by Jennifer Poindexter
Do you need shade in your yard? If so, you might need to consider planting a fast-growing shade tree.
In the home I grew up in, it had a gorgeous master bedroom. The only problem was there were tons of windows and no tall plants around them.
This was a problem because during hot, southern summers that room was unbearable most of the day. If you have a similar problem, consider planting trees around your home.
However, don’t plant just any tree. Pick options which grow quickly. I’m going to share a list of shade trees that fit into this category.
I’ll share their hardiness zones, common growing conditions, and an average idea of growth per year.
Don’t swelter in the warm rooms of your home any longer. Instead, pick a tree or two from this list that might work for your needs and situation:
1. River Birch
The river birch tree is a beautiful, tall tree that stands out thanks to its rich green foliage. This tree is known for reaching heights between forty and seventy feet tall. Plus, it can become as wide as sixty feet.
If you’re interested in a traditional shade tree, don’t overlook river birch. The plant grows well in a variety of soils and remains hardy in planting zones four through nine. You can expect this tree to grow up to two feet per year.
2. Paper Birch
Paper birch is another tree which is hard to overlook. It stands out due to its unique trunk that resembles peeling paper. It also has bright green foliage.
Should you choose to grow this tree, it also grows well in a variety of soils. Paper birch is hardy in planting zones two through seven and can grow as tall as seventy feet. Expect this tree to grow an average of two feet per year.
3. Ash Tree
Ash trees have strong trunks and vibrant foliage. The leaves of this tree are green during the warmer parts of the year and produce vibrant fall colors as well.
If you’re interested in having a range of colors added to your landscape, the ash tree could be for you. This tree grows in a variety of soil types and is hardy in planting zones two through nine. Be sure you have room for this giant beauty as it can grow as tall as 120 feet and grow as much as two feet per year.
4. London Planetree
The London planetree is another traditional-style shade tree with ample green foliage. This tree also grows well in a variety of soil types.
However, in most cases, if you can provide a location with full to partial sunlight and well-draining soil, you should receive better results. Ensure you have space for this type of tree as it’s known for reaching heights around 100 feet. These trees are hardy in planting zones five and higher. Plus, they can grow up to two feet per year.
5. Kentucky Coffee Tree
I have a fond spot for the Kentucky coffee tree since my parents have one in their yard and love it! This tree provides quality shade and subtle beauty where planted.
Another bonus to this tree is it grows virtually anywhere. The tree can adapt to a variety of soil types and is known for being very drought tolerant. A Kentucky coffee tree can reach heights up to seventy-five feet and grows approximately two feet per year. This tree is hardy in planting zones three through eight.
6. Quaking Aspen
The quaking aspen tree is one which demands your attention wherever it’s planted. This tree begins with rich green leaves during the warmer portion of the year.
However, during the fall, those green leaves give way to vibrant yellow ones. If you’re in the market for a larger shade tree, be sure to supply a growing location with evenly damp, well-draining soil and ample sunlight. These trees can grow to be as tall as fifty feet and grow around two feet each year. Quaking aspens are hardy in planting zones two through six.
7. Japanese Maple Tree
Would you like to have a colorful shade tree? If so, you should pay close attention to the Japanese maple tree. This tree’s foliage can range in color from green, white, purple, pink, orange, and red depending upon the time of year.
However, this tree does have specific growing conditions. It prefers a growing location with morning sunlight and afternoon shade. Plus, you need an area with well-draining, evenly damp soil. In turn, you can expect this tree to become as tall as twenty-five feet, grow around two feet per year, and remain hardy in planting zones five through eight.
8. American Sweetgum
The American sweetgum tree is another one that has a soft spot with me. My grandparents had this type of tree in their backyard which produced ample shade for them for many years. If you’d like this tree in your yard, be sure to select a growing location with full to partial sunlight.
However, this tree isn’t particular about soil type, though, it does like evenly damp, aerated soil for its deeper roots to easily dig into. The American sweetgum tree should remain hardy in planting zones five through nine, should reach heights around seventy-five feet, and could grow as much as two feet each year.
9. Sun Valley Maple
A sun valley maple tree is a beautiful option for a shade tree. Not only does it provide vast amounts of shade during the warmer months, but it also provides beautiful color during the fall.
If you’re interested in a maple tree, be sure to provide a growing location with evenly damp, well-draining soil. This tree also needs full to partial sunlight. The sun valley maple typically reaches heights around thirty-five feet tall, is hardy in planting zones four through eight, and grows an average of two feet per year.
