No matter what time of year it is, it’s a good idea to consider all seasons when you’re planting trees and other vegetation on your property. If you enjoy natural light during the short daylight hours of winter, then perhaps you could choose to plant deciduous trees over evergreens outside your windows so that the sunlight isn’t blocked by foliage once the leaves fall off. Or maybe you don’t want to deal with raking leaves, ever—so you simply decide to completely omit any sort of leaf-bearing tree and opt for some arborvitae or spruce around your home.
Shade Trees: A Smart Move
One seasonal consideration is trees that can provide shade for your property. Sunlight is an amazing resource that provides us with warmth and light, allows us to grow food, and provides us with a source of clean, renewable energy. Especially after a gloomy gray winter, it’s easy to want as much sunshine as possible. But when the temperatures rise in the summer, the sun may actually create a need for more energy usage since homes heat up in direct sunlight without shade, leading to an increase in air conditioner usage and higher power bills.
Finding the right shade trees and planting them strategically around your property is one of the best ways to prevent overheating from sunlight coming in through the windows and hitting the roof and walls of the house. A good source of shade during the summer months will lead to savings both financially and energy-wise, since homes can stay comfortable and cool if they aren’t constantly in direct sunlight.
There are many options to choose from for trees that provide shade. Since homeowners are often primarily interested in the best fast-growing shade trees, we’ve gathered some popular species that might be of interest. A local arborist from Mr. Tree Services can also help you understand some of the different tree types and which might be best for your home and property.
Maple trees are a favorite, and the red maple is no exception. This tree grows up to 60 feet tall and 40 feet wide, featuring silver-tinted bark and distinctive three-lobed leaves. Fall is an excellent time to truly enjoy this tree, as the foliage turns a splendid array of yellow, orange, and red in autumn. During spring and summer, the leaves are a lovely green that will shade your home and prevent it from overheating on hot days.
At an average increase of 13 to 24 inches per year, the red maple is a fast grower, which is why we’ve included it here in our list. This tree likes acidic, moist soil, but wouldn’t do well in dry, compacted, alkaline soil. The red maple has a loose pyramidal shape and an overall solid branch structure, making it a highly attractive option for any yard, lawn, or other outdoor space.
Also known as trembling aspen or golden aspen, this deciduous tree is part of the willow family. The term “quaking” comes from the fact that the leaves are particularly lightweight and tremble even in the slightest breeze. This is part of the reason they’re a popular tree both for shade and ornamental purposes. Another reason is their ability to thrive in many growing zones, making them common all over the country. In terms of growth rate, these aspens will grow more than 24 inches per year.
Quaking aspen trees are often planted in gardens and other landscape settings to create a forest-like ambiance. Spacing the trees close together increases the brilliance of their autumn colors and can serve as an excellent natural barrier to views, noise, and of course, sunlight.
This particular tree produces a large root system, so we recommend you plant them at least 30 feet away from any structures or driveways. If done strategically, quaking aspen will offer plenty of shade and aesthetic appeal for your property.
Northern Red Oak
If a huge shade tree that’s also low maintenance is what you want, then the northern red oak is a great option. Durable, hardy, long-lasting, and fast-growing are some of the characteristics of this tree, and you’ll find it growing and thriving in all sorts of conditions.
The lush green leaves of the northern red oak turn a blazing red or yellow during the fall, adding contrast and color to your landscape. This species grows more than 24 inches per year, eventually reaching heights between 60 and 75 feet. It loves full sun, which will, in turn, allow it to grow big and tall, casting shade over your home.
The American sycamore is quite popular for both shade and residential landscaping because it grows extremely fast. This species is known to grow up to 70 feet tall and gain up to 6 feet annually, providing a thick, tall canopy that offers you plenty of shade quickly.
This type of tree will grow into a full, symmetrical shape, featuring dense branches that develop green leaves that turn gold in the autumn months. The density of the branches and foliage are what provide such excellent shade for your home, protecting it from hot weather during summer. In the winter, the sycamore has smooth, white bark that helps it stand out visually amongst other types of trees.
Added to this, the American sycamore is easy to grow, adapting well to moist soil types and doing well in a variety of climates. It does just fine with some water and sunshine.
It’s hard to mistake this distinctive tree for any other kind, with its low, sweeping branches and a draping canopy. The weeping willow is a well-loved favorite, known for the rounded shape that gives it such a dramatic appearance. It adds character and a classic aesthetic to any property and is one of the best fast-growing shade trees, as it will gain from six to eight feet in a year.
It’s common to find weeping willows near rivers, lakes and other types of water, but they can actually grow in just about any location, even showing a slight tolerance to drought. They’re surprisingly adaptable to all kinds of growing conditions and soils and are one of the last trees to lose their leaves in the fall, providing color through much of the year.
More Questions? Ask a Specialist!
There are many more fast-growing shade trees not covered here. If you want more ideas or information, a certified arborist and tree specialty service like Mr. Tree Services can help answer any additional questions you have and help you decide on the best fast-growing shade trees for your home and garden.