Trees for Summertime Livin’

Friday, August 4th, 2017 by Jenny Watts
    • Roses have more flowers all summer long than any other shrub. Plant them in a sunny location and feed monthly for continuous blooms.
    • Cut back leggy annuals by half and feed to encourage a longer bloom season.
    • Impatiens and begonias will give you instant color in shady areas and continue blooming right through the fall.
    • Trim grapevines to allow more sun to reach the fruit and sweeten the grapes, if they are being shaded heavily by the foliage.
    • Divide Oriental poppies and bearded iris now. Add some bonemeal in the bottom of the hole when you replant them.

Trees for Summertime Livin’

Trees are never appreciated more than in the summer when their welcome shade provides a cool escape from the brutal sun. Trees provide many benefits including beauty, wildlife habitat and increased property values. They can also save you money by reducing your cooling bill in the summer and your heating bill in the winter.

Shade trees act as evaporative coolers in the summer time. A column of warm air rises up through the tree causing a slight breeze at ground level. This gentle air movement makes the shade under trees much more pleasant than the shade from buildings.

In the summer, heat enters the house through the walls and the roof, but the most heat enters directly through the windows. Heat builds up during the day and homes become the most uncomfortable in the late afternoon. Walls shaded by trees are generally 15 degrees cooler than unshaded walls on a hot summer day.

In our climate, winter heating is a much greater expense than summer cooling. Winter sunlight through south-facing windows can be an important factor in heating. Branches and twigs of bare trees block 20 to 50 percent of the sunlight passing through them.

For energy conservation, and creature comfort, trees should be planted where they will give the most shade to the house in the summer and the least shade in the winter. Trees planted to the west or southwest of the house are more effective than those planted on the south side.

Planting trees that grow to 25 feet or more toward the west side of the house will shade western windows during June, July and August. This will reduce air conditioning needs and increase comfort in non-air conditioned homes. Since the sun is at a lower angle in the wintertime, these trees won’t block warm, midday sun coming from the south.

Maple trees are some of our best shade trees. They provide shade and beauty with a minimum of messiness. ‘October Glory’ red maple grows to a height of 40–50′, providing dense shade. In late fall, the dark green leaves burst into shades of orange and red.

Catalpa is a large tree with showy white flowers that attract hummingbirds, followed by long bean-like seed pods. The large, heart-shaped leaves provide considerable shade from the canopy that grows to 40 ft. tall and 20 ft. wide.

If you have a moist location, nothing is more beautiful than a graceful weeping willow. It is a very fast-growing tree and can block an unpleasant view in just a few years. The soft green, pendulous branches are very beautiful.

Chinese pistache is one of our toughest trees. Though irregular in form when young, they grow into magnificent, round-headed trees that have outstanding fall color. It makes a beautiful shade tree at 30 feet tall and wide.

Sycamores are large, elegant trees that are tolerant of heat, drought and poor soil. With large, maple-shaped leaves and attractive peeling bark, they are a mainstay of the urban landscape. The variety ‘Bloodgood’ is disease resistant and will provide lots of summer shade.
Consider your shade tree needs now to enhance your outdoor living areas.

Trees for Shade and Beauty

Friday, June 12th, 2015 by Jenny Watts
    • There’s still time to plant summer vegetables: tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, cucumbers and corn will bear for you if you plant them now.
    • Fertilize hanging baskets every 10 to 14 days with a liquid fertilizer. Pinch off faded blossoms and they will keep blooming all summer for you.
    • Spray roses every two weeks with Neem oil to keep leaves free of black spot and mildew.
    • Attract birds to your garden with a concrete bird bath. They come in many attractive styles and make good gifts.
    • Pepper plants should be fertilized when the first blossoms open.

Trees for Shade and Beauty

When the summer heat comes on, we quickly appreciate the value of a shade tree. Shade trees can be different sizes depending on their location and whether you want to shade a small patio, or part of the house.

When choosing a tree, it is always best to first determine which trees are best adapted to the planting site. Then you can consider tree function, size and shape, flowers, leaf color, or other outstanding features. Trees provide us with many benefits from shade and beauty, to erosion control, wildlife habitat and stream bank stabilization.

For a fast-growing shade tree, look for a Raywood ash or a Fruitless mulberry. The Raywood ash grows more upright when young, eventually becoming a dense, round-headed tree. Its burgundy fall color is very attractive. Fruitless mulberries quickly make an umbrella of shade. The large leaves turn bright yellow in the fall and are easy to clean up, but the catkins can be messy in the spring.

