5 Best Shady Trees to Plant in Texas Hill Country

5 Best Shady Trees to Plant in Texas Hill Country

picture of woman reading book under a tree

August 27, 2021

While plenty of relief from the Texas heat can be found indoors, there’s nothing quite like gathering under the shade of a beautiful tree. Ben & Annie’s Trees for Tomorrow is dedicated to planting trees in Central Texas to offset the displacement done by new-home construction, and we know the value a strong, shady tree can add to your life (and land). Learn about the five best trees to plant for shade in Texas Hill Country and surrounding areas.   

Texas Ash 

The Texas ash is a small tree, usually between 30 and 45 feet when fully grown. This subspecies of tree is confined to the Lone Star State, except for a select extension into the Arbuckle Mountains of Oklahoma. It grows exceptionally well in Texas Hill Country with dry, rocky soils that are often limestone, sand or clay based. With a densely branched canopy, long lifespan, brilliant fall colors and low water requirements, the Texas ash is an easy-growing tree that will provide plenty of shade on your property for decades to come. 

Green Ash 

Another type of ash that provides a good amount of shade is the green ash. They thrive in all types of growing conditions, so soil types and moisture can vary. Reaching 50 to 75 feet when mature, the round-topped silhouette and long leaves of the green ash create the sought-after shady areas below. These trees are tolerant of many climates and can grow natively in just about every state in the country. Green ash also attracts beautiful butterflies like the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and the Mourning Cloak.  

Bur Oak 

Once matured, a bur oak can reach heights of 100 feet and is typically wider than tall. This tree makes a bold statement to its surroundings with coarse-textured bark, huge acorns and oversized leaves—which of course lend a hand to offering prime amounts of shade. Bur oaks are native in multiple parts of the continent, from South and Central Texas all the way up to Canada. Much like the green ash, they can grow in all moisture levels and different types of soils. They’re also one of the fastest-growing shade trees in the state. 

American Elm 

American elms are one of the most popular shade trees across the country, but they are native to and can grow particularly well in Texas Hill Country. Soil should be moist for optimum growing conditions, but they thrive in sand, clay and limestone-based soils with good drainage. American elms can tolerate heat very well, but are susceptible to Dutch elm disease—so make sure you check any on your land often for leaf loss in the summer, dying roots or visible bark beetle tunnels. When healthy, they can grow up to 100 feet tall and have a wide, sturdy trunk. 

Bigtooth Maple

For a shorter shade tree, consider planting a bigtooth maple. Somewhat shrublike, this species typically only grows to heights of 10 or 15 feet. Their dense leaves produce ideal shade, while fall produces beautiful colors from their foliage. Both heat and cold tolerant, bigtooth maples grow best in moist limestone, sand or clay-based soils. 

Learn more about the efforts of Ben & Annie’s Trees for Tomorrow or make a donation to help plant more native trees in Central Texas. For builders, discover how becoming a partner can benefit both your business, your homeowners and the future of the areas you work in.