In the bustling urban landscape of Greater Chicago, where concrete jungles dominate the skyline, finding respite from the scorching summer sun can be a challenge.

Commercial properties that beckon visitors with shade and serenity can have an edge over the competition.

With strategic planting and landscape design, commercial properties can transform their outdoor spaces into cool and inviting retreats. From lush greenery to carefully placed shade structures, these elements not only enhance the aesthetic appeal but also add shade to landscapes, making outdoor areas more enjoyable for employees, customers, and visitors alike.

Let’s talk about landscape design for shade and how this can be incorporated into commercial landscape design in Greater Chicago.

Best Shade Trees for Greater Chicago Commercial Properties

When you’re in a city or urban environment where concrete and asphalt can dominate the landscape, large shade trees stand as towering sentinels offering a natural refuge from the relentless summer sun. That’s why they are a first go-to when planting for shade.

Beyond their aesthetic allure, these arboreal giants provide invaluable shade coverage, casting cooling shadows that extend far beyond their leafy canopy.

By strategically planting the right species of Chicago shade trees, commercial properties can create microclimates of comfort, shielding visitors and passersby from the sweltering heat while enriching the urban environment with greenery and biodiversity.

Whether lining walkways, framing outdoor seating areas, or shading parking lots, these best shade trees for commercial facilities in this area can fill the bill.


The Serviceberry tree (Amelanchier), known for its graceful form and delicate beauty, offers a multifaceted contribution to shaded landscapes in Greater Chicago.

With its moderate size and spreading canopy, the serviceberry provides dappled shade that is both inviting and gentle, creating a cool oasis beneath its branches.

Serviceberry (Amalanchier) CC

Beyond its shade-providing qualities, this versatile tree boasts an array of appealing features, including stunning spring blossoms that give way to berries beloved by wildlife.

With a preference for well-drained soil and partial sun, the serviceberry thrives in a variety of urban settings, making it an ideal choice for commercial properties seeking to enhance their outdoor environments and add shade to landscapes.

Its resilience to urban conditions, coupled with its ornamental charm and ecological value, positions the serviceberry as a cornerstone of sustainable and inviting landscapes throughout the region.

Eastern Redbud

The Eastern Redbud tree (Cercis canadensis), renowned for its striking beauty and distinctive charm, serves as a captivating addition to shaded landscapes. With its spreading canopy and heart-shaped leaves, the redbud provides a unique and elegant form of shade, casting a dappled pattern of light that infuses outdoor spaces with warmth and character.

Beyond its ability to add shade to landscapes, this hardy native species boasts a profusion of vibrant pink or purple flowers in early spring, signaling the arrival of the new season with a breathtaking display of color.

Cercis canadensis (Eastern Redbud) CC

Thriving in a variety of soil types and tolerant of urban conditions, the eastern redbud is well-suited to commercial properties seeking to enhance their outdoor environments with beauty and functionality.

Whether planted as a specimen tree or incorporated into mixed plantings, the redbud stands as a testament to nature's artistry, enriching the urban landscape with its grace and allure, while providing valuable shade for generations to come.


The Crabapple tree (Malus), revered for its ornamental appeal and seasonal splendor, emerges as a captivating Greater Chicago shade tree.

With its dense, spreading canopy adorned with delicate blossoms in spring and colorful fruit in fall, the crabapple offers a dynamic display of beauty throughout the year.

Crabapple (Malus) Purple Prince

As it matures up to no more than 20 feet high, this resilient tree casts a cooling shade, providing respite from the summer sun while infusing commercial facilities with charm and tranquility.

Thriving in a variety of soil types and urban settings, the crabapple's adaptability makes it a favored choice for commercial properties seeking to enhance their outdoor environments with natural shade and visual interest – whether planted as a focal point or integrated into mixed plantings.

Amur Maackia

The Amur Maackia tree, an often-overlooked gem, offers a unique blend of elegance and utility to commercial landscapes in Greater Chicago.

With its vase-shaped form and bright green foliage, the Amur Maackia commands attention at 20- to 30-feet tall while providing a cooling canopy that shelters outdoor spaces from the harsh sun.

Amur Maackia (Maackia amurensis) CC

This underutilized native species boasts a remarkable resilience to urban conditions, thriving in various soil types and tolerating pollution and drought.

In spring, clusters of fragrant white flowers adorn its branches, attracting pollinators. As summer transitions to fall, the tree's foliage takes on a golden hue, adding warmth and depth to the autumn landscape.

With its blend of appeal, adaptability, and shade-providing prowess, the Amur Maackia is a valuable asset for commercial properties seeking to enhance their outdoor environments.


The Magnolia tree, renowned for its beauty and presence, offers a fine source of shade in commercial landscapes of Greater Chicago.

With its large, glossy leaves and fragrant, showy blooms, the magnolia commands attention while providing a generous canopy that shelters outdoor spaces from the intensity of the sun.

Magnolia liliiflora (CC)

Whether in the form of the iconic Southern magnolia or the delicate blooms of the saucer magnolia, these trees infuse their surroundings with a sense of grace and tranquility.

Thriving in well-drained soil and partial to full sun, magnolias adapt well to urban environments, making them a favored choice for commercial properties seeking to enhance their outdoor areas with natural shade and aesthetic appeal.

As the seasons change, the magnolia's foliage offers evergreen coverage or a burst of vibrant color, ensuring year-round interest and beauty.

River Birch

The River Birch tree (Betula nigra), celebrated for its distinctive peeling bark and graceful form, serves as a dynamic way to add shade to landscapes in Greater Chicago. With its elegant canopy and delicate foliage, the river birch offers a cooling retreat from the sun's rays while infusing outdoor spaces with rustic charm.

Betula nigra river birch CC

This resilient native species thrives in moist soils and partial sun, making it well-suited to the diverse conditions found in urban environments. As it matures, the river birch develops a unique exfoliating bark that adds visual interest year-round, complementing its lush green foliage and providing a textured backdrop to any landscape.

With its adaptability, aesthetic appeal, and shade-providing capabilities, the river birch emerges as a valued asset for commercial properties seeking to enhance their outdoor environments with natural beauty and functionality.

Other Ways to Add Shade to Landscapes

While trees form the backbones of shade provision, the artful integration of built structures can further enhance the allure and functionality of outdoor commercial spaces.

Pergolas adorned with climbing vines, covered patios, and shaded pavilions nestled amidst verdant gardens offer elegant alternatives to nature's canopy, extending shade and comfort with architectural flair.

pergola with ceiling fan and recessed lighting

By marrying form with function, these structures provide versatile spaces for relaxation, recreation, and socialization, elevating the outdoor experience for patrons, employees, and visitors alike.

Your landscape design for shade can also incorporate these hardscape solutions with large shade trees to bring the best of shade to your space.

Planting For Shade in Greater Chicago? Call KD Landscape

You can absolutely attract more customers to your Greater Chicago commercial property with shade trees and hardscape solutions.

It might be hard to plan for if you aren’t planning correctly and picking the right species.

Planting for shade can happen with the right landscape design strategy and proper planting and species choices. Let KD Landscape help. Our commercial landscaping experts have experience dealing with local growing conditions and can help you pick just the right trees to suit your specific needs.

Want to learn more about how KD Landscape can help you choose the best shade trees for your Greater Chicago commercial property? Get started today with a consultation. We’ll review your options together so you can feel confident and make a great choice. 

Guide to Hiring the Right Commercial Landscaping Company

Image Sources | Serviceberry, Redbud, Crabapple, Amur Maackia, Magnolia, River Birch