Florida Landscape Doctor

Shade Trees – Which One Is Right For You?

Plant it on the northside, southside, westside, or should we plant it on the east side of the house? Where do we need the shade the most? What time of the day is the hottest on that side of the house? What side do we want to be sunny in the winter time and what side do we want to be shady in the summer months? Which tree will be the worst with the leaf drop in the winter? If we have a hurricane where would we not want the tree to be with the high winds? Which tree grows the fastest? Which tree has the softer branches which could break easier? Which tree will live the longest? Which tree will cause us problems with our septic system? With all these questions, lets look and some common shade trees in Florida. Maybe from this you can decide which tree to put in or even which tree to remove from your property. With winter time coming on you will see a lot of trees turning colors. At my lake home in North, Florida, I am excited about the Cypress trees on the lake edge turning colors. Looking across the lake you can see the Maple trees changing colors and life on the lake begins to change. Fall is in the air. People get excited for a break in the weather and you can smell the fires burning in the homes as the cooler air creeps in. Let’s first look at my favorite tree the Live Oak.

The Live Oak is the southern symbol of Strength. The saying goes “Storms make oaks take a deeper root.”, and they do. Trials make us stronger as people, so remember the oak tree in your trials. The Oak tree can reach a height of 65’ to 85’. The live oak can reach a diameter of twelve feet of trunk. They are a great shade tree whose branches do not break easily. The live Oak is a slow growing tree.

The Southern Magnolia can reach a height of 60 to 90 feet in height. Its trunk will be approximately 2 to 3 feet in diameter. It will typically grow straight and erect. The Magnolia will produce beautiful white flowers. It will have a messier leaf drop more so that the live oak. Branching will be strong and it is a slow growing tree.

The Drake Chinese Elm possesses many traits which make it ideal for a shade tree. It is a very fast growing tree and with the fast growth its branches are easily broken. The branching forms a graceful, spreading, rounded canopy of long weeping branches. It can grow 40 to 50 feet tall. Excellent shade tree but soft branching.

The Bald Cypress tree dominates the wetlands, lakes, and swamps but can grow in your backyard. They are a very slow growing tree with branching firm and strong. It is a beautiful shade tree in the summer which will let light in during the winter. It can reach a height of 60 to 80 feet with changing colors in the fall.

The Red Maple is also known as the swamp maple. It is a very fast growing tree hence it will have softer branches that break easily. It is a very good shade tree dropping its leaves in the fall. It will reach 60 to 70 feet in height. It would be a good shade tree for the summer however letting the sun light in during the winter months. As with all moisture seeking trees do not plant it near the septic system. Another beautiful color of leaves turning red in the fall. I hope this has given you a few choices of shade trees. You make the decision which one is right for you.

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