best shade tree in sandy soils

Asked December 26, 2016, 3:15 PM EST

Sir or Ma'am, i have three inches of black dirt and below is very sandy soils. I have underground irrigation that I run every day. I am looking to bring in or plant some mature (6-8 Ft) shade trees that grow relatively quick. What would you recommend? I would like to bring in 3-6 total trees and I am not opposed to needle trees. Thanks for your help on this one. I appreciate it Matt

Becker County Minnesota

1 Response

Thank you for the question. Choosing a shade tree requires you to think about several issues. First, do you want shade year round or only in summer? Deciduous trees leaf out in spring, are in full leaf in summer, may provide fall color before dropping all leaves through winter. Trees with interesting branch patterns or bark can provide winter interest. Evergreen trees (needles or leaves which age over more than one year) provide privacy, total shade year round, and interesting silhouettes.

Here is an excellent resource providing recommended trees (both deciduous and conifers) for north-northwest-central MN depending on where you are in the County. The notes section gives important additional information regarding each tree. If you see trees that interest you and look like they will work on your site, you can Google that tree to see how quickly it grows (if that information is not provided in the Notes):,
Some fast growing trees common to your area are: maple, elm, and ginkgo but there are many more and you will need to do your homework to see what appeals to you and matches your growing conditions. This link discusses evergreens: For sandy soil, consider scotch and mugo pines, and junipers.
Be sure to pick a tree that at maturity fits the space allotted for it and remember to think about any overhead power lines.

Read this link to learn how to best care for newly planted trees: Large transplants like you are planning for will take longer to establish than smaller trees so be sure that you have a plan for frequent watering for a number of years.

Good luck researching trees and best wishes,

Thank you for contacting Extension.