A large shade tree can be invaluable on hot, sunny summer days and beautiful to look at even when the sun is hidden by clouds. Planting shade trees in a yard or in an urban setting can provide necessary relief from the sun and a good refuge for birds. Disease resistance is an important factor to consider when planting shade trees, particularly when other trees are nearby, as diseases can spread from tree to tree and can be hard to eradicate. While no tree is completely immune to disease, some species are less susceptible than others.
Red Maple trees are easy to grow and have good disease and pest resistance. The United States National Arboretum states they are one of the most popular shade trees in the eastern part of the country. They grow quickly in many different types of conditions and in many areas of the country. The red maple grows anywhere from 20 to 80 feet high depending on the cultivar, but never over 100 feet. The crown of the tree tends to get wider as the tree ages. In fall, the leaves of most red maples turn some shade of red, from reddish-orange to almost purple. The names of the different cultivars often describe what the fall leaf color will be, like Scarlet and Red Sunset. Red Maples are suitable for growing in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 8.
The Washington Hawthorn is a colorful, flowering tree that provides good shade and disease resistance. The leaves of the tree are red in the spring, green in the summer and orange in the winter, while small white flowers adorn the tree in spring and summer and red berries can remain on the tree through winter. The tree grows up to a couple of feet per year to around 25 to 30 feet total in height, and the crown spreads to around 25 feet. Birds love the berries of the Washington Hawthorn, which can be grown in a variety of soils. The tree is resistant to drought and fire blight and does well grown in USDA hardiness zones 4 through 8.
The leaves of the Snowdrift Crabapple are dense enough to provide excellent shade most of the year. The leaves are dark green in spring and summer and gold in the fall. The Snowdrift Crabapple is a flowering tree that has pink buds in the spring that turn into white flowers in the summer and little red fruits in the winter that are attractive to birds. The tree grows around 20 feet high and maintains a round shape with a 20 foot crown. It tolerates many soil types, is a sturdy tree with strong roots and can be found in USDA hardiness zones 4 through 8. It is resistant to scab and verticillium.
Red Maple, Missouri Department of Conservation
Washington Hawthorn, Urban Forest Ecosystems
Snowdrift Crabapple, Arbor Day Foundation
USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, United States National Arboretum