As summer comes ‘round again, homeowners envision trees lining their drives, enjoying cool breezes under mature shade trees, and those same trees blocking harsh winds. In the blinding heat of summer, trees make life out-of-doors pleasant and cool.
A nice shade tree also has benefits as the seasons change. The autumn colors can be magnificent and, in winter, bare branches allow the sun to warm a home. Additionally, landscape trees more than pay for themselves; even one nice tree increases the value of a property.
Here is a list of trees that are proven winners. They block wind with ease, live long, have low-care requirements, suffer no bug and disease problems, and have generous canopies for cooling shade.
Timeless Beauty Desert Willow ~ This willow enjoys twice the bloom time than its native relative, and it does so without bean pods dangling from its limbs. Clusters of large tubular burgundy and lavender flowers that appear at the ends of its branches are attractive to hummingbirds. Its fragrance is welcome in borders, containers, and fire wise landscapes. The ideal tree for water-challenged yards, it works well at hiding hot tubs and chain link fences. Grows up to 20 feet tall.
Chocolate Mimosa ~ A bean-less mimosa, this beauty shows off in summer with scented clusters of pink, powder puff blooms that attract butterflies. A fast growing tree with an umbrella-shaped canopy, it erupts in spring with beautiful bronze-green foliage resembling fern fronds. The leaves then turn to a rich chocolate burgundy color and remain so throughout summer and autumn. Grows 20 feet tall with a cooling 15-foot spread.
Pink Dawn Chitalpa ~ A striking specimen with bright green foliage, it bears large clusters of trumpet-shaped, purple-throated flowers. As a show-off accent tree, it easily fits within beds and borders, and is also useful as a visual screen along property lines. It can block unwanted views without deprivation of light or air circulation. It’s an appropriate choice for augmenting xeriscapes. Fast growing to 25 feet high.
Purple Robe Locust ~ In spring this stunner infuses the yard with dangling wisteria-like clusters of fragrant flowers. Its young metallic bronze-red leaves mature to beautiful blue-green foliage that provides abundant cooling shade all summer. This variety likes cold winters and harsh dry summers. At 35′ tall by 25′ wide, it’s ideally shaped for shading a patio.
Dynasty Elm ~ Related to the Prescott courthouse elms, it bears the classic upright, arching habit and dense green foliage perfect as a street tree or backyard specimen. Autumn brings on its unique shade of orange. This tree stands 40 feet tall, is impervious to our arid winds, bright sun, and poor soil yet is highly resistant to both Dutch elm disease and elm leaf beetle.
Sunburst Locust ~ With an open canopy that glows in spring with shiny gold leaves that mature to shady green in summer, this locust turns gold again in autumn. It is a superior color companion to contrasting purple leaf plums. The foliage is pleasantly soft without the thorns or beans common to other locusts. Prized for its low water consumption, it easily adapts to harsh windy landscapes and quickly grows to 30 feet tall.
Autumn Gold Ginkgo ~ If you are looking for an indestructible tree, this deep-rooted variety is impervious to drought, poor soils, and damage from wind and snow. The leaves are an interesting fan shape that flutters in the slightest breeze. Dark green summer foliage changes to brilliant saturated yellows through autumn; some fans suggest that its colors surpass those of the aspen. This prehistoric tree has been around since the dinosaur era and has been known to live 1000 years. Grows up to 30 feet tall.
Quaking Aspen ~ This tree’s dancing leaves, that glow in shades of gold in autumn, have been sources of inspiration to many writers and poets. It is a fast grower shooting up several feet of new growth each year until it reaches its maximum height of 50 feet. It adapts well in landscapes above 4000′. The pillar shape and its paper white bark make it attractive in rows along a driveway or in pairs to highlight vistas from a deck.
Tips for Planting Summer Trees – A tree planted in summer requires a good start and that means administering water wisely. First, keep water usage to a minimum by sprinkling ‘Aqua Boost Crystals’ at the base of each planting hole. Then top dress the root ball with a 3-inch layer of shredded cedar bark. The crystals encourage deep roots, while the bark slows water evaporation. These two simple steps should cut summer water usage by half, while supplying a newly planted tree with the water it needs.