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Gardening 101: Shade trees

Gardening 101: Shade trees
Gardening 101: Shade trees 02:05

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - During the summer heat wave, us Meteorologists would often give advice on what to avoid over-heating. This is actually a serious issue with us, as heat waves are leading cause of weather-related fatalities.

"People who will not sustain trees will soon live in a world that will not sustain people." - Bryce Nelson

In that advice is kind of an obvious one, SEEK SHADE OFTEN. While there is no such thing as "the temperature in the shade" (you are always measuring the air temperature regardless of where that parcel of air is), being in the shade SUBTRACTS the energy from direct sunlight that can also heat your body. 

So, the grass in your yard might measure 78 degrees in the shade, but in direct sun, the same grass could measure 95 degrees. Not because the air temperature is warmer, but you are measuring how much the SUN warmed it up.

Perhaps this would also be a good place to remind you that the official temperature both in currents and in forecast are temperatures in the shade and six feet off grass (just to loop back around to show the phrase origin).

Anyway, shade is a good place to be on a hot summer day. Just drive by any pasture and you'll see that even cows know this. You can grow you own shade around your house to keep the sun's warming rays off your structure and driveway as well as your family and friends. Shade trees can also add value to your property as they can be both aesthetically pleasing and reduce your energy bills.

Perhaps this would all be a good place to remind you of an absolute truth about creating shade by growing trees. The best time to plant a tree was ten years ago.

Shade trees are almost always an example of a massive tree. They can take decades to grow to anything approaching full size. The better choices here in North Texas for growing extensive shade is the tried-and-true Oak tree. 

There are about 20 very common Oak tree varieties (there are actually about 450 known species in the Fagacea family). Choosing the right one for your yard is a decision you and several following generations will have to live with. The attached Garden101 story highlights three different oaks of varying size. Each is a rock-solid choice for this area. 

I also included one of my favorite ornamental trees (the desert willow) because it can be used to provide partial shade for elaborate landscaping plans that can live below it (it doesn't throw TOO much shade).

Please refer to what I consider one of the most valuable on-line tools to determine the best tree for that particular place in your yard, the Texas A&M Forest Service Texas Tree Planting Guide. Really, I can't recommend this enough for helping you navigate the process. Throw a little shade. Or a lot.

"Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago" - Warren Buffet

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