It’s that time of year again and the days are warming up! Although we’ve had a fair amount of rain in the past couple of weeks, there are easier ways to cool off. Try planting shade trees for a permanent solution to those hot summer days. Shade trees not only provide a retreat from the heat, they offer homeowners privacy and increase property value by up to 15%. Most want to go straight for the traditional Maple or Oak, but when choosing a tree there are a few factors to consider.
photo by Kat on flickr.
It’s no secret that larger trees with big bountiful leaves provide the most shade, but it comes at a cost. A temporary escape from the heat for us turns out to be a permanent life in the shadows for others. Plants and grass will have a hard time growing in an area void of sunlight. Consider mulching below the tree or choosing one with smaller leaves. These trees still provide shade while allowing filtered sunlight to the vegetation below. Another benefit of the smaller lighter leaves is their tendency to blow away in the fall. We’ve highlighted two of our favorites below.
Thornless Honey Locust
The thornless honey locust is a fast growing tree most known for its small rounded leaflets. The leaves are a beautiful bright green during spring and summer and transform into a vibrant yellow in the fall. No need for a rake, those yellow leaves will fall off and shrivel up to almost nothing; carried away by the slightest breeze. The thornless honey locust grows 40 to 60 feet tall and wide with branches starting at 5 to 15 feet above the ground. When fully mature, the tree takes on a rounded or oval shape and tends to flatten out on top.
The river birch is another relatively fast growing shade tree identified by its unique curling bark. When young the bark is a silvery white-gray and will slowly change to pink, reddish-brown or black over time. The leaves are a jagged green teardrop that turn yellow in the fall. In the winter and spring the river birch will produce flowers, and in the summer it produces cones. A mature river birch will typically be anywhere between 40 and 70 feet tall, although some grow up to 90 feet.
Let’s not be selfish! These trees don’t have to exclusively provide shade to us, but they can provide for our homes as well. Some are reluctant to place trees close to their house, but with risk comes reward. Strategically placing trees around a home is a natural way to cool down our living spaces and saves on utilities; those with shaded homes cut down on air-conditioning costs by 50%. Use trees around the home to create a layer of privacy or to mask any unappealing views from sight. So what are you waiting for? Let your shade trees start spreading their roots today.