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Recommended Shade Tree Varieties

Shade Trees

Residential and commercial properties can benefit from shade trees. Here is a list of trees to consider planting in the mid-Atlantic area. Placing a shade tree in the correct location can save on cooling bills, provides shade for outdoor activities, increase re-sale value, and block winds from affecting homes in addition to providing food and habitat for wildlife.

Large Shade Trees

Betula nigraRiver Birch River Birch by a river with a birdhouse on it

  • Grows 40-70’ tall by 40-60’ wide
  • Medium to wet soils
  • Multi-stem and single stem
  • Bark exfoliates cream/salmon
  • Drought tolerant once established

Quercus phellosWillow Oak Willow Oak

  • 40-60’ tall by the same width
  • Good resistance to pests
  • Full sun to part shade and medium to wet soils
  • Relatively fast growing for an oak
  • Long-lived with a good tap root and smaller leaves having less impact on lawns

Taxodium distichumBald Cypress 

Bald Cypress in fall
  • 50-70’ tall by 20-35’ wide
  • Pyramidal deciduous conifer
  • Small needles turn orange in autumn
  • Full sun and tolerates clay or medium to wet soils
  • Almost feathery appearance
  • Considered to be extremely resistant to wind damage

Metasequoia glyptostroboidesDawn Redwood Dawn Redwood

  • 70-100’ feet tall by 25-30’ wide
  • Pyramidal deciduous conifer and can be limbed
  • Small needles turn orange in fall
  • Fissured cinnamon-colored bark adds winter interest

Gleditsia triacanthos inermisThornless Honey Locust

  • 40’ tall by 25-30’ wide 
    Thornless Honeylocust
  • Airy shade tree with small, rounded leaves
  • Turns yellow in the fall
  • Prefers well-drained soils and full sun

Gingko biloba

  • 50-80’ tall x 30-40’ wide 
    Ginko bilboa
  • Can take moist to well-drained soils
  • Very long-lived and a slow-grower
  • Great fall color – vivid yellow
  • Leaves are scalloped small and leathery
  • MAKE SURE YOU GET MALE TREES!!! – Females produce very offensive-smelling fruits in fall.

Quercus bicolorSwamp White Oak 

Swamp white Oak
  • 50-70’ tall by 50’ wide
  • Prefers full sun and medium to wet soils
  • This tree would work for blocking the side road near a pond
  • Nice acorn producer for wood ducks

Quercus velutinaBlack Oak 

Black Oak
  • 50-60’ tall by 50-60’ wide
  • A stately oak when mature with yellow fall color
  • Deep tap root
  • Prefers well-drained to moist soils and full sun

Quercus rubraNorthern Red Oak

  • 50-70’ by the same width 
    Northern Red Oak
  • Drought tolerant once established
  • Full sun and well-drained soils
  • Long-lived


Smaller Shade Trees


Nyssa sylvaticaBlack Gum – Tupelo Tree Black Gum tree

  • This tree does not get gumballs!
  • 30-40 by 20-30 wide - a nice smaller tree for the landscape
  • Full sun to part shade and can take clay soils
  • Small white to green flowers in spring attract and provide for bees
  • Tupelo Honey – Turns flame red to orange in the fall – best fall color of any tree if adequate moisture in summer and also produces very small berries which birds relish

Acer palmatum - Bloodgood , Japanese MapleAcer palmatum

  • 20-25’ tall by 18-20’ wide
  • Small, upright maroon-leaved maple for a specimen effect
  • Use against larger evergreens to give it a little shade and it will hold color better
  • Prefers full sun to part shade and medium to well-drained soils
  • Leaves have no real fall color

Acer griseumPaperbark Maple 

Paperbark Maple
  • 20-30’ x 15-20’ wide
  • A nice small specimen maple that offers great orange-red fall color
  • The cinnamon bark peels and is a standout in the winter landscape
  • Full to part sun and moist to well-drained soils
  • Small trifoliate leaf does not harm lawns




Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Pendula’ – Weeping Alaskan Cedar 

Weeping Alaskan Cedar
  • 20-35’ tall by 12-18’ wide
  • Full sun to part shade and moist to well-drained
  • Thrives best if allowed to weep to the ground and easier to maintain in a bed area
  • Likes good air circulation and does not like high humidity
  • Grows in open garden beds best
  • A great specimen and snow will fall off of branches

Pinus strobus – White Pine White Pine

  • 20-40’ tall and wide and fast-growing
  • Prefers well-drained soils and full sun
  • A nice evergreen with soft blue-green needles that shed in fall

Pinus thunbergia - Japanese Black Pine

  • Prefers well-drained soil and full sun
  • Can be long-lived but sometimes all of a sudden one will just die, but still used all the time and worth the effort. Just stagger when planting so the hole can fill in.
  • This irregular spreading pines gets white candles in the spring and summer which offer contrast

Cedrus deodara - Himalayan CedarCedrus deodara

  • 40-50’ tall by 30-40’ wide and a fast-growing evergreen
  • Prefers moist to well-drained soil
  • pyramidal in shape making a nice specimen evergreen


Shady Yard

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