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6 USDA Zone 6 Shade Trees to Plant Today


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There’s nothing more physically relaxing than walking under a thicket of shade trees on a blazing hot afternoon.

Shade trees are a blessing as they lower ambient temperatures, thereby keeping you and your home cool year-round. They also add value to your property and landscape.

If you already know your USDA planting zone, it’s important to measure the space you have to understand what kind of shade trees and how many you can plant in your backyard.

Living in Zone 6 means you’re comfortable year-round! The winters aren’t too cold, and the summers aren’t too hot. Minimum average temperatures in Zone 6 range between 0°F and -10°F, giving you various tree options you can plant today.

Here are some of the best Zone 6 shade trees for your gardens and landscapes.

6 USDA Zone 6 Shade Trees to Grow in Your Yard

1. Autumn Blaze® Red Maple Tree (Acer x freemanii ‘Jeffersred’)

This stunning tree is a staple in most GA, PA, and MD gardens, all thanks to its electrifying fall color! The Autumn Blaze is one of the most popular trees in history because it’s less messy during fall, is disease-resistant, grows fast, and tolerates a wide range of soil structures. So if you’re looking for Zone 6 privacy trees, you’ll love the Freeman Maple.

The Autumn Blaze is a cross between the Red Maple and the Silver Maple, so it grows fast and boasts fiery red foliage in the fall. Although this tree can tolerate some neglect, it requires full sun (at least six to eight hours daily) and moist, well-draining, and nitrogen-rich soils to thrive.

It’s not very drought-tolerant, so your tree may require a little extra water to beat the heat when it’s too hot outside.

While the tree’s foliage starts out green, in the fall, the tree boasts a mix of bright orange and deep red or burgundy shades that can be seen from blocks away! Pair your Autumn Blaze with daffodils, tulips, crocus, or vinca minor for a contrasting pop of color.

Although this tree is tolerant, wet soils can cause root rot, so always test your soil before watering it.

Other Common Names: Freeman maple, Freeman’s maple

Growing Zones: 3-8

Average Size at Maturity: 45-70 ft tall, 35-50 ft wide

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

2. Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica)

Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica)
Image by brianfagan via Flickr

Decorating landscapes and yards around MD, CA, and NC, the Weeping Willow is a sight to behold year-round. A tree that looks straight out of a fairy tale garden, the Weeping Willow boasts sweeping, low branches and a falling canopy of lush, sage-green foliage.

Its dramatic appearance has been featured in many movies, and many people associate this fast-growing Zone 6 tree with wisdom, beauty, hope, grace, and strength.

The Weeping Willow requires full sun (at least four to six hours daily), partial shade, and moist, well-draining soils to thrive. In ideal conditions, the tree grows between six and eight feet a year, making it one of the fastest-growing shade trees for Zone 6 dwellers! It attracts beneficial pollinators and plays an incredible role in sustaining wildlife.

This tree’s deep roots help prevent soil erosion, but this means that it requires a large amount of space to grow. Due to its invasive root system, don’t plant this tree near water and sewage pipes, pools, drainage fields, septic tanks, or anywhere else that can damage your property.

The Weeping Willow can fall prey to insects, powdery mildew, blights, and cankers. Keep a close on pests to prevent damage to your tree and other plants.

Other Common Names: Babylon Weeping Willow, Silver Willow, Babylon Willow

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 35-50 ft tall, 35-50 ft wide

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

3. Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera)

Tulip Poplar
Image by Katja Schulz via Flickr

If you’re looking for evergreen trees tall trees, you can’t go wrong with the Tulip Poplar. Standing very tall in NC, southern-east parts of MI, TX, and WA, the Tulip Poplar is a sight to behold in the fall.

In the summer, the tree boasts deep green foliage, and in spring, pretty gold/yellow fragrant flowers decorate the branches. In the fall, the leaves change color, greeting you with a contrasting mix of bright orange and deep green leaves.

The Yellow Poplar needs full sun (at least six or more hours daily), partial shade, and loamy soil to thrive. While it tolerates some neglect, ensure the soil isn’t too wet frequently, as that could cause root rot.

Because of this tree’s height, you’ll need 40-60 feet of available space in your yard for safe growth. This tree, can attract butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, songbirds, and small mammals to your landscape.

Even though the Tulip Poplar is deer resistant and grows fast, it can fall prey to aphid infestations, wilt, mold, mildew, and canker. You’ll also need to be wary of rabbits because they like to gnaw on the inner bark of young trees. As long as the soil remains moist, your tree will be happy swaying in your garden!

