As summer approaches, it’s time to think about planting and keeping your house cool. You can save on energy and improve your lawn with a shade tree. Check our list of fast growers.

  • 1.

    Maples bring summer shade and fall color. The Freeman maple (Acer x freemanii) turns red-orange in fall and has a mature height of nearly 80 feet. It thrives in zones 4 through 7.
  • 2.

    The Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis) also offers brilliant color all year, except winter, when it drops its leaves It’s a low-water, sun-happy choice. The tree should grow to between 30 and 60 feet high.
  • 3.

    Trees that drop their leaves in winter are perfect for southwest corners of homes, where they provide summer shade and winter sun. Another choice? Paper birch (Betula papyrifera Marshall), with a white trunk and 35-foot spread. It grows in zones 2 to 7.
  • 4.

    The Northern Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa) has large, oval leaves and showy, almost tubular flowers. This tree can take heat and lower water conditions and still grow to at least 60 feet in height in zones 4 through 8.
  • 5.

    The Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), on the other hand, requires more water, but rewards you with a decent growth rate of up to 80 feet and yellow fall color and tulip-shaped flowers in spring. Grows in zones 5 through 9.
  • 6.

    The Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica L.) has no reason to be sad; it’s one of the fastest growing trees around, at up to eight feet a year in the right conditions. Its canopy can block sun well and it thrives in zones 6 through 8.
  • 7.

    The thornless honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos L.) is a rapidly growing shade tree that produces fragrant spring flowers. It can handle low water and spread to 50 feet for ample shade, growing well in zones 3 to 9.
  • 8.

    If you’re looking for shade all year long, or at least evergreen color, try an Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus). With a narrower canopy, it might be better as a screen tree than a shade tree, but it’s hardy and grows quickly. Suitable for zones 3 to 8.
  • 9.

    The American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) grows up to six feet a year, or 100 feet tall, so place it carefully! The crown could shade an entire yard, and when it drops its leaves, you’ll enjoy the splotchy white bark.
  • 10.

    Finally, plant an edible tree for shade. Apricots provide excellent shade, fruit and blossom color. Two varieties grow more quickly: Moorpark and Early Golden (both Prunus armeniaca) and in zones 5 to 8.  Time spent pruning or harvesting is rewarded!