Growing Shade

Growing Shade

Jul 25, 2019

WOW It’s HOT!  We’ve all had the experience where everything around you appears to be melting in the oppressive 100+ degree summer heat.  Just when you feel ready to keel over your saved by an immense, dense canopy of a grand old shade trees and the cooling embrace.

Long gone are the days where the mighty oaks, maples, sycamores and other shade tree were the only respite from the summers blazing hot rays.  Today, where we rely on air conditioning and electric fans to keep us cool, we’ve almost forgotten how naturally powerful the cooling effect of shade trees can be and the contribution they make. These trees not only provide shade, but also habitat, oxygen, and have the ability to reduce green-house gasses harmful to our atmosphere. 

As our population surges, our suburbs, which once were a place of rolling green hills, beautiful trees, and landscaped gardens are being squeezed and condensed into more and more concrete, asphalt, brick mortar and stone. As land is becoming scarce, our trees and green spaces are being reduced to make room for urban sprawl creating heat islands. During peak energy use months, these population centers (heat islands)  increase energy demand, air pollution, heat-related illness, and water pollution. 

So how do we mitigate these effects? One solution is to plant trees and grow shade. Tree and vegetation cover is proven to be a cost-effective way to reduce surface and air-temperatures. Smart cities also incorporate green roofs, cool roofs, cool pavements and in general apply smart growth strategies. 

Growing Shade Why It Matters Infographic

Society holds a great deal of responsibility when it comes to solving the environmental challenges presented to us today. This Greek proverb really hits it home “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose  shade they know they shall never sit in.”

Very deep, and probably something more of us should live by. These tried and true fast-growing favorites will help you grow shade that you will live to enjoy. 

American Sycamore Tree

This fast-growing North American native tree grows up to 80 feet tall displaying a large canopy covered with light green leaves perfect for creating shade on a hot summer day. American Sycamore trees also tolerate wet soil and areas with high levels of air pollution. 

Willow Oak Tree

A true American classic, known to be long lived growing to amazing heights up to 60 feet tall. This tree is a fantastic source of shade, as well as food for natural wildlife. You will find these trees most commonly along roadsides, in parks, and in the yards of rural suburban homes.

Tulip Poplar Tree

One of the fastest-growing North American native trees, growing to more than 50 feet tall at maturity with a 35 to 50 foot spread. The Tulip Poplar tree displays white flowers April - June with another show in autumn when the leaves turn a brilliant yellow.

In closing, we need trees, but more importantly trees need us. According to research published in the Journal of Nature earth is home to more than three trillion trees. Each year an estimated 15 billion trees are cut down across the globe. While most of this loss is in the tropical sub regions of the world, the loss for agricultural and other commercial property gains is still vast in other regions.

Trees need us to realize the grim reality of a world without them. They need us to fight to preserve land trusts and protected lands. They need us to start replanting. This may be a global effort, but it is an effort that can start with one and spread to many.  We are committed to replanting the earth one tree at a time.