Let’s take a second and go back to elementary school science class to ask ourselves, “Why do we need trees?”
Well, we wouldn’t exist without them.
On a basic level, trees provide oxygen for us and work hard to filter the air around us. They give us shade when it’s hot, clean the soil, help combat noise pollution—among other benefits—so it’s no wonder the adage Plant A Tree is one we hear so often.
But, what if your landscape is in shade? Can you still plant trees that will perform well in an environment with little or no sun?
Yes, you can! Here are 10 of our favorite trees that do well in shade.
Cherokee Princess Dogwood
This dogwood is famous for its huge, yet delicate white blooms that emerge in spring, and does best with some shelter. One of the hardiest dogwoods, it will grow to be about 30 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 35 feet. Plant several of those around your home for maximum visual attraction! Relatively low-maintenance. The red berries this tree produces also attracts birds (berries not fit for human consumption!)
Forest Pansy Redbud
Commonly called Eastern Redbud, this shade-tolerant tree is noted for its stunning pea-like rose-purple flowers prior to the foliage emerging. Deer don’t particularly care for it, and they’ll look great in a number of locations: lawns, shrub borders, along patios, or streets. They will grow to be about 25 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 30 feet, and its low canopy makes it suitable for areas that have power lines. Low maintenance!
Appalachian Red Redbud
A spectacular and hardy spring bloomer, with very showy red flowers held tightly on bare branches in early spring, this is a top choice small ornamental tree. It has forest green foliage which emerges burgundy in spring. The heart-shaped leaves turn yellow in fall. Also low maintenance!
A natural beauty, this is one of the most stately large shade trees you can have in your yard. Features dark green foliage which emerges gray in spring, and the serrated pointy leaves turn an outstanding harvest gold in the fall (see photo). Under good conditions, you can expect this tree to live to a ripe old age of 120 years or more; think of this as a heritage tree for future generations!
Low on space? This is a great tree for small landscapes. It features showy white flowers in the spring and has attractive fall brick-red color. A great three-season shade tree! Also a good choice for attracting birds to your yard, but is not particularly attractive to deer who tend to leave it alone in favor of tastier treats.
Fall Fiesta Sugar Maple
A first class, reliable shade tree, featuring a fiery blend of fall colors ranging from yellow to orange and red. Does best in larger landscapes, and is one of the hardiest selections, as it’s adaptable to soils. This Maple will grow to be about 60 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 60 feet.
This evergreen has a dense, full foliage with a tip that is fully-leafed out. This quick-growing evergreen offers great tolerance of heat, humidity, drought, cold, and heavy ice and snow loads. Unpalatable to deer, it makes a terrific perimeter planting. Great for privacy in small spaces.
Degroot’s Spire Arborvitae
Also an evergreen, Degroot’s is a pencil-thin spire-like evergreen accent for home landscape use, with a spiraling tendency of growth, and is hardy and adaptable. Great for hedges and screening.
A delicate and beautiful conifer, featuring soft needles and an open habit of growth, upright and broadly conical. Makes a great hedge! The needles remain dark green through the winter.
This tree has dark green foliage which emerges light green in spring. The ferny leaves remain dark green through the winter. The fruits are red drupes displayed from early to late fall. The peeling brown bark adds an interesting dimension to the landscape.