of 40 to 60 feet. It adapts well to any soil conditions and is drought tolerant. Its zigzag-edged green leaves turn to a stately yellow and gold in the fall. It grows well in zones 5 through 9, which only excludes the most northerly U.S. locations. It allows for a lot of shade with a mature width of between 40 and 50 feet. If you live in a rural area, the acorns will generously feed the wildlife.

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About this Author

Karen Ellis has been a full-time writer since 2006. She is an expert crafter, with more than 30 years of experience in knitting, chrocheting, quilting, sewing, scrapbooking and other arts. She is an expert gardener, with lifelong experience. Ellis has taken many classes in these subjects and taught classes, as well.

Photo by: annkelliott: