Shade trees beautify properties, help keep environments cool, and clean the air while providing oxygen. Their limbs and branches also provide shelter and nesting spaces for a variety of wild bird species and help save on cooling costs. Each tree species has its own growth and space requirements of which individuals should be aware before planting. The following are some of the best shade trees for South Florida yards, in no particular order.

Bald Cypress

This is a good tree for low spots as it likes a lot of water, though it will tolerate a mild drought. It’s a unique conifer with needles that turn a rusty red color and fall in the autumn. It grows about 50 ft. high, with a canopy diameter of about half that size. It has far reaching roots and should be planted at least 15 feet away from buildings and walkways.

Florida Maple

The Florida Maple grows to 40 ft. in height and leaves turn a bright reddish-bronze in the fall. They’re fairly fast growing and good for medium sized yards. The tree will tolerate some flooding and will grow in full sun or partial shade. As it matures, the roots tend to breach the ground surface. Mulching around the tree will minimize mowing problems.

Live Oak

This is a tree that can live for centuries. It’s very resilient and can act as a windbreak against winds. It’s deeply rooted and can tolerate some flooding. The trees can grow 65 ft. high have large canopies and far reaching branches making them a good choice for large landscapes. The disadvantage to the tree is that the blooms can be messy in the spring. It does produce acorns that squirrels like and will require trimming when young.


Known primarily for the value of its wood, the leaf texture can add interest to the landscape. It’s an evergreen, but will drop its leaves for a short time each year. It’s on Florida’s endangered species list and planting one will aid in maintaining the species. They’re drought and salt tolerant, but do have aggressive roots. The tree shouldn’t be planted closer than a minimum of 20 feet from structures and no closer than 6 ft. from walkways and curbs. Mahogany can live up to 350 years, grow up to 60 ft. tall, and have a 50-ft. canopy spread.

RCH Landscaping is a full service landscape company based in Boca Raton, Florida. We design, install, and maintain Commercial and Residential landscapes all around Boca Raton, Delray Beach and The Palm Beach areas. Our team of highly skilled landscape technicians have an undisputed track record of creating and maintaining beautiful commercial and residential landscapes all over South Florida.

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