7 Best Patio Trees for Shade

Updated: Apr. 23, 2024

Here’s a list of ornamental trees in a variety of sizes to create shade for any patio.

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Patio Trees DigiStu/Getty Images

Whether your patio is next to your house or a little farther away, planting a tree can be an easy way to provide shade. Close patios may need a smaller tree, like a Japanese maple, or even a man-made solution like a pergola or shade sail. Patios set away from the house can handle something larger, like a tulip tree.

Here are some ornamental patio trees for shade that also add color to your patio landscaping.

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Crape Myrtle
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Crape myrtle trees are all over the Southern United States. These pretty, flowering trees are a landscaping stalwart. Large clusters of delicate, long-lasting blossoms fill yards with bursts of pink, red or purple all summer.

For purple flowers, the Purple Magic Crape Myrtle Tree is a good option. It reaches a mature height of ten feet, making it the perfect size patio tree for shade.

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Japanese Maple
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Japanese maple trees offer the same dazzling fall foliage and five-point leaves as other maple trees, but their size, shape and summer color set them apart from the rest.

Some of these fantastic patio trees, such as the Bloodgood Red Japanese Maple Tree, display deep red leaves from spring to fall, while others only turn red as winter approaches. They’re also popular for their slender leaves and smaller size. The Bloodgood reaches a mature height of 15 to 20 feet.

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Crabapple
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Ornamental Crabapple

Crabapple trees are popular landscaping plants due to their hardiness. They can even grow in areas with temperatures below zero. Of course, the beautiful crabapple flowers are another perk of planting this tree near your patio.

Ornamental crabapple trees come in various colors, including white, pink and deep red, like this Prarifire Crabapple. It reaches a mature height of 20 to 25 feet.

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Southern Magnolia
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Southern Magnolia

Southern magnolia’s enormous, fragrant flowers are dazzling on or off the tree. And the tree’s leaves are a glossy green.

The Little Gem Magnolia takes two or three years to flower. But once it does, the blooms last from May through October. It’s a slow-growing patio tree with a mature height of 20 to 25 feet, and it’s hardy to USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 7.

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Tulip Tree Flowers Gettyimages 1225930539
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Here’s a less common but equally gorgeous patio tree: the tulip tree. The state tree of Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee, these beauties are especially popular in the eastern United States. Mature trees feature tulip-like orange and green blossoms. These fast-growing patio trees can benefit from pruning.

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Redbud Trees
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Redbud trees have a distinctive spring look. Tiny flowers cover their branches before any leaves sprout, giving the appearance of an all-pink tree. Redbud trees fill out with green leaves once their flowers are spent.

This Eastern Redbud Tree grows up to 30 feet tall and provides spring color and summer shade to patios in Zones 4 through 9.

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Japanese Magnolia
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Japanese Magnolia

Japanese magnolia trees can handle lower temperatures than southern magnolias, which makes them a better patio tree for shade in Northern regions.

Unlike the southern magnolia, these hardy trees bloom only in the spring, and their flowers are much smaller. The Japanese Magnolia Alexandrina has eye-catching pink blooms that start dark at the base and lighten toward the edge.

What to Consider When Buying Patio Trees for Shade

The most important things to remember when selecting a patio tree for shade are the size and type of tree. Since you’ll be planting the tree next to your patio, there will be limited space. Consider the mature size of the tree to ensure it will work in your outdoor space. You want to make sure that it has room to grow while having a broad canopy spread to provide shade.

The type of tree you get for your patio will depend on the climate you live in as well as the location of your patio. Research which trees will thrive in your area and also consider how much sun the patio currently gets (most likely a good amount since you’re looking to add shade).

Considering these two things will ensure that your tree can continue to grow and thrive for many years and add some beauty to your landscaping.

Why You Should Trust Us

As an assistant editor for Family Handyman, I regularly write about indoor and outdoor gardening, organization and décor. Tending to my balcony garden is one of my favorite things outside of work.

How We Found the Best Patio Trees for Shade

We relied on our ample gardening archives to find the best patio trees, pulling from years of research and experience on all things flora. Additionally, we consulted with our gardening sources we regularly contact for their insider opinions on which species make the best shade trees. 

FAQ

How close can I plant a tree to my patio?

Larger trees should be planted at least 10 to 20 feet away from your patio. Smaller trees can be planted closer, but remember that the canopy or foliage could encroach on your patio space. Roots can cause damage to a patio so you want to make sure to give any newly planted trees enough room to grow.

Can I grow a tree in a pot on my patio instead of planting it?

You can grow a tree in a pot instead of planting one. Dwarf or compact varieties of trees tend to do better in pots because they are smaller when fully mature. Read the care instructions and take note of the fully grown size before you plant in a pot.