Medium Size Shade Trees
Large shade trees grow from about 75 to 150 feet tall and have their place in large properties and parks. Small shade trees, those under 30 feet tall, can provide a bit of shade for plants in the middle of a lawn. Medium size shade trees, however, fit in the landscaping plans for yards, providing shade for the sunny side of the house, for plants and for people looking for a shady spot to catch a cooling breeze.
Sycamore maples (Acer pseudoplatanus) are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 4 to 7. The tree grows from 40 to 60 feet tall producing lobed leaves--dark-green on the top and green-white on the bottom--that measure 3 to 6 inches across and turn yellow or green-brown in the fall. Yellow-green flowers bloom in May and are followed by winded fruit pods growing in large clusters. Sycamore maple performs best in full sun, but can take a partial shade situation. The tree is salt tolerant and grows well by the shore.
The monarch birch (Betula maximowicziana) is hardy in USDA zones 5 to 6 and likes full sun. The tree grows from 40 to 60 feet tall starting out with a pyramid shape and maturing to a more rounded crown. Leaves grow from 3 to 6 inches long and up to 4 inches wide, turning yellow in the fall. Flowers bloom in April, with male flowers growing in hanging clusters 4 to 5 inches long and female flowers in hanging clusters up to 2 1/2 inches long, followed by nutlets in hanging, cylindrical-shaped clusters.
Bitternut hickory (Carya cordiformis) produces a round, edible nuts, measuring 1 inch in diameter. The tree grows from 50 to 75 feet tall, with 6 to 10-inch long, light-green, compound leaves made up of five to nine leaflets. Leaves turn to yellow or gold in the fall. Plant bitternut hickory in full sun or partial shade, and in a soil that is moist and well-drained. The tree is hardy in zones 4 to 9.
Silver linden (Tilia tomentosa) is hardy in zones 4 to 7. The tree does well in full sun or light shade and a moist, fertile, well-drained soil, reaching a height of 30 to 40 feet. Dark-green leaves turn yellow in the fall, growing from 2 to 5 inches long and about the same in width. Light-yellow or cream flowers bloom from late June through early July, growing in hanging clusters of seven to ten. The flowers are followed by egg-shaped nutlets.