The Perfect Shade Tree
There’s an old saying that the best time to plant a tree was yesterday – but with the recent high temps and watering restrictions in our area, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Today is also a great day to plant a tree!
Trees require far less water than grass and a tree can lower the temperature under and around it by up to 10 degrees. Whether it’s for a tire swing, hammock, or simply to create a cool spot on the patio, here are a few helpful hints about how to pick out the perfect shade tree.
Space is the most important factor when choosing a tree. Shade trees come in several shapes and sizes. If space is not an issue in your yard, then an Autumn Blaze or Sienna Glen maple are good options. These trees can grow to be 40 to 50 feet tall and wide, with a brilliant orange red color in the fall.
For a narrower spot, a Brandywine maple may be a good option. A Brandywine maple will grow to around 30 feet tall, but only 15 to 20 feet wide and it will also have great fall color. A Dakota Pinnacle birch will stay even smaller at around 8 to 10 feet wide. These are just a few examples of the variety of sizes of shade trees.
Another trait to consider when selecting a shade tree for your yard is its speed of growth. A general rule of thumb is that the faster the growth, the weaker the wood. For instance, a slow growing oak is going to have much stronger branches than a fast-growing willow or birch tree.
If you’re looking for a tree that will be around for your great grandkids then an oak or hackberry tree would be the best options for you. On the other hand, if you want shade fast then a willow or quaking aspen might work.
No matter the size or growing speed of the tree that you choose, I encourage you to plant many different varieties so that if an insect or disease does invade our area you might only have a couple of trees impacted and not all of them. Happy planting and always visit your local nursery for suggestions and questions!