10 Best Shade Trees To Grow In California

California is gifted with exceptional weather, which makes growing shade trees an easy task and the best California shade trees will transform your garden. More than adding aesthetic to any space, it will also make your yard and home cooler and a true oasis during the hot summer days. In the long run, you can save both energy and money! Plus, it adds wildlife habitat. 

Whether you have a compact or large garden, there are several options for the best shade trees in California. Read on and we’ll talk about some of the best trees you can grow! 

Top Picks for California Shade Trees

1. Magnolia

With its dramatic flowers and striking foliage, magnolias make excellent choices for shade trees in California. They can grow from 20 to 80 feet, depending on their variety. It requires minimal care and maintenance while also being resistant to a wide array of pests and diseases. These trees have widespread and shallow roots and can be destructive to roads and houses. If you have a large magnolia tree that is seen as an apparent danger, make sure to consider tree removal California

2. Oak

One of the best trees for Santa Clarita and other parts of California, oaks can survive hot and dry summers or cold and wet winters. There are more than 20 species that are native to California, including coast live oak, Oregon oak, and Valley oak. Regardless of the variety, they have wide-spreading canopies and thick foliage. They can grow very large, so choose a spacious location. 

Related Posts: Oak Tree Care & Oak Tree Diseases California

3. Camphor 

A common tree in the streets of California, camphor is a member of the laurel family. It has aromatic leaves and bark, which can be used as an antiseptic and natural insect repellent, among other applications. The tree has a slow to moderate growth, which can reach a height of 60 feet and a width of 50 feet. While this dense canopy tree can provide excellent shade, it looks unsightly and messy as it overgrows. Consult with providers of tree services California for the best solutions, including trimming. 

4. Jacaranda

Widely recognized as purple trees in San Diego, the jacaranda is an excellent California shade tree. It is most popular for its colorful blooms that add life to any landscape. The purple or lavender flowers complement the tree’s fern-like leaves. While it is beautiful, it can be a headache to grow. The flowers are messy and sticky once they fall to the ground, so cleanup can be a burden. 

5. Crape Myrtle 

If you are looking for a beautiful shade tree that can take the heat in California, it is hard to go wrong with crape myrtle. Known as a living bouquet, it shows off glorious blooms from summer to fall. The flowers can range from red to white, making the crape myrtle an excellent ornamental tree. Growing this tree requires full sun, which will encourage bigger flowers. More so, it requires frequent watering when it is young, and after one or two years, it can tolerate low water. 

6. Mulberry 

More than just being one of the best shade trees in California, the mulberry is also an exceptional fast-growing fruit tree. The sweet-tart fruit harvested from the tree can be eaten fresh or used in sauces, jams, and preserves. Its fruits look like blackberries. As for the growing requirements, you can start from seeds, grafting, or cuttings. It grows in well-draining soil and resists drought. 

Related Posts: Mulberry Tree CaliforniaBest Fruit Trees For Southern California

7. Red Flowering Gum 

When the tree is in full bloom, the red flowering gum is sure to attract attention. It has bright flower clusters that add to the shade that the tree can provide in your yard. The height can reach 45 feet and the canopy can grow as much as 60 feet. This tree can grow up to 24 inches per year, so pruning is a must to maintain its rounded and compact canopy. Some of the most important requirements are full sun and moist, well-draining soil. 

8. Podocarpus 

An evergreen shrub or tree, Podocarpus grows from 3 to 80 feet. It has thin leaves that form dense clusters, resulting in an impenetrable shade. These are tough plants, so they can survive even in adverse conditions and without requiring too much attention. It needs moist but well-draining soil. 

9. California Sycamore 

Both shade and ornamental tree, the California sycamore is large and grows fast, so make sure that you have enough space in your property. Once it matures, the height can reach up to 100 feet and the canopy can spread at up to 70 feet. It can grow at an additional height of 24 inches per year. It has large, leather-like leaves and dense but small green flowers. The tree also comes with an aggressive root system, so it can be destructive when planted near pavements or foundations. 

Related Post: Drought Tolerant Trees California

10. Australian Willow 

While it is a native of Australia, the Australian willow is one of the best shade trees in California. This medium evergreen can reach a height of 35 feet and the canopy can spread at a width of 30 feet. It is also recognized as one of the best drought-tolerant trees in San Diego, making it survive even with minimal watering. 



Q: What is the fastest-growing shade tree in California? 

A: Crape myrtle is one of the fastest-growing shade trees in California. On average, it can grow from one to two feet per year. California sycamore, Australian willow, red maple, oak, and California wax myrtle are also known for being fast-growing. 

Related Post: California Fast Growing Trees

Q: What is a good shade tree that is not messy? 

A: Spruce and maple are some of the best shade trees that are not messy. Even during fall, they do not have massive droppings of leaves, fruits, and seeds. They are perfect if you hate cleaning your yard! 

Q: What is a good shade tree for Southern California? 

A: Camphor, mulberry, magnolia, and podocarpus are some of the best shade trees for Southern California. From Los Angeles to San Diego, these are some of the best shade trees that you can grow in your garden. 

Local Tree Experts Overview

From improved air quality to a wildlife shelter, California shade trees offer plenty of benefits, making them a must-have in any property. Consider the species mentioned above if you are looking for your landscape’s best defining feature! 

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