Homeowners envision summer 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 summer 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. Irrigate these trees and your summer planting success is guaranteed. Add a July monsoon and any of trees will take off for with new growth.
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. This tree 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 feet tall by 25 feet 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 and 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.
Dura Heat Birch ~ This beautiful tree is best suited to planting in groves of three to five much like aspen. It has the same white bark as aspen with superior survivability and performance and less disease and insect damage. It will make an excellent narrow front yard tree for limited spaces and is a natural around water gardens to dry streams. The paper white bark forms earlier than quaking aspen. A nontoxic tree, it’s a safe choice near horse corrals and livestock pens. It has a densely pyramidal form with glossy green leaves that turn a striking autumn yellow in fall.
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 three-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.
Until next issue, I’ll see you at the garden center! QCBN
Ken Lain, the mountain gardener, can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his web site at www.wattersgardencenter.comorwww.Facebook page facebook.com/watters1815.