9 USDA Zone 9 Shade Trees (Add Coolness to Your Home & Yard)

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Written By Shannon Campbell

Off-Grid Gardener & Food Forager

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Home » USDA Zone 9 » 9 USDA Zone 9 Shade Trees (Add Coolness to Your Home & Yard)

One of the best uses for landscaping trees is to provide shade for yourself and your home.

This is especially true in USDA hardiness zone 9, where summer heat can soar to particularly high temperatures. A well-placed shade tree can save you a small fortune in electricity bills.

Keep reading for nine of the best zone 9 shade trees for your properties.

9 Shade Trees That Grow Well In Zone 9

1. American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

If you want to identify the American Sycamore, just keep an eye out for its patchy, multi-colored bark which looks similar to a jigsaw puzzle pattern.

This eye-catching bark, along with its maple-shaped leaves, are its most notable visual features – aside from its size that is! With an average height of between 75 to 100 feet, it is North America’s largest deciduous tree.

With such immense height and wide-spreading branches, the American Sycamore creates very dense shade that will keep your house cool all summer long.

In fact, its shade can be so dense that it may stunt the growth of trees and plants beneath it, so be tactical when choosing a location for this tree. Its root system can also be aggressive, so plant it away from cement.

The American Sycamore is highly adaptable and can grow in a range of soil types and pH levels, as well as being resistant to pollution, strong winds, drought, and wet soil.

Other Common Names: Sycamore, Buttonball Tree, Button Tree, Buttonwood, Eastern Sycamore, American Plane Tree, Planetree

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 75-100 feet tall, with a similar spread

Fruiting Season: Mid-Fall to Early Winter

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

2. Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)

Once considered one of the most valuable shade trees in the US, the Silver Maple is still a go-to for many American homeowners who want to establish cooling shade around their homes as quickly as possible.

With a growth rate of around 3-7 feet per year, it is one of the fastest-growing trees in the US, and combined with its dense foliage and graceful form it is a very desirable choice of shade tree in zone 9. It is also one of the most commonly-planted maple trees in zone 9.

However, interested gardeners should be aware of some of the Silver Maples’ weaknesses before planting. With such a speedy growth rate its wood tends to be weak, brittle, and prone to breakage, and the mess can make it a high-maintenance tree.

As it matures its bark also becomes scaly and flaky, which some growers say can lead to a shaggy and unkempt look to the tree.

Plant the silver maple in full sun and light, well-draining soil.

Other Common Names: Water Maple, Soft Maple, Creek Maple, River Maple, White Maple, Silverleaf Maple

Growing Zones: 3-9

Average Size at Maturity: 50-100 feet tall, with a 35-50 foot spread

Flowering Season: Spring

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

3. Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica)

Weeping Willow
Image by Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier via Flickr

A truly iconic lawn tree is the Weeping Willow, another rapid grower with plenty of value in landscape gardening. These trees are known for their deeply graceful, even romantic form, with weeping branches and delicate, draping foliage.

They are most often grown near water features such as ponds, streams, and lakes, where their form is most beautiful and their dense roots can help to prevent soil erosion.

But what many gardeners forget is the Weeping Willows’ value as a shade tree. With its dense branches and incredibly rapid growth rate of 8-10 feet per year, you’ll have a decently sized shade-giving tree in just two or 3 years!

Since they have long roots and a dense root system, avoid growing this tree near any underground infrastructure. Prioritize planting this tree in a location with partial shade (to protect from zone 9’s hot afternoon sun), and consistently moist, slightly acidic, well-draining soil.

Other Common Names: Silver Willow, Babylon Weeping Willow

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 30-50 feet tall, with a similar spread

Flower Season: Spring

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

4. Arizona Ash (Fraxinus velutina)

Color and elegance abound in this shade tree. The Arizona Ash is a medium-sized deciduous tree with a neat upright growth habit, a rounded canopy, and bright green leaves. It provides cool shade through most of the year and grows best in its natural range in mountainous areas of the southwest.

According to the University of Arizona Campus Arboretum, the large crown of the Arizona Ash makes it most popular for use as a shade tree, though it is also a practical choice for a lawn tree and shelterbelt due to its natural wind resistance.

It is well suited to soils with high alkalinity and is fairly drought tolerant once mature.

While it is an attractive tree there are some downsides. The Arizona ash has a short lifespan, living for 50 years at most in the right growing conditions.

It is also higher maintenance, needing fairly consistent pruning to reduce the growth of weak, brittle branches. It is also vulnerable to emerald ash borer.

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

5. River Birch (Betula nigra L.)

River Birch tree
Image via Nature Hills

A wildly popular shade tree and the most widely planted birch tree in the US, the River Birch is a winning addition to any landscape where it can grow successfully.

It is best known for its stunning bark, which is a smooth tan color on top and peels back to reveal patches of dark brown and pink inner bark. This pleasing effect adds visual appeal throughout the year.

Its glossy, light green leaves provide perfect dappled shade in hot weather. As well as a shade tree it is also used as a specimen plant, windbreak, living fence, and in a beautiful natural grouping.

