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Types of Shade Trees

"Shade trees" is one of those landscaping classifications that has to do with usage, rather than botany. Shade trees are used to accomplish just what their name suggests. They blot out some of the summer sun that would otherwise be pounding down on an area of your property. They can cool your home and/or a portion of your yard. Although evergreens will also accomplish this, the classic shade tree is deciduous, as people tend to want that extra sunshine in winter.

Fast-Growing Shade Trees
Here's my index page on the subject of fast-growing shade trees. This is a good resource for those who need a shady retreat pronto. Often, fast growers pose a challenge in landscaping: they cause us more work, since it's difficult to keep them in check (e.g., certain vines) or keep up with a pruning regimen (certain shrubs). But in the case of shade trees, quick maturation is generally considered a plus.

American Elms: Queen of the Shade Trees
When I'm out for a walk or a drive, I'm always delighted to see an elm tree growing along a sidewalk. For one thing, I simply love the look of these graceful shade trees. For another thing, I feel I'm looking at a piece of history. For, the fact is, an elm-lined street used to be a common occurrence in America.

Shade Trees for Fall Foliage: Maples
Maples are, of course, known mainly for their eye-popping fall foliage color. Leaf-peepers come from faraway regions to the view the display they put on in certain "fall foliage capitals," such as New England. But don't overlook their usefulness as shade trees, too!

The Most Majestic of Shade Trees: Oaks
I grew up on a property that was dominated by two massive oak trees, a red oak on the South side of the house that served as a shade tree, and a white oak to the North that was just plain nice to look at. Given sufficient room, oak trees develop shapely trunks and majestic canopies. Good examples can be found in old pastures.

Unusual Shade Trees: White Ash
White ashes make for nice shade trees to cool summertime backyard retreats. Their fall foliage can turn an unusual purplish color (as the photos in this article demonstrate) -- quite a conversation piece!

Shade Trees for Patios, Decks: Dogwood
We usually think of shade trees as large specimens. Indeed, to shelter a house from the sun's rays, you need something tall. But a patio is another matter. You might want to grow a smaller shade tree just off a patio, so you can sit down and enjoy a cool drink in the shadow it casts. One option is dogwood.

Bloodgood Japanese Maple Trees
Bloodgood Japanese maples can be a good choice for small spaces. This colorful Acer variety is no shrinking violet, but neither will it overpower a patio or small front yard. Peruse my tips here for some growing pointers.

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