Shade Trees for Texas Heat

Summers in Texas can be scorching, but there is a simple remedy: Plant more trees!

Why are shade trees important?

Shade trees not only give you a spot to cool off during the Texas heat, but they have many other benefits.  They can protect the integrity of your home and improve the environment, just to name a few.  Strategically placing the following trees in your yard can help:

  • Protect paint
  • Cool down the internal temperature of your home, which helps save on energy bills.
  • Transform your yard and beautifully mark the seasons
  • Add value to your property
  • Absorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen. The average tree can clean up to 330 pounds of carbon dioxide annually while emitting enough oxygen for a whole family.
  • Absorb odors and pollutant gases (nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide and ozone) and filter particulates out of the air by trapping them on their leaves and bark.

Our favorite Medium to Large Texas-Tough Trees to Provide Relief from Texas Heat:

Cedar Elm

  Cedar Elm

Cedar Elm

Cedar Elm is a medium to large sized tree that forms into an oval-rounded covering.  The tree can grow as tall as 70 feet high and 60 feet wide.  The tree produces dark green leaves that change color and fall in late winter. The tree also produces a small fruit called Samara. This tree is perfect for the summer months because it is highly drought tolerant.

 

Shumard Red Oak

 Tree Afire by Kevin Harbor/CC BY ( Shumard Red Oak)

Tree Afire by Kevin Harbor/CC BY
(Shumard Red Oak)

This beautiful red-leafed tree will not only provide you with shade, but also with a gorgeous view.  It can grow as tall as 115 feet and 59 feet wide. The large leaves change from dark green to a brown and reddish hue in the fall.  Sometimes the leaves will also have a tint of yellow, giving its overall appearance the look of a sunset.  The tree grows an open canopy with thick branches that support it.  Hang a hammock or have a picnic in the massive shade this tree will produce.

 

Lacebark Elm

 Fall Colors by Jitze Couperus/CC BY (Lacebark Elm)

Fall Colors by Jitze Couperus/CC BY (Lacebark Elm)

The small leafed tree has a unique, exfoliating  "lace" pattern bark, which gives it an unmistakable presence.  The bark peels off in a puzzle pattern, which reveals beautiful patterns of multiple underlying colors: gray, green, brown and orange.  It can grow up to 40' to 50' tall and 35' to 45' wide, making a large shaded area for your yard.  This tree can handle harsh conditions, including poor quality soils and harsh winds.  During the fall months, Lacebark Elm tree leaves bloom an attractive fall golden color that adds a terrific addition to any landscape.

 

Live Oak

 Live Oak

Live Oak

Reaching 40 to 60 feet in height with a 60 to 100 foot spread, Live Oak is one of the broadest spreading of the Oaks.  It's low hanging or weeping branches provide large areas of deep, inviting shade.  Why is it called live oak? This tree stays green throughout the entire year!  It can create the perfect romantic spot to nestle up to during a hot summer and enjoy some iced tea.  It is a fairly slow-growing tree, and be sure to give it plenty of room since the trunk can grow to more than six feet in diameter.

Monterrey Oak (Mexican White Oak)

  Monterrey Oak

Monterrey Oak

If you are looking for a medium oak tree that is tolerant to Oak Wilt (a fungal disease that makes the foliage wilt and eventually kills the tree), then look no further than the Monterrey Oak.  This tree can grow up to 45' into a perfect triangle-shaped canopy that's up to 35' wide.  It thrives on extra sunlight, which is why it is perfect for Texas summer months.  The leaves are a bright and shiny green and transform to a soft shade of yellow in the fall.

Here are some small to medium Shade Tree suggestions for smaller sized yards:

Crape Myrtle

Here at Living Expression Landscapes we just love the Crape Myrtle trees.  Crepe myrtles range in size from dwarf selections that grow less than 3 feet tall to several that reach upwards of 30' high and 15'-20'wide.  There are good reasons why this tree is so popular: they love the hot sun and grow great in Houston’s climate and clay-type soil, the bloom cycles of beautiful red-pink flowers are exceptionally long (from early spring all the way into the fall), and  this small-medium size tree fits well anywhere.

 

 

Drummond Maple

Drummond Red Maple
Drummond Red Maple

This is a fast-growing native maple is beautiful and tolerant of our southeast Texas soils.  This variety makes an excellent shade tree and puts on vibrant autumn color if cool temperatures hit at just the right time of year.   Drummond maples can be grown in a full sun exposure or tolerate some shade from adjacent buildings or larger trees.  They can get fairly tall, with many reaching 60-70 feet at maturity.

 

Texas Redbud

redbud
redbud

This native Texas tree is drought-tolerant and not that picky about soil.  This small tree, or multi-trunk shrub, achieves heights up to 20' at maturity.  The foliage is round and a glossy dark green that turns yellow in fall, smothers its bare branches in rosy purple-pink flowers in February/early March, and flat reddish beans in late summer.

 

Deciduous Holly (Possumhaw)

  Holly

Holly

This 8' - 20' Texas Superstar is an outstanding small native tree which is very low maintenance.  It's tolerant of most soils, seasonal poor drainage, heat and drought.  The Deciduous Holly has a loosely rounded form with horizontal and ascending branches reaching up to 6' wide.  It produces nice white spring flowers then drops its leaves in fall to reveal showy red or orange berries (on female plants) that remain throughout the winter.  It accepts shade,  but fruits best with part-shade to sun and a male pollinator.  If you garden for birds, then the Deciduous Holly (aka Passumhaw) attracts songbirds.

Proper tree planting is key to a long and healthy life for your tree. Trees last lifetimes if they are properly maintained and planted in an area where they can thrive the most.  Call Living Expression Landscapes to expertly choose and plant trees that will allow your entire family to enjoy their beneficial function and beauty for a lifetime.  We are also a full-service landscaping design company with 25+ years of experience, so give us a call for you next big or small outdoor project, and let us do all the hard work for you!