The best shade trees for Phoenix are those that are native to Arizona, as these trees will grow the easiest and with little to no special care. Selecting the right shade trees for your Phoenix landscape is crucial to enjoying all the benefits and avoiding hassles at the same time. For example, a native tree will provide shade to your home and lawn, lowering indoor air temperatures and air conditioning demands, while at the same time requiring little extra watering or maintenance.
Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis)
The desert willow is a good shade tree for Phoenix lawns with limited space. This tree grows to less than 25 feet tall and wide, with a narrow crown. The desert willow provides shade while requiring very little water and thrives in desert conditions.
Blue Palo Verde (Parkinsonia florida) and Foothills Palo Verde (P. microphylla)
The blue Palo Verde and foothills Palo Verde are also smaller shade trees that usually have multiple trunks. Both species grow easily in desert environments and require very little water.
Ironwood (Olneya tesota)
The ironwood tree is slightly larger, usually 25- to 40-feet tall, with a spreading form and slow growth rate. This native tree likes little water and is evergreen, providing shade year round.
Mexican Redbud (Cercis mexicana)
The Mexican redbud tree is a smaller, deciduous shade tree with spreading branches that is best suited for Phoenix lawns. This hardy native tree has low water requirements, but it often creates some leaf litter on lawns in the winter.
Native Mesquite (Prosopis velutina)
The native mesquite tree is 25- to 40-feet tall and wide with a spreading crown, providing shade. It enjoys desert conditions and is susceptible to few problems except for wind damage.
Desert Fern (Lysiloma thornberi)
An evergreen tree that provides shade all year long, the desert fern is a small- to medium-sized tree with spreading branches. The desert fern is semi-hardy and has low water needs.
Non-Native Shade Tree Choices
Some non-native tree species are also excellent shade trees for Phoenix. If you’re looking for a larger shade tree that’s 40 feet tall or higher, consider the Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis), Chinese elm (Ulmus parvifolia), Chinese pistache (Pistacia chinensis), Eldarica pine (Pinus eldarica) or the live oak (Quercus virginiana). Shade trees for Phoenix landscapes that are 25- to 40-feet tall include the weeping acacia (Acacia salicina), Coolibah (Eucalyptus microtheca) and the Texas ebony (Ebenopsis ebano). Smaller non-native shade trees include the Texas mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora) and the Texas redbud (Cercis Canadensis var. texensis).