Virginia’s Best Shade Trees For Parking Lots

Smart owners of private and public business properties understand the value of trees. Shade Trees beautify and individualize buildings and parking lot areas. It also adds more oxygen into the environment, improves appearance, and prevents soil erosion during rain storms.

Shade trees are a vital component of a well-planned and well executed parking lot area in Virginia. You can choose from a wide variety of hardy and resilient shade trees.

What Planting Zone is Lynchburg Virginia?

When looking into what plants will best for Virginia, it’s important to consider climate zones. Most of Virginia is Zone 6 – Zone 7 with a little bit of Zones 5 and 8. Lynchburg, in particular, is within Zone 7A. Deciduous trees are usually good ones for this zone, they’re drought tolerant and can handle parking lot conditions easily.

In this article, we will highlight what many arborists consider to be the best shade trees for Virginia.

Best Shade Trees For Parking Lots

  1. Black Oak
  2. Red Maple
  3. London Plane Tree
  4. American Hornbeam
  5. Red Cedar

1. Black Oak

black oak tree for virginia parking lots

When someone first pulls into a parking lot on a hot summer day, the first thing many people look for is a shaded parking space. Oaks are the most traditional and well known shade parking lot tree. Strong and sturdy, oaks thrive and grow in just about any soil.

They are a hardy tree, and require only minimum maintenance. Black Oaks also do well in both city and rural settings, and live a long time. Oaks have a broad and bountiful shade footprint, so it is best to position them in strategically placed islands throughout the paved area. Doing so will help you to develop a picturesque and varied setting.

2. Red Maple

shade trees for virginia - red maple

Maples are among the most beautiful shade trees available. Their leaves put on a gorgeous fall display full of fiery red and orange color. Red Maples are not only gorgeous, they are also very practical. Red Maples grow at an incredible rate of 3 to 5 feet per year.

They take root quickly and are highly resistant to insects and disease, offering hassle free maintenance. Red maples are not susceptible to damage from exhaust and city pollution, creating another big advantage for parking lots and paved areas.

3. London Plane Tree

parking lot trees - london plane tree

The London Plane is an improved version of the American Sycamore. This shade tree offers delightful color shifts and interesting marbled, peeling bark through the seasons. London Planes are less messy than American Sycamores since they don’t drop seed pods.

London Planes thrive in all types of weather and do quite well in city settings. London Plane trees are also resistant to damage from exhaust and urban pollution.

4. American Hornbeam

best trees to plant in virginia -american hornbeam

A lovely shade tree of smaller stature, American Hornbeams are one of the best parking lot trees for sidewalk areas. They will help you avoid cracks in walkways and pavement. They also have a nice, open shape and can do well in the shade of other larger trees. In sunlight, they grow dense, thick foliage that offers plenty of shade.

Also called Ironwoods, their strong wood is often used for making tools, bowls, and dishes. In the autumn months they burst out in wonderful bright shades of red, orange and yellow, making Hornbeams a great compliment to the Red Maple.

5. Red Cedar

best trees to grow in virginia - red cedar

Red cedars are among the most reliable and useful trees available. They can grow and thrive just about anywhere in the country, Their hardy nature allows them handle extreme heat, and cold weather easily. They require little to no maintenance during the year.

Red Cedars are ideal border plantings to block out noise and shield against the wind. Their lush, deep green foliage, and classic upright, narrow pyramid shape allow them to be planted in virtually any area. They make great privacy trees, as well as shade trees.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do parking lots have trees?

The landscaping around streets and parking lots serves a dual purpose beyond its aesthetic appeal; it also contributes to the management and prevention of urban runoff. By capturing and storing rainfall in their canopies, trees release water into the atmosphere, preventing it from accumulating on streets.

What type of challenges can exist when planting trees intermittently in parking lots?

Trees in parking lots and paved areas face significant drought stress due to their restricted root systems, reflected heat, and dry summers. When installing irrigation after trees have been established, it is advisable to avoid cutting their roots to prevent further stress.


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