Ideas for shade trees

MarcVSeptember 8, 2013

Looking for ideas for a couple good shade trees for our NJ back yard. The yard is not very big (~3400 sq/ft) and it is in full sun in the afternoon/evening. We have maples out front so I was thinking of doing something different for the back yard. Would like something that is fast growing and has branching structure above head height so we can still enjoy the yard beneath. My wife was interested in Cleveland Pears, but I've seen a lot of negative press in this forum regarding those trees. Having a tree that flowers in Spring would be nice, but I don't want to deal with any fruit.
Your input is appreciated.

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drrich2(6)

What's the tallest height, and the widest canopy, you'd consider?

Is this in the suburbs or an urban area? Does it involve planting near a place where road salt is used during winter?

Are you familiar with Blackgum trees, such as the 'Wildfire' cultivar? Blackgum is alleged to be slow growing by some, but you wouldn't know it from a young one planted in our backyard last year.

What about an oak from the red oak group?

Chinese Elm might look nice.

Richard.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 9:22PM
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MarcV

Richard,
Thanks for your response. I was thinking something in the range of about 40ft high and maybe 20-30ft spread. The area of the yard that I'll be planting in is about 70ft wide and I was considering two trees. It will be in my backyard and I live in the suburbs. No roads near it. Only fields.
I had considered red oak, but wasn't sure if it would grow too big for the space. I actually think I have two red oak saplings growing in my front landscape bed.
I'll do some research on Blackgum and Chinese Elm.
Thanks again.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 9:44AM
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mulchmama

I would look at oaks, definitely. Or lindens. Forget Chinese elms; they're almost as bad as Siberian elms. We have five black gum trees, all very pretty, but they are not considered a large tree. They do grow quite slowly and they will never reach the size you're looking for.

I am very partial to Swamp White Oak and Greenspire Lindens. I also love thornless honeylocusts because they provide beautiful dappled shade, and with their leaflet type leaf structure, they don't really need raking in fall.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 10:44AM
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scotjute

Possibly Eastern Redbud - small tree to about 35'. Has lots of pink flowers in the spring.
Add a white flowering tree and you would have both pink and white flowers in the spring.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 10:53AM
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ttonk(OH 6A)

I've learned all the popular maples (red or freeman) and oaks grow to 50' in height. encountered ones that are known to have a mature height of 30' ish. They are a cross of Shantung maple and Norway maples.
Three cultivars are popular:
Acer truncatum x A. plat. 'JFS-KW202' Crimson Sunsetî Maple
Acer truncatum x A. plat. 'Keithsform' Norwegian Sunsetî Maple
Acer truncatum x A. plat. 'Warrenred' Pacific Sunsetî Maple
The first one is crimson color as the name suggests. I know you said something other than maples but..guess I like maples for shade trees...haha
My second non maple suggestion would be Redbuds.

This post was edited by ttonk on Mon, Sep 9, 13 at 12:28

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 12:21PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

Would like something that is fast growing and has branching structure above head height

==>>> this is not a genetic thing.. its between you and your pruning saw ...

and buying so large.. that it is already above that height.. is NOT recommended ...

BTW.... were you thinking of buying big and having it installed.. or is this a DYI job?? .. if so.. no bigger than 6 to 8 feet ...

also ... you have not addressed what you will be doing in your yard.. other than gazing at your tree... if you have any inclination to garden in a small yard.. avoid ALL maple ...

and do understand.. no tree really stops growing at some magical height... the real variable is annual growth .... it should be apparent.. that a tree that grow 2 to 5 feet per year.. like some of the more aggressive maples.. will exceed your needs.. faster than a tree that grows a foot or two .. but you will be waiting longer to fill a given space ...

i love redbud ... but its not quite an aggressive shade tree ...

in case you are thinking of doing this yourself.. the link is a planting guide.. follow it ... and even if you are not.. follow the watering instructions ....

ken

ps: i am lazy.. can you give yard dimension.. rather than sq ft???

