As summer hits and we start spending more time outdoors, the heat becomes more noticeable even in Wisconsin. Planting trees for shade will help keep you and your home cooler, saving you both money and energy when the heat really turns up. If you’re looking for a new tree to provide shade for you and your family, consider these varieties as relatively faster growing trees that can add a lot of natural beauty to your landscape.
A couple things to remember before we begin: planting a tree in Wisconsin to shade your house from the sun requires placement on the south-east, south-west, or western side to provide cooling shade in the summer without obstructing the sun’s warm rays during the winter. Now, on to some of our favorite trees for shade:
1. Kentucky Coffee Tree
The Kentucky Coffee tree is picturesque in summer and presents a bold statement during winter, with the development of very coarse textured branches. A member of the legume family, Coffee tree seeds were used by early North American colonists as a coffee substitute. A lack of significant insect and disease problems and a high tolerance for urban conditions makes this tree an excellent choice for the landscape. The Coffee tree should be planted in wide-open spaces that can accommodate the large size and beauty of this tree at maturity.
2. American Sycamore
If you’re looking for a truly impressive tree, American Sycamores can grow up to 70-100’ when ideal conditions are met. The American Sycamore, or American Planetree, prefers rich, moist soils and full sun. Many remark on this tree’s bark with an exfoliating outer layer that can flake off leaving a pretty contrast with the inner bark. While these trees are commonly found along streams and moisture heavy areas, these trees will do well in backyards across Wisconsin. If you’re looking to care for a real beauty that will stand the test of time, consider an American Sycamore.
3. Northern Red Oak
The Northern Red Oak is a great tree for areas with less than desirable soil while offering great shade due to the dense crown. Plant this tree in your front yard near the street as it tolerates pollution and compacted soils better than most. As an oak, acorns are expected so some clean-up is required, but the beauty and shade offered by this tree is truly unique. Make sure it gets full sun and you can expect growth of up to 2 feet a year up to 60’ to 75’ at maturity. This tree will do well throughout Wisconsin and zones 3-8.
Another fast-growing shade tree, the Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera) is known for its bright green leaves that turn golden yellow in the fall. This flowering tree can be expected to bloom in May and June, producing tulip-shaped flowers with greenish-yellow petals with an orangey base. If that wasn’t convincing enough, the stems of this beauty are known to be quite aromatic. Wildlife, including birds, love this tree with flowers providing nectar for hummingbirds. Give this tree full sun and moist, slightly acidic, and well-drained soil and expect heights up to 90’ at maturity.
Gingko is an ancient tree with the earliest leaf fossils dating back 270 million years. It is well suited for the urban environment because it is resistant to insect and disease problems and can tolerate drought, heat and poor soil conditions.
This tree needs a lot of space, as it grows to be a large, picturesque tree that can live many years. The leaves have a very interesting shape, which flutter in the wind and turn a brilliant yellow in the fall.
6. Swamp White Oak
The swamp white oak is a beautiful large shade tree, best suited for larger landscapes with ample room to grow. It is one of the easiest oaks to transplant, but does require acidic soil. The leaves are interesting with a medium green color and a whitish color on the undersides. Once established, it is quite tolerant of urban conditions, however, it is not very drought tolerant. Deer are known to feed on the leaves or bark so depending on your area, you may or may not be looking for this kind of attention.
And there you have it. You can find shade under most trees, but these 6 are some of our fast growing, canopy dense favorites that grow well throughout Wisconsin. Still undecided on the right tree for your area? Feel free to give us a call and talk to an arborist for a professional opinion unique to your landscape.