Shade trees beautify yards and public areas, but it's important to choose a shade tree that suits the area. Not every location, for example, can support a tree that's 80 feet tall, or even a tree that has a more modest height of 30 feet. Choosing shade trees that range from 15 to 20 feet tall is a good choice for the small yard or property.
While there are some varieties that grow to be upwards of 30 feet tall, there are many varieties that hover in 15- to 20-foot range. They are graceful trees with a wide variety of foliage color. They do best in areas of light to partial shade. Some cultivars that fall in the right range are the Katsura, the Okagami and the Okushimo.
The Chinese dogwood grows to a height of 16 to 20 feet. It's a sturdy tree that's typically free of pests and diseases, but it is a slow grower. During the fall, this tree produces clusters of red fruit that last until the first frost. In the summer the leaves are a pale green, and during the fall they turn bright red. As the tree ages, the bark takes on a flaky look. Chinese dogwoods grow well in partial shade.
Golden Rain Tree
The golden rain tree tops out at 20 feet, and it has an excellent resistance to insects and disease. It's rather slender, though, making it prone to storm damage. During late June, it produces large clusters of golden flowers that give the tree its name. By fall, the flowers are replaced by conical fruit. The tree has a rounded outline and spreading branches.
The amur maple is a hardy tree that grows to a full height of 15 to 18 feet. During the fall, its green leaves slowly turn a brilliant red. It produces winged red seeds that cling to the tree after the leaves have fallen, which gives it a full, colorful look during the early part of winter. It's an easy-to-grow tree and does well in a wide range of soil types.