Five Best Shade Trees to Grow in the Atlanta Area

sun shining through oak tree

Trees are a breath of fresh air in the middle of an overrun city. They are a place to relax with a great book in a park. They provide beauty, block out sound and create a sense of calm. Our residential and commercial landscapes here in the Atlanta area improve curb appeal, conserve energy, and block our property from prying eyes. Trees bring a plethora of benefits to the world, so it’s no wonder our area is filled with a variety of them.

Here in Georgia, with our hot, sticky summers, having trees in your yard provides much-needed shade. Trees and shrubbery will help cool down the temperatures in your outdoor space up to 25 percent. They can also increase water retention in your soil and prevent water from evaporating and drying out quickly. If you are looking to upgrade your business or residential landscape any time soon, invest in a few trees and shrubs. Your friends at Environmental Turf Management have provided a list of five of the best shade trees that will grow well in our region.

Best Shade Trees to Grow In the Atlanta Area

Oak Tree

When it comes to shade, it’s hard to beat the durability and strength of an oak tree. Their pyramidal shape spreads out with open arms offering protection from sunlight and any other outdoor elements. There are over 20 native types of oak trees in Georgia, and while most are from the deciduous family, our state tree, the live oak, is one of the few evergreens.

While oak trees are generally tolerant of various climate conditions, different varieties of oak trees meet different landscaping needs. For those with larger yards, a southern live oak can provide shade up to 160 feet in diameter. If it’s the vibrant color you are looking for, the bloodleaf oak turns a gorgeous deep red in the fall. It also grows well in both sun and shade. If you have a new home and are looking for something that grows a bit faster, the pin oak, willow oak, and laurel oak will suffice.

Red Maple
While there are many varieties of maple trees in Georgia, there is nothing more eye-catching than the scarlet red and deep purple of this tree in the fall. The red maple is thick and full of coverage and offers plenty of shade. It can grow up to 60 feet tall and 40 feet wide with a pyramidal shape.

When planting a red maple, choose a moist site located in full sun or partial shade. If the site isn’t naturally moist or wet, you will need to irrigate this charming tree frequently throughout its life. Red maple trees can grow in a variety of soils but prefer acidic to neutral

Chinese Pistache
For smaller areas, we recommend the Chinese pistache. A medium-sized tree, it grows to approximately 35 feet tall and has a wide rounded shape. In the fall, its colors sparkle between a fiery red to a brilliant orange. It is a native of Asia and tough as nails. The Chines pistache grows quickly in partial shade to full sun and can withstand heat and drought well. It will grow in almost any type of soil as long as it is well-drained.

The most unique thing about the Chines pistache? It is often referred to as the ugly duckling because, during the growing season, a lack of sun can cause it to have a distorted figure. Its ordinary, dark green leaves are often seen as unattractive. Then in fall, its beautiful colors suddenly cause this plant to come to life, becoming one of the most beautiful trees to line the streets of Atlanta.

For a lawn that is near a swamp or is prone to flooding, the tupelo tree thrives. These soil conditions make trees hard to find, but this beautiful plant is perfect for these soil conditions. This native tree is charismatic and displays horizontal branches, small blue-black fruits, and tiny green-white flowers. The most common tupelo tree is the black gum tree. They stand up to 80 feet tall, and their leaves turn lovely shades of red, orange, yellow, and purple.

They are hardy trees and will tolerate bouts of drought and excessive heat. Growing conditions for the tupelo tree include full or partial sun and deep, acidic, moist soil. 

For those of you who are trivia buffs, the tupelo is often referred to as the pioneer’s toothbrush. This is because when a small, brittle twig is broken off sharply, it contains a bundle of woody fibers on the end that were once used to clean teeth.

If you are looking for a tree that spreads out a canopy of shade over your yard, this is the right one. Like the tupelo, it grows well in swamps or areas prone to floods. It can grow in size up to 70 feet in height and is a deciduous conifer, which means it is an evergreen but loses its needles in the fall. The baldcypress features short needles and produces cones that appear as little globes that attract various wildlife. In the spring, its needles are yellow-green. In the summer, soft green to reddish, and in the fall, they turn to orangish brown.

The baldcypress prefers full sun and thrives in acidic, moist, sandy, or well-drained clay soils. Scientists and arborists have studied the baldcypress for years because it has a tendency to develop “cypress knees” in wet conditions. The function of these growths is not known and has inspired poets throughout the years to write about its mysterious appearance.

Get Help From the Experienced Professionals. Contact Environmental Turf Management for All Your Tree and Shrub Care Needs

Not sure which trees will best suit your landscape? Get help from the professionals at Environmental Turf Management. We care about your beloved lawn ornamentals, and our experienced technicians will consult with you to determine the best placement for each one. We will factor in your type of soil, the amount of sunlight your lawn receives, and rainfall.

We also offer a tree and shrub care program to care for and help maintain your trees and shrubs. We use the best available products and the latest equipment to deliver effective and affordable tree spraying and fertilization to home and business owners in Atlanta and the surrounding regions. Environmental Turf offers a six-application process specially designed to protect and preserve your ornamental plantings. Contact us by phone at 1-770-467-3851 or online now to learn more.

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