It is often planted beside water features, such as streams and ponds, as it grows naturally in wet, waterlogged soil.

The River Birch is low maintenance and can grow in dense, poor-draining soil, and a range of pH levels. The most important thing is to ensure that soil is consistently moist and even damp, with exposure to full sun or partial shade.

Other Common Names: Water Birch, Black Birch, Red Birch

Growing Zones: 3-9

Average Size at Maturity: 25-50 feet tall, with a 25-35 foot spread

Flowering Season: Winter

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

6. Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)

A common sight in the Eastern US, the Flowering Dogwood is a distinctive and useful landscaping tree known for its year-round interest. With a sophisticated horizontal branching habit, textured bark, bright red berries, showy flowering displays, and lovely fall foliage it has plenty to offer in the looks department.

While it is often used in foundation plantings, woodland margins, screens, windbreaks, and more, many don’t realize its potential as a shade tree. With their beautifully balanced branching habit and dense spring flower displays and light foliage, they cast an ideal amount of shade in spring and summer.

Flowering Dogwoods can grow flowers in a variety of colors, but they are most often white or pink. Some cultivars will produce crimson-red blooms, while others will have foliage that turns unique fall colors like purple, red, orange, etc.

Flowering Dogwoods are excellent trees for full sun exposure in zone 9 and should be planted in rich, acidic, well-draining soil.

Other Common Names: Eastern Flowering Dogwood, American Box, False Box Wood, Common White Dogwood, North American Green Osier

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 15-25 feet tall, with a 15-30 foot spread

Flowering Season: Early Spring

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

7. American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana)

American Hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana)
Image by Katja Schulz via Flickr

Also commonly known as Ironwood, the American Hornbeam is a deciduous tree native to eastern North America.

It grows naturally in dry, rocky soils and is a highly adaptable tree that will grow in most soil types, including compacted soils and varying moisture levels, though it will not tolerate long periods of flooding.

The American Hornbeam has stunning fluted blue-gray bark that adds appeal throughout the year, as well as slender, somewhat pendulous branches.

In landscaping the hornbeam is a truly excellent choice of shade tree or specimen that will grow in regions as warm as zone 9. It is also a valuable wildlife tree as it supports songbirds, small mammals, and browsing animals according to the University of Minnesota Extension.

This tree will grow fairly easily with few growing requirements. It should be planted in full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil. Soil with a high salt content should be avoided.

Other Common Names: Hornbeam, Musclewood, Ironwood, Blue Beech, Water Beech

Growing Zones: 3-9

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

Flowering Season: Mid-Spring

Available at: Nature Hills

8. Black Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica)

Black Tupelo
Image by Leonora (Ellie) Enking via Flickr

One of the most appealing native trees in the US, the Black Tupelo is worth considering for any zone 9 gardener, whether as a shade tree or simply as a majestic specimen.

It has some of the best fall colors of any native tree, turning a brilliant flush of bright red and orange, and it also offers outstanding value as a wildlife tree with its flowers and small blue fruits.

And of course, let’s not forget its use as an ornamental shade tree. Its conical shape and long glossy leaves provide great coverage in summer. It also works well as a specimen and a street tree. With its deeply furrowed gray bark, often compared to an alligator’s hide, it offers four seasons of interest.

The Black Tupelo is adaptable to a wide range of soil types and moisture conditions. It will grow best in moist, acidic soil with full sun to partial shade.

Other Common Names: Sourgum, Tupelo, Black Tupelo, Nyssa Pepperidge, Bee Gum, Black Gum

Growing Zones: 3-9

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

Fruiting/Flowering Season: Mid to Late Spring

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

9. White Oak (Quercus alba)

White Oak tree or Quercus Alba
Image by James St John via Flickr

Possibly the most majestic of all oak trees in North America, the White Oak is an immense, stately tree that has an extraordinary impact on both the visual aspects of your landscape and on the ecosystems within it.

This enormous native provides important food and shelter to local wildlife – its fall acorns are one of the best sources of sustenance for birds, deer, rodents, and more.

Able to grow close to 100 feet tall and with very thick, spreading branches, the White Oak also provides a maximum amount of shade throughout the year. It is guaranteed to cool and insulate your home… just make sure you have enough space for it on your property!

Otherwise, the white oak is best used as a focal point in a large landscape, or as a legacy tree, since these specimens can live for over 500 years.

Other Common Names: American White Oak, Stave Oak, Eastern White Oak, Northern White Oak, Quebec Oak, Forked-Leaf White Oak

Growing Zones: 3-9

Average Size at Maturity: 60-90 feet tall, with a 50-90 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Mid Fall

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

Establish Cool Shade For Hot Summers

Whether you’re looking for an enormous shade tree that can shield your home, like the White Oak, or a smaller shade tree that fits a compact space like the Flowering Dogwood, these are options for you to consider.

Shade-giving trees will make an enormous difference in the summer, both to your comfort and to your wallet. They will even help to keep your home insulated in those rare winter cold spells.

For more useful landscaping species, check out these evergreen privacy trees for zone 9.

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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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