Friday, April 10, 2009

Shade Trees for the Desert Southwest

Shade Trees for the Desert Southwest. What are the best Shade trees for hot full sun.

Lately folks at our retail gardening store are looking for large shade type trees. And like most of us they want instant gratification. Yea, during the summer they want instant shade and they want it now. Of course money is a big factor in purchasing shade trees.
Did you know you can reduce the need for an air conditioner in a home or building by as much as 25 percent, that's a big savings on your electric bill! On the average it is about 10 degrees cooler underneath a good shade tree.

If your landscaping budget is tight I suggest purchasing a small to medium sized shade tree at your local nursery. Not only will it cost less but you will have the ability to deliver and plant if yourself, thus saving you even more money. If money is not a factor (you lucky dog) then the larger the better.

Below are descriptions and types of shade trees that will do well in the southwestern heat.

The weeping willow tree or Salix babylonica: This tree grows extremely fast can double sometimes triple in size about 2-3 years. They can grow to about 50-60ft. tall and about 30-40 ft wide. They have long pendular type limbs that hang low giving it that "weeping" look. The leaves are small and narrow but numerous which is ideal for shade. It is one of the first trees to leaf out during early spring and one of the last to lose it leaves in late fall. The wood is soft which makes susceptible to insects. This tree can adapt to almost any type of soil but does best in moist well watered soil.

The Ash Trees or Fraxinus species are great full sun trees.

There are many type of Ash trees. Arizona, Modesto, White, Fan Tex, and Raywood are some of the more popular. The Ash tree grows to about 50ft. tall and 30ft. wide and an excellent drought tolerant shade tree that turns a golden yellow in the fall. The Raywood turn a dark red color. Moderate grower about 1-2ft. per year. I recommend the male trees as the female will produce the fruit which is messy. The limbs are somewhat brittle when the tree gets older thus making it more of a maintenance problem. They do best in full sun.

Live Oak or Quercus virginiana: Is another great desert full sun tree. The Southern Live Oak - Can grow up to 70-80ft. This type of tree is slow growing but it is an evergeen in the southwest, massive shade tree once fully mature. Its horizontal branches form a broad rounded canopy. Can take full sun needs moderate watering once established. They like well drained soil and have numerous acorns that fall during the spring.

More Southwestern Desert Gardening Information at: Guzman's


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  2. Nice blog post. My personal favorite is the live oak. They're spectacular trees.