10. Bur Oak
When you think of a traditional shade tree, the bur oak may be what comes to mind. This tree produces a strong trunk, many branches, vibrant leaves, and is a great tree to sit under on a hot day.
Bur oak trees grow in a variety of soil types. The main thing is that the tree be provided well-draining soil. Otherwise, it’s low-maintenance and drought-tolerant. This tree can reach heights up to eighty feet, remain hardy in planting zones three through eight, and grow an average of one foot per year. Though this doesn’t sound fast, it’s actually quite expedient for an oak tree.
11. Beacon Swamp White Oak
The Beacon Swamp white oak is a slimmer tree for this variety. This tree grows best in areas with full to partial sunlight.
Though this tree starts off slow, over the years you can expect it to reach an average height of thirty-five feet and grow an average of two feet per year. The Beacon Swamp white oak is hardy in planting zones four through eight.
Hackberry trees are great shade trees as they reach heights around sixty feet tall. This plant also provides a traditional look with a strong trunk and bright green leaves.
If this is the right shade tree for you, be sure to plant hackberry in a location with well-draining soil. The soil type isn’t as important as this tree can grow in most varieties of dirt. Hackberry trees are hardy in planting zones two through nine and grow an average of two feet per year.
13. Northern Red Oak
The northern red oak is another traditional style shade tree. This tree grows best in a variety of soils as long as they’re well-draining. It’s also known for being slightly drought-tolerant.
Expect northern red oaks to remain hardy in planting zones three through eight. Plus, expect these trees to reach heights around seventy-five feet tall. Northern red oaks grow approximately two feet per year.
14. Tulip Tree
Tulip trees not only provide shade, but they also provide a splash of beauty during their blooming season. In the months of May and June, tulip trees produce tulip-shaped blooms. The tree also produces yellow leaves in the fall months.
If you’re interested in growing this tree, understand that it grows well in many soil types, but it must be well-draining. Tulip trees can reach heights around ninety-feet tall, grow an average of two feet per year, and are hardy in zones four through nine.
15. Red Sunset Maple
Red sunset maple trees produce beautiful green leaves during the warmer months and vibrant colored leaves during the fall. Not to mention, they grow to heights around fifty feet tall, so they make excellent shade trees.
Should you decide to grow a red sunset maple tree, be sure to supply a growing location with full to partial sunlight. The tree needs acidic soil that drains adequately. This tree should remain hardy in planting zones four through eight and grow an average of two feet per year.
16. Live Oak
Live oak trees are massive shade trees that reach heights around eighty feet. This is another traditional style shade tree that will require a large growing area.
Once you have a location picked out, ensure it provides full to partial sunlight and well-draining soil. This tree should remain hardy in planting zones eight through ten and grow approximately two feet per year.
17. Pin Oak
A pin oak tree is a tall tree that is narrower than some of the others mentioned on this list. However, it produces vibrant green foliage in the warmer months and rich colored leaves in the fall.
If you’d like to grow this tree around your home, provide a location with well-draining soil. Pin oaks can grow to be as tall as seventy feet and grow approximately two feet per year. This tree should remain hardy in planting zones four through eight.
18. Weeping Willow
Weeping willows are beautiful trees to sit beneath. If you’d like a shaded location in your landscape, consider growing this tree.
When growing weeping willows, be sure to provide a growing location with full to partial sunlight and well-draining soil. Expect this tree to become as tall as forty feet and to grow an average of two feet per year. Weeping willows are hardy in planting zones six through eight.
19. Northern Catalpa
Northern catalpa trees are tall trees which produce green foliage and beautiful white blooms. If you’d like a flowering shade tree, don’t overlook this option.
This tree grows in areas with well-draining soil and isn’t particular about soil type. It can become as tall as sixty feet and grow two feet per year. Northern catalpa are hardy in planting zones four through eight.
20. Dawn Redwood
Our final option is the dawn redwood tree. This is an interesting tree as it’s considered a deciduous conifer. Meaning, it loses its needles each year.
However, this tree should provide excellent shade as it grows to be around one hundred feet tall. Dawn redwood is hardy in planting zones four through eight and grows about two feet per year.
You now have twenty different options for fast growing shade trees. Be sure to consider the height of the tree to ensure your planting area can sustain the tree long-term.
Once you know you have the right sized tree, ensure you can provide adequate growing conditions and are in the right planting zone. From there, you’re ready to plant your shade tree and provide some relief from the sun around your home.
Learn More About Fast-Growing Shade Trees
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