Maples and sycamores make fine, large shade trees. October Glory maple is a beautiful, round-headed tree growing 40 feet tall. It has striking bright red to orange fall color. Summer Red™ red maple is a fast-growing shade tree, 35 ft. tall and 20 ft. wide, with orange-red-purple fall color. It forms a dense, broad tree providing welcome summer shade.

Our native Bigleaf maple, Acer macrophyllum, has huge maple leaves 6-12 inches across. It can grow up to 50 feet tall but is normally more like 30 feet. It likes to grow along streams but will also grow on drier sites. In the fall, it stands out in the forest with its bright yellow leaves.

London Plane trees, or sycamores, grow 50 feet tall and 40 feet wide and have naturally shedding bark that makes a very attractive trunk. Their large, maple like leaves turn yellow in the fall. Bloodgood is a disease-resistant variety.

Pink Dawn Chitalpa is a smaller, deciduous tree that is fast-growing to 25 feet tall and wide. It has long, narrow, bright green leaves that form a background for the large clusters of trumpet-shaped pale lavender flowers that bloom all summer. Once established, it needs only occasional watering.

For a smaller tree with showy flowers, you might choose the popular red-leaved Krauter Vesuvius flowering plum. It grows 15-20 feet tall and wide with light pink single flowers in spring and purple-red leaves all summer. The double pink flowered Prunus blireana has beautiful spring blossoms. Its purple foliage turns greenish in the summer.

Flowering crabapples make fine smaller shade trees with their showy spring flowers, broad canopy and colorful fruits. Prairiefire flowering crabapple has dark purplish-red flowers and colorful fruit and grows to about 20 feet tall. They make fruit that is enjoyed by the birds but can be messy around the patio or walkways, so be sure to plant them where the fruit-drop will not be a problem.

Weeping willows grow 30 to 50 feet tall, with equal spread. Their weeping branches will reach down to the ground, if left unpruned, making a magical and shady gathering place underneath. They need lots of water and room to grow, but an old weeping willow is a friend long remembered.

For a cool, shady place to relax on hot summer days, “trees are the answer!”

Our Valuable Trees

Friday, September 28th, 2012 by Jenny Watts
    • Replace tired petunias with bright pansies, snapdragons, calendulas and stock for garden color this fall and winter.
    • Dogwood, walnut, birch and maple trees can be pruned now because they won’t bleed sap at this time of year.
    • Plant cover crops in areas of the garden that have finished producing for the summer. Crimson clover and fava beans will grow over the winter and enrich the soil for next year.
    • It’s time to divide overgrown perennials that bloomed in the spring or early summer. It’s also a good time to choose and plant some new varieties.
    • Fall is for planting. Make the most of the nice fall weather and plant trees, shrubs, ground covers and bulbs now during the fall planting season.

Our Valuable Trees

Trees are living umbrellas that protect us from the elements, clean the air and water, and nurture a sense of well-being.

Trees provide air quality benefits in several ways. One of the most important ways is by releasing oxygen into the air as a byproduct of photosynthesis. Annual oxygen production varies depending on the type of tree, as well as its size, health and location.  

A healthy 30-foot-tall tree produces about 260 pounds of oxygen annually. A typical person consumes 386 pounds of oxygen per year. So two medium-sized, healthy trees can supply the oxygen required for a single person.

Trees also remove pollutants from the air. Sulfur dioxide is absorbed through the leaves, and transferred down through the tree into the roots and into the soil.

Human activities, primarily fossil-fuel consumption, are adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, resulting in gradual temperature increases.  The effects of this global warming are a serious concern. Planting more trees is a simple but effective way to help hold back global warming.

Trees are important storage sites for carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas. They store carbon dioxide in their trunks, branches, leaves and roots as they grow. In addition, trees near buildings can reduce the need for heating and air conditioning, thereby reducing emissions from electric power plants.

One study found that Sacramento’s urban forest of six million trees removes approximately 335 thousand tons of atmospheric carbon dioxide annually. City trees work tirelessly to improve human health and quality of life.

The benefits of trees are directly related to their size. Larger trees provide greater benefits than small ones. Select trees that will fit the space available, because healthy and vigorous trees are the most effective.

Fall is an excellent time to plant trees. While the soil is still warm, roots will grow out into the native soil. A tree planted in the fall will be better established and grow larger and faster next summer than the same tree planted next spring. 

By planting the right tree in the right place, and providing proper long-term care, you will help the environment and be rewarded with comfort and fresh air to breathe.