8 USDA Zone 10 Shade Trees (Including Fast-Growers)

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Written By Shannon Campbell

Off-Grid Gardener & Food Forager

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Home » USDA Zone 10 » 8 USDA Zone 10 Shade Trees (Including Fast-Growers)

Since all of the hottest states in the US fall under USDA hardiness zone 10 in some areas, summers can creep up to extremely hot temperatures.

During the hottest parts of the year, shade trees are a necessity for homeowners. They provide an outdoor space to cool off under and escape from the sun, as well as cover part of your house to help reduce your AC bills.

There are plenty of excellent shade trees available to zone 10 gardeners, and some will even reach up to ten feet in just 2 or 3 years! These are 8 effective zone 10 shade trees for your property.

8 Shade Trees Fantastic for Growing in Zone 10

1. Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum)

Bald Cypress Trees
Image by Ben Cappellacci via Flickr

A stunningly beautiful deciduous conifer, the Bald Cypress is a mainstay of many domestic and wild landscapes in the eastern United States, particularly in the southeast, its native range.

It has an upright, pyramidal form, exfoliating reddish-brown bark, and soft, fernlike foliage that turns shades of brilliant cinnamon-red and orange in fall.

Most famous is its flared trunk that develops distinctive knobby growths or “knees” when grown in standing water. Unlike most species, this tree grows well in wet soil and can even tolerate flooding for short periods.

It can be used as a shade tree, or focal point, and is exceptional as an accent planted near a water feature such as a stream or pond. The Bald Cypress is a hardy and adaptable tree, able to grow in regions as cold as zone 4 and as warm as zone 10.

Other Common Names: Bald Cypress

Growing Zones: 4-10

Average Size at Maturity: 50-65 feet tall, with a 20-30 foot spread

Flowering Season: Spring

Available at: Nature Hills

2. Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin) – Fast-Growing

Mimosa Tree (Albizia julibrissin)
Image by Andreas Rockstein via Flickr

An Asian native that has been planted in the US for almost 300 years, the Mimosa is an elegant vase-shaped tree with fine, feathery bright green compound foliage and fluffy circular pink and white flowers that have a delightfully silky texture and decorate the tree in summer.

The Mimosa is a tough, fast-growing tree that can be used to cast dappled shade in summer, as an accent around pools and patios, and as a colorful backdrop. It is also highly attractive to pollinators. The mimosa has a growth rate of around 2-3 feet per year.

Despite its attractive qualities, the Mimosa also causes multiple issues – first, its falling seedpods, flowers, and leaves create quite a mess in the latter half of the year.

Second, its seedpods spread and have a tendency to become weedy and invasive in the southeastern US. It is up to you to decide if the benefits of the Mimosa outweigh its drawbacks.

Other Common Names: Silk Tree, Pink Silk Tree, Persian Silk Tree, Bastard Tamarind

Growing Zones: 6-10

Average Size at Maturity: 20-35 feet tall, with a 25-30 foot spread

Flowering Season: Summer

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

3. Lacebark Elm (Ulmus parvifolia)

Another Asian native that will add texture and beauty to your landscape is the Lacebark Elm, a tree often confused for the inferior Siberian elm. The Lacebark is a medium to large-sized tree known for the intricate mottled pattern of its bark, and it also has a rounded and attractive canopy.

But the Lacebark isn’t just a pretty face – it’s super tough and durable too! This tree is highly resistant to the destructive Dutch Elm Disease according to the Oregon State Extension, it can tolerate some drought and will grow in a wide range of soil types and pH levels.

This tree is best planted as a shade tree, but it can also be used as a street tree and is a popular choice of bonsai. It can add between 1 and 3 feet to its height per year. Plant it in a sheltered location to prevent any breakage from strong winds.

Other Common Names: Drake Elm, Chinese Elm

Growing Zones: 5-10

Average Size at Maturity: 60-70 feet tall, with a 40-50 foot spread

Flowering Season: Late Spring to Fall

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

4. Millstone Japanese Pagoda Tree (Sophora japonica ‘Halka’)

Image via Nature Hills

A lovely deciduous tree with a rounded form, symmetrical canopy, and elegant, sweeping branches that grow in an upward formation from the trunk, the Millstone Japanese Pagoda makes an excellent ornamental addition to any landscape.

In late spring and early summer, its bright green foliage is interspersed with large clusters of bell-shaped white flowers that will draw bees, birds, and other pollinators to your yard.

You can plant this tree as an effective shade tree, street tree, or lawn tree. It will provide essential flowering color in the shoulder period between spring and summer when few other species are flowering.

Japanese pagoda trees tend to be susceptible to canker, but the Millstone does not experience these issues – it is one of the most canker-resistant cultivars of its kind! It is also highly tolerant of urban pollution, making it a strong choice for city gardens.

Growing Zones: 5-10

Average Size at Maturity: 40-45 feet tall, with a 30-35 foot spread

Flowering Season: Late Spring to Early Summer

Available at: Nature Hills

5. Arizona Ash (Fraxinus velutina) – Fast-growing

Arizona Ash Tree
Image via Nature Hills

A native of Mexico and the southwestern US, the Arizona Ash is a deciduous tree with a slender trunk, upright growth habit, and rounded open canopy.

