The 7 Best Shade Trees in New Jersey

best shade trees in nj

Summers in New Jersey can be sweltering hot and humid, so there’s no question that shade trees are an important aspect of NJ landscaping. By placing these trees on the east or west of your home, you can save money cooling your home by preventing the sun’s rays from beating down on your home, and they make spending time in the yard much more enjoyable.

When installing shade trees, always take the matured height and of the tree and width of the crown into account, and be sure to set them far enough away from your home and driveway as to prevent future damage to your property. A professional arborist or Certified Tree Expert can help you plan your landscape design.

The 7 Best NJ Shade Trees (In no particular order):

Amur Maple

amur maple as a shade tree

This small tree is an ideal shade tree for close to the house, as it will never grow over your roof. They bloom in the spring with white flowers and are a bright red-orange in the fall, adding a beautiful splash of color to your lawn. They grow to a height up to 25 ft with a crown spread of 20 ft. The amur is drought resistant, prefers full sunlight, and is the most cold-tolerant of all the maples with a hardiness zone range of 3-8.

Did You Know? Extracts from the Amur Maple have astringent properties and are used in cancer research.

Sugar Maple

This tree needs a little bit of space and moderately moist soil in order to thrive. An excellent shade tree, it is also tolerant of being in the shade. It has darker green leaves which turn yellow, burnt orange or red in Autumn. It will not thrive in areas with an abundance of salt in the soil, though it has a broad hardiness range of 3-8. One of the tallest of the maples, it can grow 60 to 70 feet high with a crown spread of 40 to 50 feet, so be sure to distance this tree far enough away from your home to prevent any unwanted visits from tree branches.

Did You Know? The sugar maple has the highest sugar content in its sap of any of the maple species.

Ginko Biloba (male)

Male Ginkos are preferred for ornamental purposes, because the female produces a fruit-like ball that is said to have the scent of, well, baby-vomit. If you’d like a tree that grows tall quickly, the Ginko Biloba grows about one to two feet per year to a height of 50-80 feet. The crown spread is 30-40 feet. This tree should be planted at a fair distance from your home due to its height. There are a number of cultivars available for this tree, but all have green leaves and turn yellow in the fall. They thrive in hardiness zones 4-9 and prefer moist soil. They are not terribly particular about the overall quality or nutrients in the soil. They are considered a salt-tolerant plant and can be safely planted near the road where salt tends to get into the soil most. Be aware: while ginko biloba is used in many remedies, if you don’t know how to properly process it, there are harmful toxins.

Did You Know? The Ginkgo biloba is considered a “living fossil” as it is one of the world’s oldest living tree species. Ginko Bilobas have been around for over 350 Million Years.

Tulip Tree

tulip tree as a shade tree

These trees are native to eastern North America. It’s a very tall tree (80’) when fully grown, with tulip shaped leaves and blooms of orange, green and yellow. Older Tulip trees can be as tall as 200 feet in good growing conditions. They will not bloom for the first 15 years. It thrives in zones 4-9. These trees prefer full sun or partial shade, and should be planted well clear of your home due to their height. Tulip Trees should be planted in the Spring.

Did You Know? The tulip tree is not a Poplar. It is actually a type of magnolia.

Northern Red Oak

red oak shade tree

This native tree has a very distinctive leaf shape with Bristle-tipped leaves that turn red in the Fall. This particular oak handles pollution and compacted soil well, making it friendly to street-side planting. Full sun is ideal, and moderate moisture is fine as the Northern Red Oak is somewhat drought resistant. This Oak grows about 2 feet per year for 10 years and grows 60 to 70ft tall with a crown spread of 45 feet. Like many of the others in this article, this tree should be planted a fair distance away from physical structures for future safety. This tree prefers hardiness zones 5a through 9b.

Did You Know? While native to North America, The Red Oak was transplanted to Europe as early as the 17th .

Pin Oak

pin oak as a shade tree

The Pin Oak has green leaves that turn red in the Fall, enjoys full sun, and will thrive in just about any soil environment throughout hardiness zones 4-8. It can even tolerate moderate flooding. It grows 60 to 70 ft high with a 25-45 ft spread, so plan of the location accordingly.

Did You Know? The Pin Oak’s distinctive shape is considered unique among hardwoods.

Paper Birch

paper birch as a shade tree

The paper birch, aside from being a fast-growing shade tree and native to North America, also features a white bark that add a unique look to your yard. These do not fare well in the city due to pollution. Their lowest branches are just a few feet off the ground, and their leaves turn a bright yellow in the Fall. They grow to about 60 ft in height with a crown spread of 35 feet. Branches are prone to breaking, especially in snowy/icy conditions, so it’s best to steer clear of parking and structures with these trees.

Did you know? The oldest surviving hand written documents in Britain are written on birch bark.