Other Common Names: Tulip Poplar, Tulip Tree, Yellow Poplar, Yellow-Poplar

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 70-135 ft tall, 30-60 ft wide

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

4. Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)

Ginkgo Biloba
Image by Oisa via Flickr

If you’re looking for a tree that shines in the fall, the Ginkgo won’t let you down. Glowing in most parts of MD, GA, PA, and TX, the Ginkgo turns heads in the fall.

While some trees boast sunset shades, the Ginkgo prefers blazing sun shades to make a statement. You’re going to look twice and maybe more when you walk under a fiery yellow Ginkgo tree in the autumn!

We recommend that you plant the male varieties of the Ginkgo because, unlike the female types, males don’t bear fruit that causes a sticky mess when it falls on the ground. The seeds inside the fruit are toxic to humans and animals if consumed in large quantities. People prefer planting the male variety to avoid accidental consumption.

The male variety also doesn’t emit any unpleasant smell that other Ginkgo varieties possess. The tree requires full sun (at least six hours or more daily) and clay-like loamy soils to thrive.

To plant this in your garden or landscape, you’ll need between 30 and 60 feet of available space for healthy growth. Native to China, the tree starts out green, but in the fall, the leathery foliage boasts a bright yellowish-gold color that’s visible from miles away!

Other Common Names: Ginkgo, Maidenhair Tree

Growing Zones: 3-9

Average Size at Maturity: 40-80 ft tall, 30-40 ft wide

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

5. Northern Red Oak Tree (Quercus rubra)

Northern Red Oak Tree
Image by James St. John via Flickr

The Northern Red Oak is your tree if you’re looking for majesty, grandeur, style, and grace. Shading landscapes around MD, KS, and PA, the American Red Oak is New Jersey’s state tree for all the right reasons.

Its lumber is often used in cabinetry and hardwood flooring, making it one of the most preferred trees for wood products in the USA. This fire and drought-tolerant tree require full sun (at least six or more hours daily), partial shade, and loamy soil to thrive.

The tree starts off with showy green foliage, but as fall rolls by, the leaves turn a mix of fiery red and burgundy, while some turn bright orange and copper, each complementing and contrasting the other. If you have other plants in your garden, this tree will help attract beneficial pollinators to pollinate your other plants.

Expect to see hummingbirds, songbirds, moths, and even small mammals in your garden. That said, the seeds and leaves of this tree are toxic and shouldn’t be consumed by humans.

You’ll need 60+ feet of available space to plant this beauty in your backyard today. Although the Red Oak is fairly disease-resistant, it attracts gypsy moths that can defoliate your tree.

Other Common Names: American Red Oak, Eastern Red Oak, Mountain Red Oak, Northern Red Oak, Oaks, Red Oak

Growing Zones: 3-8

Average Size at Maturity: 50-75 ft tall, 50-60 ft wide

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

6. Lacebark Chinese Elm Tree (Ulmus parvifolia)

Lacebark Chinese Elm Tree
Image by Matt Lavin via Flickr

The Lacebark Elm can be seen decorating landscapes around MD, GA, PA, and parts of WA. The tree is somewhat resistant to drought and tolerates most soil types. The Lacebark Chinese Elm requires full sun (at least six or more hours daily), partial shade, and clay-loamy soils to thrive. The tree is resistant to Dutch elm disease and helps fight pollution, but it has low wind resistance.

The Lacebark Elm is self-fertile, so if you don’t want an elm explosion in your backyard, pick the fallen seeds before they get too comfortable!

In the summer, the tree boasts smooth and glossy pale green leaves, but when fall comes by, the color changes to a mix of golden yellow, purplish lavender, red, and burgundy! Because the tree is self-fertile, don’t plant it too close to walls, pools, and other immovable structures.

Too much weight from snow and ice or stress from heavy winds can break the tree’s branches, so you’ll want to plant it in a place with low foot traffic. Although this tree is fairly disease-resistant, it can fall prey to wilts, rots, cankers, and leaf spots. You’ll need at least 25 – 60 feet of available space to grow this in your backyard today.

Other Common Names: Chinese Elm, Drake Elm, Lacebark Elm

Growing Zones: 4-10

Average Size at Maturity: 45-65 ft tall, 40-50 ft wide

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

Good Things Come In Trees

There are so many more shade trees you can grow in USDA Zone 6; these are just some of the best-selling ones for you to consider. If you’d rather grow fruit trees, you can try growing apple trees, cold-hardy fig trees, or edible cherry trees.

If you’ve already picked your favorite shade tree, it’s time to whip out that measuring tape and the soil tester. They will help you understand how much space you have and what kind of soil you’re dealing with. Remember, while most trees can tolerate different soil types, growing them in their preferred soil type will yield better results.

Finally, don’t forget to plant your tree away from immovable structures to prevent unwanted damage to your property and landscape.

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