It has light green glossy foliage which turns an excellent shade of bright yellow in fall. Its most distinctive ornamental trait is its bark, which has a delicate ridged texture that will stand out all year.

With its open canopy and long leaves this Ash tree is an excellent choice for casting a broad spot of cool shade in summer, and with a 3-foot annual growth rate, it will be able to cast its shade in just a few years. It can also be planted as a lawn specimen, street tree, property boundary, and more.

These Ash trees can be planted in full sun and moist, well-draining soil. It has mild tolerance to both drought and wet soil and may require careful pruning to maintain its form and reduce chances of breakage according to the University of Florida Extension.

Other Common Names: Velvet Ash, Modesto Ash, Desert Ash, Smooth Ash, Fresno Ash, Leatherleaf Ash

Growing Zones: 7-11

Average Size at Maturity: 40 feet tall, with a 30-40 foot spread

Flower Season: Spring

Available at: Nature Hills

6. Siouxland Cottonwood (Populus deltoides ‘Siouxland’) – Fast-Growing

Siouxland Cottonwood
Image via Nature Hills

This fast-growing and versatile cottonwood cultivar has a pyramidal form and a slightly irregular vase-like habit.

The Siouxland Cottonwood was first developed by the Dakota State University to be a superior form of the eastern cottonwood, most famous because it does not produce the cottonwood’s famously messy cottony white seeds.

As well as being more convenient to grow, the Siouxland Cottonwood is also hardy, adaptable, and attractive. It possesses light green and silver foliage and those heart-shaped leaves turn a bright yellow in fall.

It is most often planted as a shade tree with its small shimmery leaves, but it also makes a lovely focal point, windbreak, or shelterbelt. It has a wide, shallow root system and should not be planted near sidewalks or walkways.

The Siouxland Cottonwood will tolerate a range of growing conditions, from dry soil to poorly-draining soil, as well as road salts and urban pollution, making it a great choice for city planting.

Other Common Names: Cotton-less Cottonwood

Growing Zones: 3-10

Average Size at Maturity: 60-80 feet tall, with a 25-40 foot spread

Flowering Season: N/A

Available at: Nature Hills

7. Frontier Elm (Ulmus x ‘Frontier’)

frontier elm tree
Image via Nature Hills

Released to the public by the US National Arboretum in 1990, the Frontier Elm is a very modern and convenient elm cultivar known for its compact size and deep red and purple fall color. This tree is rather refined and statuesque with an upright pyramidal form, smooth grey bark, and glossy leaves.

The Frontier Elm makes a useful small shade tree and specimen plant, and can also be used in mixed borders and anchor plantings. Due to its moderate height and width, the Frontier Elm is a tree best used in smaller landscapes where its attributes can be best appreciated.

This hardy tree has a decent tolerance to Dutch elm disease, elm yellows, and elm leaf beetle. It grows well in urban conditions and is resistant to wind, cold, and heat. Plant the Frontier Elm in full sun to partial shade. It can grow in a variety of soil types as long as they are well-draining.

Growing Zones: 5-10

Average Size at Maturity: 30-40 feet tall, with a 20-30 foot spread

Flowering Season: N/A

Available at: Nature Hills

8. Prairie Cascade Willow (Salix ‘Prairie Cascade’) – Fast-Growing

A gorgeous cultivar of the iconic Weeping Willow, the Prairie Cascade is a winning addition to any property.

This Willow tree has a deeply romantic look to it, with a strong straight trunk, graceful weeping habit, and fine green leaves that turn golden yellow fall. Its stems remain yellow through winter too, adding a colorful element to the winter landscape.

This Willow cultivar is extraordinarily hardy and adaptable to different climates, able to grow in regions as cold as zone 3 and as hot as zone 10.

Though it does not grow as fast as an original Weeping Willow tree, it will still obtain heights of 3-6 feet per year. Paired with its weeping branches and long fluttering leaves it is a natural choice for a shade tree.

Make sure to plant the Prairie Cascade in full sunlight, otherwise it is highly adaptable to different soil types and pH levels and will grow well in urban environments.

Growing Zones: 3-10

Average Size at Maturity: 30-35 feet tall, with a similar spread

Fruiting Season: Late Spring

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

Summer Protection and Winter Insulation With These Shade Trees

These shade trees are just 8 of many excellent options for zone 10 properties. Whether you want an elegant and ultra-fast tree like the Prairie Cascade Willow or a sturdy and adaptable native like the bald cypress, there is something that will suit your property.

Trees that provide shade are some of the most important landscaping tools a homeowner can establish. If you are looking for more versatile landscaping trees to grow, you might also be interested in these drought-tolerant trees and evergreen privacy trees for zone 10.

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Shannon Campbell

Off-Grid Gardener & Food Forager

Shannon has always loved looking after trees and plants since as long as she can remember. She grew up gardening with her family in their off-grid home and looking after her neighbor's plant nursery. As a child she also participated in native tree replanting, and as an adult has volunteered in reforestation programs in northern Vietnam. Today, she puts her horticultural efforts into tending her vegetable and herb gardens, and learning about homesteading and permaculture. When she’s not reading, writing, and gardening, she’ll be out fishing and foraging for edible flora and fungi in the countryside around her home.

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