Trees that are used for shade in Utah are indigenous to the western Rocky Mountain area, able to grow in higher altitudes. Shade trees do not have to be tall in order to provide the shade the garden needs. Shade trees in Utah grow as short as 20 to 30 feet tall and as high as 150 feet.
Rocky Mountain Maple
Rocky Mountain maple (Acer glabrum Torr.) is native to the mountains in the Western United States. The tree grows up to 30 feet tall with green, deciduous leaves that change to yellow or red-orange in the fall. The yellow flowers are fragrant and bloom in April and May. Plant Rocky Mountain maple in full sun and a soil that is rocky, moist and well-drained.
Mountain birch (Betula occidentalis Hook) is also known as water birch, a tree that grows from 20 to 30 feet tall with more than one trunk covered in red-brown bark. The tree produces leaves that are bright green on the top, yellow-green on the bottom and bright yellow in the fall, with yellow flowers that bloom in April. The plant’s natural habitat are woods, ravines, river and stream banks and bottom-lands in the Southwest and Rocky Mountains. Plant mountain birch in full sun, partial shade or full shade and a soil that is moist.
Arizona ash (Fraxinus velutina Torr), also known as velvet ash, is a member of the olive family. The deciduous tree grows up to 40 feet tall with a rounded crown. The leaves, which resemble those of a palm tree, turns yellow in the fall; the yellow flowers bloom in April and May. Plant Arizona ash in full sun and a dry, rocky soil.
Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa P. & C. Lawson) grows 60 to 150 feet tall with cinnamon-brown or yellow-orange bark, red-yellow flowers that bloom in April and dark, gray-green or yellow-green needles. The tree is native to the West Coast from British Columbia through South California and as far east as Wyoming and Texas. Plant Ponderosa pine in full sun, partial shade or full shade and in dry to moist sand, gravel or clay loam soil. The tree is drought-resistant and attractive to butterflies.
Narrow-leaf cottonwood (Populus angustifolia James) is a deciduous member of the willow family. The yellow-green leaves resemble those of a willow tree with white flowers that bloom in March April and May. Plant narrow-leaf cottonwood in full sun and a wet soil. The tree has an extensive root system that makes it a choice for erosion control, is native from Alberta and Saskatchewan as far south as Mexico and as far east as Texas.