When our mild Portland temperatures turn hot in late summer, a well-placed shade tree can significantly reduce the temperature of shaded homes and outdoor gathering areas. Shade trees cool by deflecting heat instead of absorbing it and by releasing water vapor from the undersides of their leaves.
If you would like enjoy the benefits of more shade in your yard, summer is the time to consider where you would like to have more shade. Because of the seasonal changes in the trajectory of the sun across the sky, the trees in your yard will cast shade in a different place from one season to the next. Notice the angle of the sun at the hottest hours of the day. During the summer, decide which shade tree to plant and where to plant your shade tree, but wait until the fall or late winter to plant the tree to ensure that it thrives.
Selection Of Your Shade Tree
Follow these general rules for proper shade tree selection to maximize your summer heat relief.
- Deciduous trees offer the dual benefit of providing shade in the summer when leafed out and allowing the sunlight through to warm your home in winter after they have shed their leaves.
- Broad and oval-shaped trees offer more shade than narrow trees. The broad canopy of the saucer magnolia above, left, shades a large portion of the yard.
- Is your goal to shade your entire house or a small outdoor gathering area? Keep the height requirements of your home or outdoor gathering area in mind as you select the right shade tree. Taller homes and decks will require a taller tree for maximum shade.
- Trees planted for their shade-providing benefit for a large portion of the day will need to be able to thrive in full sun conditions. The vine maple above, right, could shade a small area for only a small portion of the day due to its small size and preference for partial sun.
- Because of the shade from neighboring trees, you may only need to plant a shade tree wide and tall enough to fill a specific gap in the shade.
Where To Plant Your Shade Tree
In addition to considering where you would like the shade to be cast and the type of shade tree you would like, follow these guidelines for where to plant your shade tree.
- Planting the shade tree on the south or west side of your home will ensure your home is shaded during the hottest part of the day. The big leaf maple above is planted on the southwest corner of this Portland yard. Because of its tall height and location, it shades most of the home in the hot afternoon hours.
- Plant the tree far enough away from the home to allow it to reach its full spread.
- If planting near a walkway, deck, or play structure, consider varieties that do not drop a lot of debris.
Shade trees not only decrease temperatures under their canopy by several degrees, but they decrease indoor temperatures when the house is shaded in the summer. If weather trends of higher temperatures continue, proper selection and placement of a shade tree can significantly affect your summer comfort indoors and out. The ISA Certified Arborists at For The Love Of Trees would be happy to provide shade tree suggestions for your Portland-area yard.