A couple of weeks ago I gave you four smaller shade trees you could use in your yard. Here are seven more, including 6 natives. Maybe one or two could work in your garden.
Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry – Native four season tree
Amelanchier ‘Autumn Brilliance’
- Height: 20 – 25’
- Width: 15 – 25’
- Shape: Multi stemmed small tree with a rounded crown with many small branches.
- How fast does it grow: Medium (over 1’ per year)
- What zones does it grow in? 5-8
Growing requirements: Easily grown in well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Root suckers are common and may result in a shrubby growth habit if they are not removed.
Description: An excellent four-season interest tree. ‘Autumn Brilliance’ serviceberry bears white flowers in spring, delicious fruits in summer, outstanding fall color, and attractive silvery-gray bark. It is a smaller shade tree that either individually or in groups can create shade for a patio, deck or yard.
Amur Maple – Smaller shade tree from the far east
- Height: 15 – 20’
- Width: 15 – 20’
- Shape: It is a small multi-stem round headed tree
- How fast does it grow? Fast (Over two feet per year)
- What zone does it grow? 3 to 8 (although best in 3 to 6)
Growing requirements: The Amur maple requires Full sun to partial shade. It does best in moist, well drained soils, but also tolerates dry soils; neutral soil pH; and road salt.
Description: Its yellow to red fall color is early and often brilliant. The winged seeds (often bright red in summer) hang on the tree after the leaves have fallen, adding interest to the tree in winter. There is a cultivar ‘Red fruit’ that has especially colorful seeds. It requires practically no attention and is able to grow in a wide range of soil types. It is however not native to the US and is considered invasive in some parts of the country. I would not plant it if you were adjacent to a natural area.
Redbud – Smaller shade tree with classic flowers
- Height: 20 – 30’
- Width: 25 – 35’
- Shape: It is a medium growing multi-stem tree with a flat top to rounded headed
- How fast does it grow? Medium (One to two feet per year)
- What zone does it grow? 4 to 9
Growing requirements: The redbud likes full sun to partial shade. It does fine in most soils excepts ones that are permanently wet. It likes regular watering and fertilization.
Description: Valued for its outstanding display of flowers in spring, redbud is an easy to grow smaller shade tree with heart-shape leaves that turn golden-yellow in fall. It is native to areas of North America. Truly a classic native tree.
If you are buying it for eventual shade, you will want to get a single trunk one as opposed to one with multiple trunks. These forms will get taller quicker. The cultivar ‘Appalachian Red’ may or may not get to be the tallest, but it’s uniquely vibrant color makes it one I would keep my eye out for. There are variegated and purple leaf forms, but I expect those to be slower growing than the green leaf variety.
Morton Sugar Maple – Shorter version of a classic
Acer saccharum ‘Morton’
- Height: 40 feet
- Width: 35 feet
- Shape: Starts out egg shaped and matures to broadly oval shape.
- How fast does it grow: Moderate (One to two feet per year)
- What zones does it grow in: 5 to 7
Growing requirements: Grows best in full sun on a moderately moist, rich, well-drained soil. ‘Morton’ is more drought-tolerant than many Midwestern grown sugar maple selections. Don’t use in compacted soils, or in areas with significant salt spray.
Description: This is a smaller shade tree version of the forest tree. It has notable heat and drought tolerance. It has good thick dark green foliage that turns an excellent orange-red. This is one of the larger trees I am recommending and could be used to effectively shade a home’s roof. For more info on this tree click here.
American Hornbeam (Musclewood) – Smaller shade tree for all seasons
- Height: 20-30’
- Width: 20-30’
- Shape: Wide spreading flat to rounded top tree that is grown in a single trunk or multi stemmed form.
- How fast does it grow: Slow (About 1’ per year or a little less)
- What zones does it grow in? 3 – 9
Growing requirements: Easily grown in average, medium moisture soil. Grows fine in any sun exposure from full sun to full shade. It does prefer organic rich, moist soils. It tolerates periodic flooding.
Description: An excellent four-season smaller shade tree, Muscle wood has fluted trunk and branches with a beech like bark that looks great in the winter when the tree gets larger. It has a nice yellow to orange/red fall color. There are cultivars that have been selected for consistent fall color. It is also a native tree to North America (Canada to Mexico) that supports wildlife. It is a slower growing tree, but will reward the patient gardener and can create shade for a patio, deck or yard.
Whitespire Senior Gray Birch – A native with winter interest
Betula populifolla ‘Whitespire Sr’
- Height: 30-40′
- Width: 25-35′
- Shape: Tall, upright habit, with attractive, grayish-white bark with black markings.
- How fast does it grow: Medium (1’ to 2’ per year)
- What zones does it grow in? 3 – 6
Growing requirements: Grows best in full sun to part sun. This birch does not like very alkaline soils. It is bronze birch borer resistant. It should be transplanted in the spring into moist, well-drained soils. It should be mulched and watered regularly during the summer heat. You MUST get the ‘Whitespire Senior’ and not just a ‘Whitespire’. The regular ‘Whitespire’ is a seedling grown variety that does not have the bronze birch borer resistance of the ‘Whitespire Senior’.
Description: This is a popular white-barked birch because of it’s borer resistance but the bark is not as white as the paper birch. It looks best when grown in a multi-stemmed form. Three or more stems look best. This tree also has a nice yellow fall color. Its’ leaves flutter in the breeze adding motion and sound to your garden like few trees do. This is a nice bonus that most people don’t consider and one of the reasons I planted three in my yard.
You should consider planting multiple groups of these trees. They look good under planted with white daffodils in the early spring. This is a nice smaller shade tree with good winter interest.
American Hophornbeam – Another native smaller shade tree
- Height: 25 – 40’
- Width: 15 – 25’
- Shape: The growth habit is upright pyramidal in youth, becoming gracefully rounded with slightly pendulous branch tips with age.
- How fast does it grow: Slow (less than 1 foot per year)
- What zones does it grow in? 3 – 9
Growing requirements: Prefers moist well drained slightly acidic soils. Likes full sun to part shade. Should be transplanted in the spring.
Description: The Hophornbeam is native from Canada to Texas. The “hop” portion of its name refers to the likeness of it’s fruits to those of true hops that are used in the production of beer. American hophornbeam usually occurs in dry soils on rocky slopes, upland woods and bluffs. It features birch-like, dark yellowish-green leaves up to 5” long. Leaves turn a bland yellow in autumn and often drop early.
If you would like to find more cool smaller shade trees for your yard that you may not have known about, you may want to check out the Dirr’s Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs(*affiliate link). It is a massive book that gives descriptions and over 3,500 photos of just about every tree and shrub used in the landscape industry.