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The Art of Shade: Shade Trees & Structures for Outdoor Comfort

Updated: May 14

Custom Pergola
Custom Pergola

Creating a comfortable and inviting outdoor space is about more than just selecting the right plants and hardscapes. It's also about considering how to manage sun and shade. Particularly in growing zones 7b to 8a, where the Carolinas are situated, having areas of shade can make a big difference in your enjoyment of the outdoors. This blog delves into the art of using shade trees and structures to enhance your landscape design while maximizing comfort.

Why Shade Matters

Shade not only offers relief from the hot sun but also creates a varied and dynamic landscape. It can protect sensitive plants, reduce your cooling costs, and create a pleasant atmosphere for outdoor activities (U.S. Department of Energy,

The Best Shade Trees for Zones 7b to 8a

Willow Oak Tree
Willow Oak Tree

1. Willow Oak:

Provides dense shade and grows relatively fast. It's also tolerant of different soil types (North Carolina State University Extension,

Little Gem Southern Magnolia
Little Gem Southern Magnolia

2. Southern Magnolia:

Known for its evergreen leaves and large, fragrant flowers (Arbor Day Foundation,

Eastern Redbud Tree
Eastern Redbud Tree

3. Eastern Redbud:

Provides light shade and has beautiful spring blossoms (USDA Plant Database,

How to Position Shade Trees

1. Consider Sun Angles:

Place trees where they can block the afternoon sun, which is generally hotter and more intense.

2. Distance from Home:

Plant trees at least 15-20 feet away from your home to prevent root damage to the foundation (International Society of Arboriculture,

3. Understory Planting:

Use the shade provided by these larger trees to plant shade-loving understory plants like azaleas and ferns.

Incorporating Shade Structures

Custom Pergolas
Custom Pergolas

1. Pergolas:

Great for creating shade over patios and are open enough to allow some sunlight through. Make sure to use quality materials that can withstand the elements (Carolina Terrain's hardscaping services,

Sun Awning
Sun Awning

2. Awnings:

Good for more temporary shade needs and are retractable.

Custom Outdoor Pavilion
Custom Outdoor Pavilion

3. Gazebos & Pavilions:

Provide an enclosed shade area, excellent for dining or lounging.


Choosing and positioning shade trees and structures wisely can enhance both the aesthetic and functional aspects of your landscape. For more personalized solutions, Carolina Terrain is always available to offer expertise in landscape design and consultation tailored to your needs in zones 7b to 8a. Schedule a consult with us today!


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