We all know it can get pretty ho in the summert. No one wants to be stuck inside next to the air conditioner on a beautiful day, but sitting out in the direct sun isn’t always a safe alternative.
Planting shade trees in the yard will give residents places to relax outdoors without risking sunburns and heatstroke. Some tree species are a better fit for providing shade than others, so before choosing what to plant, homeowners should read on to find out about the three most popular varieties.
1. Kentucky Coffeetree
The Kentucky Coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus) is one of the most adaptable species around. Most tree preservation services love this species because it can be planted on almost any site. They’re also nitrogen fixers, which means they can actually improve poor soil conditions to make way for other plants. While the Kentucky Coffeetree is most commonly found in wide, open spaces, it’s also a perfect tree for more moderately sized front and back yards.
Kentucky Coffeetrees can be either male or female, which means it takes two of them to produce seeds. The female trees produce pleasantly fragrant greenish-white flowers throughout the late spring and early summer, and fertile varieties maintain their seedpods throughout all four seasons. All Kentucky Coffee Trees have bold branching patterns and flaky bark, which add some extra visual impact to the landscape.
2. Ginkgo Tree
The Ginkgo tree (Ginkgo biloba) is also referred to as the maidenhair tree because of its leaves’ visual similarity to maidenhair ferns. These unique specimens have very few close relatives in the plant world, so they’re often found in botanical gardens with other rare or interesting species. In many cultures, the fruit from the Ginkgo tree is still used in traditional herbal medicine, but Westerners tend to think of it as a landscape ornamental.
Ginkgo trees may be unique, but they tend to be easy to grow. Once they’ve gotten established, the root systems are excellent at adapting to fit small spaces and burrowing deep into the soil to keep the trees rooted and ensure access to vital nutrients. Ginkgo trees are resistant to disease, insects, and pests, and require far less structural pruning than faster-growing species.
3. Bur Oak
The bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) is well-known for its strength and longevity. At maturity, it can produce an impressive 75-foot canopy that is perfect for shading urban driveways, patios, sidewalks, and lawns. The bur oak also produces large crops of acorns, which can attract beneficial wildlife to the yard without causing a big mess as most fruit trees do.
It’s important to consult a tree care professional before planting a bur oak. Because these trees grow to such a large size, they have extensive root systems. Homeowners need to confirm that there are no underground structures or utility lines that could interfere with the tree’s growth or be disrupted by large roots.
The Bottom Line
The advantages of adding a shade tree to the landscape extend beyond just providing a welcome outdoor respite from the sun. All of the trees described above also provide vital habitat and food for wildlife and can even boost the growth of other landscape plants. Homeowners who want to plant shade trees should always work with a professional arborist to ensure that their new specimens get the best possible start in life.