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GardenSMART :: These 10 Shade Trees Are Nature's Sunscreen for Your Landscape

These 10 Shade Trees Are Nature's Sunscreen for Your Landscape

By Davey Tree Expert Company
Photograph courtesy of Davey Tree Expert Company

Grass tells a story about average rainfall over the last few weeks. Trees show us what has been going on beneath the surface over the last few years.

Selecting species most suitable for the climate you live in will help provide the best chance that new trees are able to tolerate diseases, pests, and stay healthy. Plus, shade trees protect the skin from sun exposure. And with skin cancer on the rise, it's imperative people know how to keep trees healthy, so they can keep us healthy, too.

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Ted Sonnier, arborist at Houston's Davey Tree, recommends these top 10 large-canopied trees, but you should talk to your local certified arborist for the best trees for your region. These trees are hardy, tolerant of urban and suburban conditions, low-maintenance and able to endure drought conditions.

  • Shumard oak - The Shumard oak offers a beautiful fall show, with leaves turning from fire red to red-orange. It prefers full sun and will grow to a height of 40-60 feet at maturity. (Zones 5-9) 
  • Nuttall oak - This oak, like most, is tough yet stately. Best of all, this oak isn't as common as other varieties, making it an unusual tree to plant. This tree can grow up to 100 feet tall at maturity. (Zones 5-9)
  • Overcup oak - The overcup oak grows in a uniform, oval shape, minimizing the need for pruning. It grows to a height of 45-70 feet at maturity. (Zones 5-9)
  • Sawtooth oak - The sawtooth oak is a fast-growing tree with jagged tooth-like leaves, true to its name. It grows to a height of 40-60 feet at maturity. (Zones 5-9) 
  • Swamp chestnut oak - Despite the name, a swamp chestnut oak does not like wet roots. It prefers well-drained soil and is even able to grow in dry areas. It grows to a height of 60-100 feet at maturity. (Zones 5-9) 
  • Monterrey oak - This native oak tree, which is also called a netleaf oak, is beautiful. Plus, it's resistant to oak wilt and has very few problems. As a medium-sized oak, it grows to a height of 40-60 feet at maturity. (Zones 6-9)
  • Live oak - The live oak is a Southern classic and is often seen draped in Spanish moss. It can live to be hundreds of years old. It grows to a height of 40-80 feet at maturity. (Zones 7-10)
  • Bur oak - The bur oak makes a great urban tree as it tolerates pollution and heat stress well. It grows to a height of 70-80 feet at maturity. (Zones 3-8)
  • Montezuma cypress - This pyramid-shaped conifer is both sleek and tough. It has the unique ability to thrive in dry climates. This tree grows to a height of 50-70 feet at maturity. Be warned, it may lose its needles in the winter. (Zones 4-10) 
  • White oak - This large shade tree can grow up to 100 feet tall. It has a beautiful shape with a broad, rounded crown, dense foliage and supports a wide range of pollinators. (Zones 4-9) 

There are other excellent native and non-native ornamental trees that can also withstand drought conditions. Your local arborist can help you select the right tree for the right spot.

Once the right tree is selected, Sonnier suggests these five tips for ensuring trees are well watered:

  • The best time to water is in the morning.
  • Water slowly and deeply. Use a sprinkler, drip hose or garden hose on a gentle trickle, near the base of the tree, allowing water to soak 8-12 inches deep.
  • Only water the area under the tree's branches, known as the drip zone. Avoid directly irrigating the trunk. 
  • To make sure you're not overwatering, place an empty soup can near the tree inside the sprinkler pattern and run the sprinkler very slowly over several hours until 2-3 inches has collected in the can.
  • Spread mulch in a wide circle, no more than 3 inches deep, around the tree to conserve water. Mulch should be pulled back from the trunk of the tree like a donut, not like a volcano. Recommended mulches include hardwood wood chips and shredded compost.

For more information or to schedule a free consultation, contact the tree experts at your local Davey office.  

With nearly 9,500 employees throughout North America, The Davey Tree Expert Company provides solutions for residential, utility, commercial and government clients. Rooted in research, the company's vision is to achieve balance among people, progress and the environment. Tree experts since 1880, Davey provides diversified tree services, grounds maintenance, and environmental services. Celebrating 40 years of employee ownership, Davey is one of the largest employee-owned companies in the U.S. and is headquartered in Kent, Ohio. Want to join us? Discover your Davey career, and apply today.


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