A Shade Tree is any tree grown primarily for its shade. This term usually applies to large trees with spreading canopies. Shade trees are very effective in reducing the energy used in cooling residential, commercial and industrial structures, as well as actually reducing the ambient temperatures of their adjacent environment Shade trees can also enhance the character of a space by creating sight lines and focal points. They can also be planted to direct circulation and views on a grand scale.


The 3am inventory of shade trees are sold according to trunk diameter (caliper) includes fourteen basic varieties:

  • Acer freemanii
  • Acer rubrum
  • Fraxinus pennsylvanica
  • Liquidamber
  • Platanus x acerifoilia
  • Quercus lyrata
  • Quercus macrocarpa
  • Quercus nuttallii
  • Quercus phellos
  • Quercus Shumardii
  • Ulmus parvifolia
  • Taxodium ascendens
  • axodium distuchum
  • Zelkova serrata

These varieties are all relatively easy to grow and are ideal for shading.

The most popular shade trees are oaks, maples and elms. There are certainly multiple benefits other than shade, and many points to consider when selecting a specific variety.

Things to look for when choosing a shade tree include:

  • Space-Possibly the most important consideration one has for the selection is the size and coverage desired at maturity. Do you have enough space for the canopy as well as the root system? Large shade trees can damage structural foundations, walks and drives and encroach upon utilities, creating a host of problems in the future.
  • Deciduousness– Whether or not the tree loses it’s leaves annually can be an important design criterion for a designer wanting the warm rays of the sun on the façade of a structure during the cold winter months.
  • Growth Rate and Longevity-In general, the faster a tree grows, the shorter it’s lifespan. Additionally, fast growing trees often have inherent undesirable characteristics such as weak crotch formations at limb/trunk intersections and soft structural wood.
  • Foliage Color-Not only in the Fall, but throughout the year foliage color should be coordinated with the surroundings to either contrast or complement both existing and introduced elements.
  • Soil Type, Moisture and Zoning-As for environmental considerations, these are particularly pertinent points to ponder when selecting shade trees. Some shade trees thrive only in sandy, well drained soils, where others will readily accept wet conditions nearly year round. All will be rated for a range of hardiness zones, but if you are not certain, or should you want further information on acceptable soil tolerances, please contact our offices for assistance.
  • 3am Growers has Architects on staff that can understand the intent of your professional design and can provide design assistance on many levels should you or your clients require such services.

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