If the heat of summer has reminded you that you would love to add a shade tree to your yard, now is the time to make it happen.  Fall is a perfect time to plant because soil is warm but the days will be cooler.  This offers an ideal environment for the tree roots to establish before winter cold sets in.

Careful Consideration

Before jumping into picking a tree and planting, there are a few things to consider:

Growing conditions:  Think about the growing conditions in North Texas and choose a tree that will do well in this climate without needing a lot of special attention.  Also consider your soil – is it heavy clay?  Does the area receive a lot of water runoff?  Will the tree receive full sun?

Size:  That sweet little seedling that looks so charming in the nursery may grow too tall for your landscape site. While you may think that you have lots of room be familiar with the mature size of your tree choice because many can reach a height of 50 feet or more and have a canopy that is just as wide.

Year-around interest:  You know you want a shade tree, but would you like one that offers pretty spring flowers?  Maybe you would prefer spectacular autumn color?  Is bark interesting to you? Trees offer a variety of seasonal interest so pick one that will appeal to you throughout the year.

Below is a review of 5 shade trees you will love.  Read through their characteristics and see which one most interests you. And which will work best for your conditions.


Maybe the top three qualities of on oak are their sprawling canopies, knotted branch formation and their attractiveness to wildlife.  These majestic trees offer a stately presence for any large landscape and make a wonderful refuge for native birds. Their thick canopy makes them a popular shade tree.  The southern live oak is native to the southeast making it a hardy choice for North Texas yards.

Most oaks require very little water.  Be careful not to plant them in conjunction with plants what need moisture because this can cause root disease.  Oaks are often labeled “Mighty” for a reason – they can grow to be over 60 feet tall and 80 feet wide.  Check sizes according to the variety.


If blazing fall color appeals to you then consider a maple tree.  This species also offers of wide assortment of mature sizes.  Maples are loved for their unique leaf shape and their adaptability to many landscape situations.  The bigtooth maple is a beautiful western native specimen that offers a straight trunk and that amazing fall color.

The maple varieties grown to provide shade have moderate water requirements, will need full sun and can grow to 50 feet tall and wide.


While not as well-known as the oak and maple, lindens are a wonderful choice for a shade tree. Primary attractions include sweet heart-shaped leaves and fragrant flowers.  Their bold upright structure makes them highly desirable for a shade garden.  Flowers bloom early in summer and offer dangling creamy clusters that are very attractive to pollinators.

Their hardiness is determined by variety and they require only moderate summer water. The linden has a lovely, large habit that can grow to over 100 feet tall and around 30 feet wide.


You can’t think about southern shade trees without considering a magnolia.  These magnificent specimens offer large, glossy leaves and beautiful blooms.  They have a celebrated status in the south, with the Southern Magnolia being considered a native.  This variety has sizable cup-shaped blossoms and shiny bronze leaves.

They can flourish with partial to full sun and have only moderate water requirements.  Magnolias can be wonderful trees for climbing, growing up to 60 feet tall and 50 feet wide.

Fruit Trees

Don’t discount fruit bearing trees as a good choice for shade providers.  Their medium-sized habit can be perfect for the smaller garden landscape.  Along with being a lovely shade option, you will be blessed with sweet produce.  Consider growing apple, peach, plum, cherry or persimmon.  Because ripe fruit will fall from the tree, you should think about planting them away from a patio.  Aside from the fruit production, most also offer sweetly fragrant spring blossoms.

While water requirements are typically moderate, you will need to provide consistent moisture during fruiting season.  Size will vary by variety but typical size is 15 to 25 feet tall and wide.

Of course there are lots more species to choose from but these five shade trees should have characteristics you will love.  Pick the one that best matches your growing conditions and also meets your “must have” qualities – then enjoy it for many years to come.