View Full Version : Shade Trees

Aug. 10, 2011, 11:12 AM
My new farm has no trees in the pastures and I have been thinking about planting some to give the horses some more shade options in the future. Does anyone have any suggestions on horse friendly shade trees that are fairly fast growing?

Aug. 10, 2011, 11:40 AM
Where are you located? That will help people recommend trees that will grow where you are.

Aug. 10, 2011, 12:37 PM
I live in central VA just north east of Richmond.

Aug. 10, 2011, 02:10 PM
In that area you can't go wrong with River Birch.

Aug. 12, 2011, 01:10 PM
I planted a Tulip Tree for just that purpose a couple years ago. It was a bit slow to start but this last year has really taken off. I like the River Birches too...have some in my yard but mine don't offer much shade...more like filtered light. Here's a link to read about the Tulip Tree if you are interested:


Holly Jeanne
Aug. 12, 2011, 01:40 PM
Not meaning to hijak but I'd love that same information for Kentucky. :)

Aug. 12, 2011, 01:53 PM
Thornless honeylocust (http://texastreeplanting.tamu.edu/Display_Onetree.aspx?tid=87) grows like a weed, and it's pretty. Tulip Poplar is said to grow fast, though mine hasn't- but it probably doesn't help that I planted it on what used to be a gravel driveway. River birch are nice, and fast-growing, but IME don't provide much shade. Some maples, like Silver Maple (http://www.aboutmapletrees.com/silver_maple_tree.shtml), grow really fast. The silver maple can be "trashy", but in a pasture is shouldn't matter. I particularly like Pin Oaks (http://www.meridian.k12.il.us/middle%20school/student_work/whitley/Pin%20Oak.html)- my one scraggly $4 twig from the discount aisle at Wal-mart has grown to about 15' in 6 years or so. My Shumard Oak (http://texastreeplanting.tamu.edu/Display_Onetree.aspx?tid=87) is also growing quite rapidly, in spite of me backing over it a few years ago (DH taped it back together and staked it). Green Ash (http://texastreeplanting.tamu.edu/Display_Onetree.aspx?tid=31) also grows fast.

Aug. 12, 2011, 01:55 PM
Not meaning to hijak but I'd love that same information for Kentucky. :)

They have similar climates- almost anything that grows in VA will also do well in KY.

Aug. 12, 2011, 04:23 PM
Willow trees are nice. One of the farms I stayed at in belgium had tons of willow trees in the pastures (and I think they grow quickly). Now they had trees that were like a million years old (ok.. slight exageration.. but these were fricken HUGE.. when the arabians stood under them, it looked like mini horses til you got closer). My (White/Paper) Birch I planted clump style (3 in the hole) and that is over 12' in 4 years. Was about 4.5-5' when i planted it. I do like river birch too.. those are gorgeous.

Aug. 12, 2011, 06:08 PM
The river birch are beautiful and can get pretty large, but in a prolonged dry, hot spell they will drop up to 2/3 of their leaves, and you will have only dappled shade.

Locust grow fast but may die young (10-15 years), in our experience. Depending on how many years of service you are looking for, it might be fine.

Pin Oaks are very reliable and will get huge, and have branches that droop nearly to the ground so might require some pruning to leave room underneath for the horses. Also, there is some thought that the acorns and new foliage may be toxic to horses and they are better planted outside the perimeter fence along a west border to cast afternoon shade.

Sugar maple can get huge quickly and are wonderful for shade - also soft wood so if you have many windstorms you will be cleaning up branches in the field.

We love/loved our ash trees but you should be aware of the disease now being spread by Emerald ash borer. We lost a spectacular Purple Autumn ash in the front yard, and the green ash out back are being weakened. VA and KY are in the affected range, I think.

Any trees planted within the pasture will be nibbled on by the horses, you may want to put little fences around them to keep the horses back just a bit while allowing them access to shade.

Aug. 12, 2011, 07:32 PM
Silver maples are not recommended for horse pastures...the can have the same problems as red maples.

I'm in Kentucky, we have sugar maples, sweet gum (on the road), cleveland pears along the driveway and are planting this fall tulip poplars (not really poplars), bald cypress and more sweet gums. Then we're going on an evergreen binge for windbreaks. Sycamores are popular around here, but I'm not fond of them.