7 Best Shade Trees for Utah

Utah’s weather tends to be pleasant during the summer months, but that doesn’t mean that people don’t need a shade tree or two to keep them cool. But what type of shade tree works best in this part of the country? The answers may surprise some people.

When people think of shade trees, most of them think of maples, but it is possible to find other shade trees that work great in this part of the country. Before purchasing a shade tree, it’s good to think about how big it’s going to get once it’s fully grown.

Just because the tree is cute and tiny when it’s young doesn’t mean that years from now, it won’t be too big for someone’s yard. Consider the size the tree will be once it’s fully grown so that the yard can accommodate it in the future.

Also, take into consideration how the tree will grow. In other words, will it grow out, up, or both? This is a factor that can also affect the type of tree purchased in the end.

If it sounds confusing, not to worry. Below are some of the shade trees that grow best in the state of Utah, so it should be simple for homeowners to find the perfect tree for their yard.

Related: Types of pine in Utah

1. Boxelder Trees

Acer negundo
Wendy Cutler Boxelder tree (acer negundo)

Boxelder trees are a type of maple tree and don’t always provide a lot of color to the yard. The wood is softer than most other types of wood and, therefore, the branches sometimes break when there is a winter storm or too much ice.

Nevertheless, boxelders are easy to grow and can withstand most mild, cool, or cold areas of the country. In fact, the USDA has identified them as being perfect for growing zones 2 through 9, which includes most of Utah.

Boxelders are also great trees to outline the garden or yard with, which is why they are often planted along the banks of a river. For yards with a pond in them, planting a few boxelder trees around the pond allows for a very attractive yard indeed.

2. Ohio Buckeye Trees

Ohio Buckeye Aesculus glabra.
Daderot Ohio Buckeye (Aesculus glabra).

The Ohio Buckeye tree grows to around 35 feet high and 35 feet wide, and their tiny yellow flowers give any yard a lot of color. They are easy to grow and work great as both an accent tree and a shade tree. They also live for around 60 years or more.

Ohio Buckeye trees grow well in all types of soil, so there’s no need to be concerned about the soil’s pH level. They are beautiful in the fall, but they need to be pruned once the threat of extreme cold weather has passed.

Finally, these trees are perfect for people who love squirrels because they do a great job of attracting these animals to the yard. They even do well in cities because of their tolerance to pollution and the extreme weather conditions often found there.

3. Chestnut Trees

Sweet Chestnut Tree
gailhampshire Sweet Chestnut Tree

Chestnut trees are in the same family as oaks and beeches, and there are nine different types of them. They are popular all over the globe, and one of the reasons for their use as a shade tree is that they can reach up to 100 feet in height, making them quite massive in size.

For people who want to grow these trees and who actually want to eat the chestnuts, it’s not a good idea to buy a horse chestnut tree because those nuts are not edible. Also, they need soil with a pH level of 4.5 to 6.5 to be successful.

Chestnut trees get to be very old, with some of them living a full 800 years. Also keep in mind that the chestnuts themselves take three to seven years to show up, so they’re not going to be there right away.

4. Mimosa Trees

Albizia julibrissin
Natureboy1977 Mimosa Tree (Albizia julibrissin)

If the yard gets a lot of full sun, mimosas can make great shade trees because they need this full sun to grow properly. Also called a silk tree, mimosa trees have soft, adorable pink flowers that make them both a great shade tree and an attractive tree as well.

The first thing to keep in mind when considering mimosa trees is that they are not for everyone. Why? Because they are high-maintenance trees that require time and a lot of attention all year long. Still, for those who are patient, these are great trees to have in the yard.

Mimosa trees grow up to 40 feet tall and can grow 20 to 50 feet in width. They can live up to 20 years or so, and they attract bees because of their nectar. Even though they can be difficult to care for, they are worth it in the end because they look great and work great as a shade tree.

5. Birch Trees

22792934 sunrise in the autumn forest
mady70 River Birch in the autumn forest.

While not as gorgeous as maple trees in the fall, birch trees usually have beautiful yellow leaves to enjoy at that time of year. Because there are many different types of these trees, they are frequently planted for the sole purpose of providing shade to an outdoor area.

Birch trees look great and provide great shade, but their bark is also known for its medicinal purposes, making this a very versatile tree. Nevertheless, this is a sometimes difficult tree to keep alive, so it isn’t the optimum choice for beginners in the world of gardening.

Birch trees always have to be planted in soil that drains well. The soil needs to be kept moist and cool, because the roots won’t grow if it gets too dry. If they don’t die in the first few years, they will grow up to 40 or 50 feet in height, providing a lot of shade for many years.

6. Hornbeam Trees

A European Hornbeam Carpinus betulus
Andrew Gray A European Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus)

The Pyramidal European, Emerald Avenue, and Frans Fontaine hornbeam trees work especially well in Utah, and this is one tree that can accommodate the soil and typically get to 40 feet high and around 25 feet in width. Better still, they can grow with both full sun and in partial shade.

Hornbeam trees can be planted as accent trees, shade trees, and even as hedges or screening. They tend to be tolerant of most conditions, and they aren’t even that picky when it comes to the type of soil or even the pH level of the soil in a yard.

Hornbeam trees can also live to be 120 years old, so if someone plants them in their yard, they can think of them as a legacy to their years as a gardener.

7. Maple Trees

313487 beautiful red maple tree
Sandralise Beautiful red maple tree.

Let’s end with the most obvious shade tree – the maple tree. Maple trees can grow to 20 feet high or as much as 45 feet high and even higher, so it’s up to the homeowner which one to choose. They can also have spreads that are equally as large.

Of course, most people buy maple trees because of all the beautiful leaf colors they get to experience in the fall. Maple trees also tend to be easy to grow as long as they are planted in partial or full sun.

Because of the maple trees’ massive size, it is recommended not to plant them anywhere near power lines. Maples are beautiful trees that can be used to accent a yard or as a way to create shade for those warmer days – or both! They are a versatile tree for sure.