Summer Shade

Check out local landscapers' favorite shade trees.

By Melissa Mauzy


In the middle of the summer heat, nothing beats a cool, peaceful spot in the shade. Planting a shade tree or two in your yard will give you that much-needed protection from the sun during the steamy St. Louis summers. Check out local landscapers’ favorite shade trees.

“The Zelkova Village Green tree has a vase shaped upward branching habit, great for use near the street or driveway. They produce very dense, small oval green leaves in summer with a brilliant yellow fall color. The Zelkova transplants very well and is disease resistant.” David Sherwood, Sherwood’s Forest.

“Acer buergerianum or Trident Maple is a nice, smaller-sized shade tree reaching about 20 to 30' at maturity. This tree has exfoliating bark as it ages and has nice fall color.” Jim Meiner, Prestige Landscape.

"My favorite shade tree in Missouri is the Burr Oak (Quercus macrocarpa).  Having spent considerable time in the South and falling in love with the Live Oak during that time, this tree is about as close as we can come to that experience here in Missouri. There is a gigantic Burr Oak near Columbia, MO, that I visited frequently in undergrad that would take several adults hand-in-hand to reach around its trunk. A mature specimen is truly a natural treasure and can be enjoyed for generations.” Eric Ringhofer, Green Guys.

“River Birch, Betula nigra, is a Missouri native that looks great year-round with its fantastic bark. River Birch's exfoliating salmon to cinnamon bark reveals creamy white inner bark that can be nearly as white as the white-barked birches. The tree is excellent as a specimen or planted in groups for larger lawns. For a stunning look, try planting it in a location with a shady background where the bark will stand out.” Ann Lapides, Sugar Creek Gardens.

“Native to the Eastern United States, the Wildfire Black Gum is structurally interesting with spectacular color throughout the spring, summer and fall. A hardwood variety, the tree is tough as nails but has a delicate-looking branchy structure. At full growth, this shade tree tops out at around 50' in height and 30' wide. As its name suggests, the new growth appears wildfire red and then turns to dark green. In the fall, it will give you a dramatic show of color with deep reds, orange and sometimes purple.” Jim Graeler, Chesterfield Valley Nursery.

“One of our favorite shade trees is the Fall Fiesta Sugar Maple. Sturdy and compact when young, it grows to be a stately, symmetrical tree with thick, dark-green summer foliage. The foliage holds up well to our summers and is resistant to sun scald. Fall brings a vibrant mix of red, orange and yellow throughout the canopy. The tree eventually reaches a height of 50’ by a 40’ spread.” Daniel Mee, Frisella Nursery.