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Shade Trees for Middle Tennessee

Spring is a great time to plant trees. As the temperatures heat up, our desire for shade trees often increases also. What shade trees do well in our area? Here are ten great options to choose from to add to your yard if you need some shade.

1.Red Maple (Acer rubrum): Many grow it for its shade as well as its magnificent fall foliage. It is easily grown in our area and likes full sun to part shade. It is a medium to fast grower.

2. White Oak (Quercus alba): Prefers full sun locations and can grow to be a mature height of 80' tall by 80' wide.

3. Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera): Our state tree and boasts beautiful yellow-orange flowers in spring. It usually requires low maintenance and has good fall color.

4. Canadian Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis): If you need a tree that provides screening in an already shaded location, this is a tree for you! The Canadian Hemlock is a pyramidal, evergreen tree that has long, beautiful, thin branches and small cones that reach only 3/4" long. It needs part to full shade. This is a graceful tree that reaches 70' by 35' at maturity.

5. River Birch (Betula nigra): This (shown above) is a fast growing tree that loves full to part sun locations. It thrives in areas where there is excess water. It features pretty fall foliage and popular, light-colored peeled bark. Often it is available as a tree with three trunks, but not always.  

6. Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis): The American Sycamore likes medium to wet, well-draining soils. They also prefer full sun, but can tolerate light shade. This is considered the largest tree indigenous to Eastern North America, topping out at 100' tall and 100' wide!

7. Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum): This deciduous conifer reaches 50-70' in height with roughly a 30' spread. It is a hardy and tough tree in our region with a shape that is pyramidal. It is known for its lacy needles and beautiful fall color.

8. Sweet Gum (Liquidambar styraciflua): It typically grows to 60-80’ tall with a straight trunk. Each leaf has 5-7 pointed, star-shaped lobes.It has beautiful fall color that is a brilliant mixture of yellows, oranges, purples and reds.

9. Horse Chesnut (Aesculus hippocastanum): If you have never seen this tree in bloom in person, you're missing out (shown above)! Magnificent pink or white clusters of flowers (that can be 6" in length) appear in late spring make this tree a beautiful addition to a landscape. It likes full sun to part shade. It can be susceptible to disease such as leaf blotch and powdery mildew.

10. Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora): A Southern staple; a slow-growing tree that matures to be 80' tall by 50' wide. This broadleaf evergreen tree displays huge white, fragrant flowers in late spring/ early summer.


These mentioned will all grow to be at least 50', with many growing taller than that. Always keep in mind a tree's mature size when planting. If there are overhead power lines nearby or you are planting a very large tree directly beside your home, you will want to make sure it will be far enough away to not pose a major problem down the road. We are happy to answer questions regarding what type of tree would work well for your particular space! We hope to see you soon at your locally owned, locally grown Riverbend Nurseries.

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