Shade trees come in varieties of deciduous with large leaves and/or flowers and spreading fir trees. Finding ones that are resistant to diseases is a boon to the gardener, making her job of keeping a garden and a lawn in top shape all the easier. Hardiness zones determine what tree will be able to survive in what climate. The zones in the contiguous United States range from zone three in the north to zone 11 in the far south of Florida and California. Hawaii is zone 11 and Alaska is zones one, two and three.
American beech (Fagus grandifolia) is also known as the Carolina beech. The tree grows to 80 feet tall in forests and to 40 feet tall in the open where it has more room to spread out. American beech is a deciduous tree that produces medium green leaves that turn bright yellow in autumn and flowers that are replaced by nuts in the fall. Its natural habitat ranges from southeastern Canada to Wisconsin, south to Florida and west to eastern Texas. The tree can be planted in a shady spot, but it will grow better in full sun and moist, well-drained soils in zones four through eight. The American beech tree is used as a shade tree, either planted alone or in groups. There are no diseases that the American beech is susceptible to.
Amur maple (Acer ginnala) is native to China, Manchuria and Japan. It is a small deciduous tree, growing to 20 feet in height with about the same spread. It produces leaves that are dark green on top with a lighter green on the bottom and grow to 3 inches in length and pale yellow or cream-colored flowers in the early spring. The leaves turn to a bright red in the fall. Dwarf varieties are available that will only grow 6 feet tall. Amur maple is sized right for small properties as a single specimen tree or for larger areas in a group planting or by a patio. The tree is hardy in zones three to eight, does best in full sun and can be planted in any type of soil as long as it is moist and well drained. The Amur maple is resistant to all diseases.
Carolina silverbell (Halesia tetraptera) is also known as mountain silverbell and is native to the United States. The tree grows to be 60 feet tall and produces white or pink bell-shaped flowers and dark yellow-green deciduous leaves that turn yellow in the fall. It needs partial shade and moist, well-drained soil and is hardy in zones four to nine. The Carolina silverbell is not known to be susceptible to any diseases.
China fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata) grow to be about 30 to 75 feet tall with a 10- to 30-foot spread. The tree produces evergreen needles and small flowers that are followed by small, scaly pine cones that grow in clusters of three or more. It is a native of China and was first bought to North America in the 19th century. China fir needs partial shade to full sun and soil that is kept evenly moist. It's hardy in zones six through nine. It is used as an anchor tree in a grouping of different types of trees or as a stand alone specimen tree. The China fir is resistant to tree diseases.