Matthew R. Chappell, UGA Extension Horticulturist
Kim D. Coder, UGA Professor of Tree Biology & Health Care and
Gary Peiffer, DeKalb County, GA ANR Extension Agent
Shade trees are a staple of Southern landscapes and include a variety of species, forms and seasonal appeal. In the Southeastern U.S., shade trees are used most often to provide relief from the summer sun and heat. Additionally, shade trees can be utilized to channel summer breezes to desired locations, add monetary value to a property, define outdoor spaces, and improve landscape sustainability by reducing soil erosion, decreasing storm water flows, increasing rainwater infiltration and increasing wildlife habitat.
In urban and suburban landscapes, tree selection is typically based on two criteria: (1) fast growth to provide quick shade on sparse new home sites and (2) small to medium mature size to accommodate small lot sizes. Many trees are advertised as “fast growing,” yet mature size is not often advertised by the seller or inquired into by the buyer. Thus, fast growing, large trees can quickly overpower a small landscape in an urban setting. The following information will assist homeowners in making informed decisions when selecting fast growing shade trees for urban and suburban environments.
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