Shade Trees With Shallow Roots


If you choose to line your driveway with shade trees, you add an unmistakable beauty to your overall home landscape. But you have to make sure that those shade trees, and their shallow roots, are situated far enough back from the paved drive not to cause you problems later, if their roots decide to surface.


  • Beech and birch trees are shade trees with shallow roots. So are cottonwood, hackberry and Norway maple trees. Other trees that provide shade to homeowners and also have shallow roots include silver maple, sugar maple and spruce trees.


  • The functions of a shade tree are numerous. They are meant first and foremost to provide shade during the hot summer months to home owners, park visitors and anyone trekking through an extended stretch of land during the heat of the midday sun. They are also used to help reduce the expense of cooling homes and businesses during summer months. But they also serve to increase the property value of your home or business, since shade trees can make your landscape look more beautiful. And lastly, they provide a resting and nesting place for birds, as well as some animals.

Time Frame

  • Many shade trees with shallow roots don't live as long as other trees. The silver maple tree, for example, lives between 25 to 40 years. And the paper birch tree lives less than that: only 25 years, according to the University of Tennessee. An exception to this, though, is the cottonwood tree, which can live to be 100.


  • One of the most concerning issues for those choosing to plant a shade tree with shallow roots, however, is the effect it can have on sidewalks, driveways and roads nearby. If they are planted too close to either man-made walking or drive areas, they may eventually cause cracks in each or raise them up, inevitably requiring their removal if they do. Upraised roots can also interfere with mowing, but some shade trees also hinder grass growth, which can be a concern.


  • If you have moved into a newly built home that doesn't boast much of a landscape thus far, the fast-growing shade trees can help you remedy that problem. And some shade trees even offer colorful blooms to go with the shady covering they offer.


  • The University of Tennessee recommends that you research which shade tree might be best for your particular geographical area, as well as neighborhood. This is because some shade trees need to have soils that are very moist (paper birch), not be planted near utility lines or pavement (hackberry) or are not heat tolerant in certain places (like the Norway maple and West Tennessee).

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  • Photo Credit Red Maple tree image by Mr. D from
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