No matter what part of the country you live in, creating shade in the landscape is an important way to cut down on energy costs in your home and enjoy the outdoors. If you live in a very hot climate then growing some shade is mandatory! Choosing the right kind of tree for your climate and location is key to success. In urban spaces, very large shade trees can be difficult to accommodate. Smaller shade trees are becoming more popular in the city. With water becoming a bigger issue for most homeowners, finding drought tolerant shade trees may also be a priority.
There are a few key characteristics to look for when choosing a drought tolerant tree. You want plants that have the kinds of leaves that will use water more efficiently. The shape of the leaf can impact how much water it loses through transpiration; smaller leaves will release less water. Generally, plants that have leaves with a waxy coating will be more drought tolerant. Plants that have an extensive root system will also be better suited to toughing out drought conditions.
If you’re looking for a small drought tolerant tree that will provide dense shade, be sure to check out the African sumac, Rhus lancea. This tough, deer resistant tree is perfect for the smaller urban landscape. Trees grow to about 35-feet tall and offer beautiful red bark. Female trees will produce small berry-like fruit in the fall. Excellent for creating privacy screens as well.
Another beautiful easy-to-grow tree that’s great for creating shade in smaller spaces is Mimosa, Albizia julibrissin. This small tree is also often called silk tree for its puffs of pink flowers that resemble silken threads. Plants quickly grow into a vase-like shape that spreads much like an umbrella at the upper canopy. Mimosa trees can be a beautiful accent or feature plant for sunny to dappled sun landscapes. You’ll find that plants bloom best in full sun locations.