Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

Noninvasive Shade Trees

By Beverly Nation
Noninvasive trees are less likely to damage nearby pavement.
tree image by lena Letuchaia from Fotolia.com

Planting shade trees that have noninvasive characteristics helps ensure fewer landscaping problems in years ahead. Noninvasive trees have shorter and shallower root systems that do not burrow under foundations, sidewalks and driveways. In addition, landscapers can plant noninvasive species closer to buildings or roads with less fear of damage from the tree’s root system.

Trident Maple

Trident maples provide vibrant fall colors.
Maple-leaf image by HannaSigel from Fotolia.com

Trident maple, or Acer buergerianum, is a deciduous shade tree that grows 20 to 25 feet tall and 30 feet wide. Trident maple thrives in full sun and prefers acidic soil that is well-drained. This tree produces numerous branches that form a rounded crown. Trident maple offers color from spring to fall. In spring, new red leaves emerge that develop into a deep green color. During fall, the foliage changes to yellow, orange and red. Trident maple has a growth rate classified as slow or medium. Landscapers often plant them near patios or streets.

Heritage River Birch

An eye-catching feature of the heritage river birch is its bark.
Close-up of a river birch tree image by ryasick from Fotolia.com

The Cully variety of Heritage river birch, or Betula nigra, is a native of North America with a medium growth rate. Growing 40 to 70 feet tall, it spreads almost as wide. Landscapers choose this tree for its attractive white or salmon-colored pealing bark. Forming a pyramid shape when mature, it excels as a shade tree. Heritage river birch tolerates wet or dry conditions. The cultivar Dura-Heat is smaller and more heat tolerant. Little King, a dwarf cultivar, only grows 10 to 12 feet tall.

European Hornbeam

European hornbeam, or Carpinus betulus, is a versatile tree used for shade, hedges or screens. During spring and summer, foliage is deep green. During fall, foliage turns to yellow. Growing 40 to 60 feet tall, European hornbeam spreads 30 to 40 feet wide. This tree prefers full sun or part shade. In addition, European hornbeam thrives in different soil conditions. Bark is steel gray and appears smooth and muscular. Classified with a slow to medium growth rate, it is well suited for hedges because it is tolerant of constant pruning.

American Smoketree

American smoketree, or Cotinus obovatus, is forms green blooms that appear like masses of fuzzy smoke. Foliage is a deep blue-green turning to red, purple, orange and yellow during fall. Growing 20 to 35 feet tall, it often spreads the same distance. American smoketree enjoys sun or part shade. In addition, it prefers soil at a pH of 5 to 7. Highly adaptable, it tolerates wind, dry conditions and compacted soil.


About the Author


Beverly Nation fell in love with plants while working at a greenhouse. When not gardening, she is writing about gardening or business. She has written more than 75 gardening articles and contributed business articles to Yahoo Business and Yahoo Finance. She holds a Bachelor of Science in education and a Bachelor of Arts in psychology.