The Best Shade Trees for Your Backyard | Greenstreet Gardens

The Best Shade Trees for Your Backyard

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Trees are one of the most beneficial additions you can make to your landscape. Not only do they add natural beauty and color, but they also attract wildlife and diversify your landscape. But perhaps the best reason for planting more trees is to provide your yard with shade and privacy—elements that will even increase your property value! Improve your 2020 landscape with these towering trees!


Benefits of Shade Trees

For someone who worships the sun, it’s natural to hesitate about adding a shade tree to the landscape. However, mature trees come with tons of benefits for both you and your property, and they can easily be incorporated into your landscape while letting in some warm sunshine.

Hot summer days may seem like a distant memory right now, but it shouldn’t take much reminding to remember how warm it can get here in the midwest. Sure, we’re no Florida, but sometimes a little shelter on a hot day is necessary. Not only will these trees give you a break from the UV rays, but they’ll give your garden a much-needed break, too. Why limit yourself to flowers and plants that can only thrive in full sun, when some dappled shade will only expand your garden choices?

Shade trees also shelter your property from harsh elements like wind and snow. In fact, the right trees can even help to reduce your energy bill by preventing your house from getting too hot during the summer and too cold in the winter. Plus, if your home is nestled close to your neighbors’, tall or dense trees provide your backyard with privacy, so you and your family can enjoy your outdoor living areas in peace.


Best Shade Trees

Luckily, there are plenty of shade trees native to Virginia and Maryland. We’ve narrowed down our favorite shade trees for you, but you don’t have to stop there! Just remember that when you’re selecting trees for shade, look for tall varieties with characteristics like wide canopies, dense branching, large leaves, and a fast growth rate.


Red Maple 

Several large maple varieties can provide your yard with shade, including Sugar Maple, Sycamore Maple, and Silver Maple, but the majestic Red Maple is our favorite. With an impressive growth rate of 3-5′ every year, Red Maples will add some shelter to your yard in no time! Red Maples blend into your summer landscape with bright green foliage, but they put on a breathtaking display in the fall when their leaves turn bright red. This native tree is adaptable to most soil types but grows best in moist, slightly acidic conditions. Red Maples don’t tolerate salt very well, so it’s best to keep them away from the road.


Northern Red Oak

Oaks are towering trees that often have canopies as wide as they are tall, making them ideal choices for shade. The Northern Red Oak, in particular, is a popular choice because it grows faster than other oaks, quickly reaching its mature height of up to 75′. It’s also prized for its handsome leaves and stately form, earning it a reputation as one of the most attractive trees in North America. Tolerant to a variety of conditions, you can grow Northern Red Oak almost anywhere—although it does have a preference for moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soils. 


‘Green Vase’ Zelkova

 Also known as Japanese Zelkova, ‘Green Vase’ is adored for its upright, arching branches and lush green leaves. This tall, vase-shaped tree is an elegant, shade-providing addition to any landscape. It grows up to 70′ tall and 50′ wide, offering shelter and privacy while maintaining an upright, polished appearance. Their adaptability and tolerance to pollution make them excellent choices for lining your property for privacy. They’ll be happiest and grow fastest when planted in rich, well-drained soils that are relatively wet and exposed to full sun.



Linden trees are cherished for their attractive form and charming, heart-shaped leaves. In late spring, they produce clusters of small, fragrant, pale yellow flowers. And it’s not only you who will enjoy the sweet aroma; they’re also a favorite among the local bees, which are beneficial pollinators in your garden. Although it doesn’t grow as fast as other shade trees, keep in mind that your Linden will eventually reach a mature size of up to 80′ tall and 50′ wide! These sky-high shade trees prefer full sun, although they can tolerate partial shade. Lindens are famous for their adaptability—although they grow natively in moist conditions, they’re highly adaptable to a variety of different types of soil, as long as they’re well-drained. 


Shade Trees for Small Backyards

The characteristics of a shade tree—tall, dense, and wide—may not always be ideal for your landscape. If you’re working with a smaller yard, you’ll want to opt for something more compact that will still provide shelter and privacy without completely overwhelming your yard. Flowering Dogwood, American Elder, and Magnolias are all fast-growing, mid-sized trees, which make them some of the best shade trees for a small backyard. 

Allowing the sun to shine in your backyard is a must, but having a cool, shady area to escape from the elements is equally as important. With these lovely shade trees adding dimension, beauty, shelter, and privacy to your landscape, your yard will be much more inviting for the whole family. Stop into one of our locations in
Belle Haven, Alexandria, or Lothian and check out our wide selection of trees in all different types and sizes. 

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