Many local, native trees provide cooling shade for you, your family, your home, and your neighbourhood. They also provide food and shelter for birds and pollinators, add vibrant colour, and can even increase property value. Here are our three favourite hardy shade trees best suited to urban yards.
Northern red oak
These trees grow almost anywhere. They’re drought, salt, and juglone tolerant, so you can plant them in areas where road salt is used or near black walnut trees. Supporting over 500 species of butterflies and moths, local oak trees offer birds a caterpillar buffet. When you plant one, you can feel good knowing you’re increasing biodiversity in your community.
Freeman’s maple is an easy-growing, naturally occurring hybrid of red and silver maple. It’s valued for its tiny, delicate spring flowers, classic maple leaves, and drought and heat tolerance. It doesn’t mind getting its feet wet and grows well in wet conditions. It supports a variety of butterflies and moths, including the eastern tiger swallowtail and bantam maple dagger moth.
Another good plant-anywhere tree, common hackberry can withstand drought, winter salt and high foot traffic. Part of the elm family, common hackberry is a great alternative to the disease-prone American elm. The tree’s corky bark is most noticeable in winter, which is when birds visit it to gobble up leftover fruit.
Use our native plant nursery list to learn where you can purchase one of these trees for your yard.