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 1:04PM
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MarcV

Thanks again everyone for your ideas! The redbud looks beautiful, but I think it may be smaller than I want. The honey locust looks promising. I'll have to look into that one a bit more.
Ken, I guess when I mentioned the branching structure I was thinking more along the lines of a tree with a strong central leader and not something that branches off in different directions closer to the ground. I imagine that any tree could be trained to branch higher, but I'm looking for something that won't require aggressive pruning. Yes, I am planning to do this myself and 6' to 8' was about the size I was considering starting with. Regarding yard use, we have kids now that enjoy playing in the yard from time to time, but they're tweens so I'm figuring that will lessen over the next few years. Then it will basically just be our little oasis to enjoy from our deck. I'll probably add a few more landscape beds eventually. As far as the yard size, it's around 40x80.
Thanks again.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 1:32PM
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ttonk(OH 6A)

I wrote and deleted honeylocust as it doesn't give you much dense shade I was told. It gives some lightweight privacy than being truly shady.
These two cultivars are popular:
SUNBURST
SKYLINE
SHADEMASTER

I don't have any first hand experience with honeylocusts. But I do see them on streets.

This post was edited by ttonk on Mon, Sep 9, 13 at 14:19

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 2:15PM
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ttonk(OH 6A)

I was thinking more along the lines of a tree with a strong central leader and not something that branches off in different directions closer to the ground. I imagine that any tree could be trained to branch higher, but I'm looking for something that won't require aggressive pruning.

I guess you won't like redbuds then..

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 2:16PM
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greenthumbzdude

American Elm 'princeton'.....American elms are a classic american shade tree...were very popular until DED came around and killed most of them......there are still selections available like princeton that are resistant.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 2:43PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Oaks are a decent choice. Some grow medium speed. Around here pin oaks are over planted so I tell everyone to get red or scarlet oak. They may bust your height restriction though and I am not familiar with your area's smaller oaks.

Nyssa sylvatica (black gum) is a great tree. Do everything correctly with planting, they are a fussy transplant in my experience but will be polite once established.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 3:26PM
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drpraetorius(7)

For a tree with a strong central leader you could go with
Little Leaf Linden (Tilia cordata)
Pin Oak (Quercus palustris)
Upright English Oak (Quercus robur fastigiata)
Gingko ( but you'll be waiting a long time for the shade)
Sweet Gum (Liquidamber styraciflua)
Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides Looks like a coast redwood but looses it's needles in the fall.)

If you want a flowering tree that is large enough to walk under and enjoy the shade, consider a Yellowwood (Cladrastis kentukia). It is not a tree with a strong central leader, which give that cone or pyramid shape, but it does match your other requirements. It will not get too large for the site. It has a very attractive grey bark, rather like a Beech. It has very good fall color. I is reasonably drought tolerant when established. In late spring it has long white flower clusters like wisteria blossoms. They a usually available from good nurseries and online. Google them. I think you will like the tree.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 4:15PM
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poaky1

Though not flowering (showy) oaks if the space allows are great for shade once limbed up.That is if you NEED to limb them up.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 10:29PM
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tgtcat6

My first reaction was ginkgo as they're unique; I have one that's grown over seven feet in under five years, so I'd say they're relatively fast growing. What about one of the elm varieties?

    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 9:07AM
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ttonk(OH 6A)

How about Katsura tree?

Here is a link that might be useful: katsura

    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 3:11PM
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mulchmama

Ahhh, Katsura -- Micharl Dirr's favorite tree! There can be no higher praise for a tree than to have the man who wrote the book on trees call you his favorite. The fall color is gorgeous, and the crushed leaves under your feet give off a cinnamon fragrance. Good choice.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 11:40AM
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mulchmama

Deleted duplicate and really sick of always having to do this. FIX THIS OUTDATED SITE!!!!!!

This post was edited by MulchMama on Thu, Sep 12, 13 at 18:25

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 11:42AM
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MarcV

I'm very intrigued by the Katsura. Trouble is I'm having a hard time finding a place where I can purchase one. I'd like to get one on the 6' range. My wife is interested in the Linden so that may be our alternate if I can't find a Katsura anywhere.
Thanks again to all of you for your help and great suggestions.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2013 at 2:28PM
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