Having shade trees in your yard has many benefits. A shade tree can beautify your landscape, can cool temperatures up to 10 degrees with its shade and can even raise your property values. However, planting the wrong shade tree can result in years of regret and even property damage. Make sure you have the correct space for your shade tree and the right shade tree for what you desire.
Consider how tall and how fast you want your shade tree to grow. Faster growing varieties usually have shorter lifespans, but they will provide shade sooner. However, if you plant a tree that is intended to last for hundreds of years, you may not be around to enjoy the benefits of its shade. While some shade trees will only be 30 feet high, some will grow to heights of a 100 feet or more. Select your shade tree by the space you have for it on your property instead of expecting your shade tree to conform to your yard.
Consider the shape and leaf density of the tree you desire. Shade trees grow in a variety of shapes. Oval, round, vase-shaped, weeping and spreading are all different shapes of shade trees. If you want your shade trees to be a windbreak or provide privacy, you should consider evergreens rather than deciduous trees. If you do not want the grass underneath your shade tree to die, you should consider staying away from the shade trees with dense foliage.
Consider what kind of foliage you would like from your shade tree. While most flowering trees are smaller trees--therefore not good shade trees--you can expect brilliant fall foliage from some shade trees. Different species and different varieties of shade trees present different colors in the fall. Yellow, red, orange and purple are all possible hues you can add to your yard by selecting a shade tree which will change leaf color in the fall.
Consider how much work you want to do to maintain your shade tree. Certain trees may require specific soils and fertilizers while other will grow in almost any conditions. You may need to prune shade trees with lower growing branches. Or, you can instead select a shade tree with a longer trunk to prevent low growing branches. Shade trees also drop a variety of fruits, nuts, seeds and blossoms in addition to the leaves they will drop in your yard. Before buying a shade tree, check to see what all it will be dropping throughout the year.
Avoid trees that will be susceptible to wind damage and pests as well as trees that have shallow root systems. Shade trees that are easily damaged by storms will cause you to have to clean up broken branches and could even cost you the life of your tree or cause damage to your home. Trees that attract pests may require spraying to prevent infestation. Otherwise, your shade tree could become unsightly due to damage done by pests. Shade trees that grow a shallow root system can break underground piping and can buckle foundations and sidewalks.