Summer is always a reminder of how sweet shade can be. If you are looking to do a little landscaping around your home or business, you may be considering natural forms of shade, such as that provided by trees. So what type of trees should you plant for shade?

There are many types of trees to choose from as almost all trees provide some type of shade. The type of tree you choose could depend largely on where you live, what your climate is like and what temperature zone you are in.

For the very low desert, there are a handful of trees that provide great shade without requiring too much water. These trees include the Chinese Elm, Desert Willow, Mesquite, Texas Mountain-Laurel, Texas Redbud, or Coral Gum. These trees are natural desert growing trees, which make them less susceptible to drought conditions and the heat.

If you live in a higher desert climate there is the blooming silk tree or Mimosa Pudica. One can also choose any trees from the Ash or Fraxinus family. Both of these trees are known for their color with the Ash being even more brilliant during the fall. The Ash also requires little water and has few bug and disease problems.

Living in a climate with plenty of rain, you may want a fast growing shade tree. Such trees include:

1. Sawtooth Oak – The Sawtooth Oak (Quercus acutissima) is an oak originally native to eastern Asia, in China, Korea and Japan. It is closely related to the Turkey Oak. It is characterized by shoot buds surrounded by soft bristles, bristle-tipped leaf lobes, and acorns that mature in about 18 months

The Sawtooth Oak has a beautiful spreading canopy and wonderful late fall foliage that begins as a yellow and then graduates into a golden brown. This tree at maturity can grow as tall as 40 to 50 feet. The Sawtooth likes full sun and is typically grown in zones 5-9.

2. Autumn Blaze Maples – This tree is a combination of the silver maple (Acer saccharinum) and the red maple (Acer rubrum). Its scientific name is Acer freemanii. The tree‘s patented name is Autumn Blaze due to its bright red-orange fall canopy. This tree has become the most sought after tree in the U.S. due to its color and vigor. The growth rate on this tree is 2-4 times faster than rubrum maples. Like many trees, it really comes into its own in the fall.

3. River Birches -Betula nigra (River Birch; also occasionally called Water Birch) is a species of birch native to the eastern United States from New Hampshire west to southern Minnesota, and south to northern Florida and east Texas. It is commonly found in flood plains and/or swamps. This tree grows up to 80 feet in height and on occasion up to 100 feet. These trees are fast growing and have a wonderful yellow foliage in autumn and a year-round beautiful bark. These trees love full-sun and will tolerate partial shade. While its native habitat is wet ground, it will grow on higher land, and its bark is quite distinctive, making it a favored ornamental tree for landscape use.

4. Leyland Cypress Trees – Cupressocyparis leylandii (syn. Callitropsis × leylandii), often referred to as just Leylandii, is a fast-growing evergreen tree much used in horticulture, primarily for hedges and screens. These trees have are known for their rapid and thick growth which means they are sometimes used to enforce privacy, but such use can result in disputes with neighbors whose own property becomes overshadowed.

With these trees, each individual tree is slender, so they are typically planted in a row. Leyland cypress trees are best grown in zones 6-10.

As one can imagine, this short list only represents a small handful of shade trees available for one’s use. The number is limitless, depending on where you live, how fast you want your tree to grow as well as other benefits.

About the Author: Andrew Johnson is the owner of Central Texas Tree Care, a leading provider of Austin tree services in Central Texas. Certified ISA Austin arborist services including: tree trimming, tree removal, tree care and stump removal. For more information on Austin tree service please visit

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